There isn’t anything better than summer nights in Finland. Our garden is surrounded with lilacs (our own bushes and our neighbors also) and the scent really hits you when you step into the cool night air. Paired with the blackbird singing and the amazing light – it’s something that you have to wonder every single year. This season is gone so quickly that you try to grab every last lilac branch and rhubarb that you possibly can, which leads me to this recipe.
There is a traditional coffee pastry in Finland, called a tosca cake. Tosca means the caramel like topping which consists of melted butter, almond flakes and sugar. First you make the cake base, put it in the oven for a while and and melt your tosca topping ingredients in a pan, then spread the topping on top of your cake base and give it a final browning in the oven. The result is a gooey, caramel goodness with browned almonds and a sugary bliss. Basically a lot of goodness.
This is a seasonal version of that tosca cake and it is one of my favorite ways of using rhubarb. The tartness of the fruit cuts down the sugar filled topping and makes an irresistible thing to eat. The original version calls for vanilla sugar, but I have to have cardamom with rhubarb – simply won’t have it without.
Rhubarb cake & almond caramel (or tosca)
170 grams of sugar
100 grams melted butter
195 grams plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cardamom
3 cups rhubarb cut into pieces
100 grams butter
65 grams sugar
2 tbs flour
1 tbs milk
100 grams almond flakes
In one bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and ground cardamom. Melt the butter and let it cool a bit. Turn the oven to 380F /200C. Butter and flour a cake tin (I prefer springform pan à 27 cm) or use a baking paper inside your pan to prevent sticking. Rinse and dry the rhubarb stalks, cut into tiny pieces.
Whip sugar and eggs in another bowl with an electric whisker until pale and fluffy. Add in butter whisking slowly. Then add in the flour mixture in batches and mix until even batter is formed. Batter will be runny, don’t worry about it.
Pour the batter into the cake tin and add your rhubarb pieces on top (you can push the pieces into the batter slightly). Push the tin into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes on a low rack. You might want to put a sheet under your springform pan, in case of batter leakage.
Add all the almond caramel ingredients into a tiny pan, put the heat on and let the butter melt, until there’s tiny bubbling happening and then take it off the heat. Mix if the caramel is trying to stick onto the pan, or add in more milk if necessary. Take the cake from the oven, spread the almond mixture on top and put the cake back into the oven for 10 minutes or until it has browned.
Let the cake cool and take it off the tin. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if you wish.