Here's a tender, soft-crumbled butter cake, a classic of the genre, made as individual upside-down cakes. The baby cake pans, each four inches across, are lined with a mixture of melted butter, brown sugar, and pecans and decorated with slices of Rhubarb before the bourbon-boosted butter cake batter is poured in. In fact, there's nothing sacred about Rhubarb; you can vary the fruit as you choose. Try using mangoes, apples or pears, apricots, plums, or bananas, and vary the liqueur or flavoring to match the fruit.
If the urge to bake these lovely cakes strikes and you haven't a set of baby cake pans at hand, make these in muffin tins or custard cups, or make the recipe as one large cake. The batter is perfect for an eleven- or twelve-inch cast iron skillet or a twelve-inch round cake pan, and turned out, the large cake is impressive.
These baby cakes, as well as the Hazelnut baby loaves, Vanilla pound cake, are members of the same large and universally appealing family, the butter cake clan.
Recipe adapted from "Baking With Julia"
You'll be needing the following ingredients..
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup creme fraiche, homemade or store bought, or sour cream
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup(lightly packed) brown sugar
1 tbsp bourbon
2 tbsps chopped pecans
6 to 7 stalks (12 ounces) fresh Rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick-slices
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Melted butter for greasing the pans
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving(optional)
Here we start..
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 35o deg F. Brush the insides of 8-mini or baby cake pans, each 4 inches across and 1 inch deep, with a light coating of melted butter, dust the flour and tap out the excess. Whisk or stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together just to blend;reserve. In a separate bowl, stir the vanilla into the creme fraiche and set aside until needed.
Melt the 1/2 stick butter in a heavy skillet. Add the brown sugar and bourbon and cook over medium heat, stirring with wooden spoon until the sugar melts. Stir in the pecans to coat with the caramel and turn of the heat. Divide the caramel evenly among the pans, working quickly to get it to the edges of the pan before it sets( cooked sugar cools rapidly). Arrange the rhubarb in circles over the sugar, and set aside while you make the batter.
Put the remaining stick of butter and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or use a hand-held mixer, and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, scrapping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. The butter and sugar must be beaten until they're light, fluffy, and pale, so don't rush it- the process can take 3 to 4 minutes with a heavy duty mixer and 6 to 8 minutes with a hand-held mixer. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Working with a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the dry ingredients and the creme fraiche alternately- 3 additions of dry ingredients, 2 of the creme fraiche. You'll end up with a thick batter.
Baking the cakes Spoon the batter over the rhubarb and smooth the tops by rotating the pans while you run the rubber spatula over the batter. Put the pans on a jelly role pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean. (Test couple of cakes to be certain.) As soon as the cakes are removed from the oven, turn them out of their pans on to a rack.
Serve with whipped cream if desired.
Storage The cakes can be kept wrapped in plastic at room temperature overnight.