Trust the Process- It’s Delicious!

This weekend I drove from central Massachusetts all the way to northeastern Rhode Island to visit my sister, Syllie. We spent the day chatting, drinking tea, and using some of the rhubarb that has been taking up space in my freezer. Here is the recipe we selected: Rhubarb Pudding Cake. This looked like a good choice because it uses quite a bit (four and a half cups) of rhubarb. All of the other ingredients are kitchen staples. What seemed odd to us was the method. However, we trusted the process, and here is what happened.

First we gathered our completely ordinary ingredients. Next, we dumped the still frozen rhubarb into the greased baking pan. Note Syllie removing a stringy bit from the pan. Here is where things got a little strange. No sugar was added to the rhubarb. If you have ever tasted fresh rhubarb you are probably just as suspicious as we were. We measured the dry ingredients, the wet ingredients, and the topping ingredients into separate bowls as the oven preheated.

We used Syllie’s handy electric mixer to combine the cake ingredients. I am very glad we used the power tools for this step. When the recipe says the batter will be thick they were not kidding. In fact, we were worried that the low moisture content would make the cake dry. Again, we just trusted the process.

I managed to transfer the batter/dough to the pan. It took some effort to get it into an even layer. Full disclosure- I did resort to using my hands. Syllie then sprinkled the cinnamon-sugar-cornstarch topping over the batter. Finally, we came to the really, really strange step.

We dumped boiling water over the whole thing. We really had to put our faith in the recipe here. Neither of us had ever heard of a dessert made this way before. Finally, the pan, with a puddle of water in the bottom, went into the oven.

And an hour later a perfectly normal looking dessert emerged! The cinnamon-sugar-cornstarch mix had turned into a thin, crispy film over the cake. The rhubarb was cooked, but not mushy. Some of the sugar from the topping seemed to have been carried to the rhubarb by the boiling water, because it was just sweet enough. The cake was not dry. We enjoyed the cake with a little vanilla ice cream. I will definitely make this again.

Learning a new recipe always involves trust. This recipe was so different from anything Syllie or I had made before, we were on pins and needles waiting for it to bake. I am so glad we tried it! What is the most unexpected cooking method you have tried? Did it work out? Share in the comments.