LAKE MACBRIDE— A friend was coming to overnight, so I baked a cake— an applesauce cake with rhubarb sauce.
The challenge of growing and preparing local food is cooking, and I don’t mean heating up the latest frozen concoction from H.J. Heinz. It is understanding what types of fruit and vegetables can be consistently sourced locally, then working those items into a localized cuisine— a micro cuisine specific to a household.
For example, we have four apple trees, and at some point we stopped letting them fall for wildlife and started processing them into food. Among other things, I make applesauce— quarts and quarts of it— from the Red and Golden Delicious apples grown on our trees. Are Red Delicious the optimal choice for applesauce? Probably not, but they are what we have.
Over the years I developed two critical things: a recipe for applesauce cake as a way to use up the abundance of canned sauce; and occasions like the visit of a friend to prepare and serve them. Both are important.
This spring we received an abundance of rhubarb from the CSA, so we needed a way to use it. A bag or two from last year is in the freezer, so we don’t need more there. Nor do we dip it in sugar and eat it raw, so I decided to get sauced, making a simple rhubarb and raw honey sauce to top slices of applesauce cake. The recipe is simple cutting, mixing and tasting.
Finely dice a large bunch of rhubarb stalks and place into a saucepan.
Add a tablespoon of water to create the initial steam. The rhubarb will produce a lot of its own moisture, so much that most of it can be removed before adding the honey.
Add a generous amount of local honey to the cooking rhubarb. I used raw honey from the same farm where the rhubarb grew.
Stir until it is incorporated, bring to a boil, and then turn the heat to a simmer and cook. Taste the sauce and adjust honey. No spices are needed, but feel free to add if you like. The rhubarb-honey taste will carry the sauce as it is served.
Cook until the sauce thickens a bit. Serve hot or chilled.
1 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cups applesauce
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup raisins
Cook the raisins in water until plumped. Drain and set aside.
Incorporate applesauce, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and butter in a large bowl.
Sift the flour and raisins into a separate bowl and add the raisins. Stir until the raisins are coated with flour.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and beat well until fully incorporated.
Line a cake pan with parchment paper and pour the cake batter in.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.
Place the cake on a cooling rack.
Serving suggestion. Cut a 1-1/2 inch wedge and place on a small plate. Pour 1/4 cup rhubarb sauce on top and serve. Add whipped cream if you like, or decorate the plate with fresh fruit.