Oh springtime, you most gentle of seasons, on one day you bring sunshine and warmth, and on the next a tranquil fog.
The quiet morning unfolds with the aroma of coffee as I unload the dishwasher and begin the next phase of cleaning up. These mornings after, with vestiges of the previous night’s book club meal, involve reflection and reminiscing: new friends and old, successful new recipes, and countless tangents originating from one common book. These book club dinners, begun just months ago, have become an instant highlight in each one of our lives.
As I load the dishwasher with the next batch of bowls and glasses, I pour remnants of milky broth speckled with parsley, shallots, and bay leaves down the drain. The fragrant scent of mussels lingers in the air and I light candles to freshen the room, enjoying the special quality they add to the morning. I take a bite of rhubarb cake, leftover from the night before, and sip my coffee, which cools rapidly in the ceramic mug.
I have come to enjoy these still, quiet mornings and to savor the freshness of a cloudy spring day. While the sunny days of the past week beckoned us to hurry outside, today with its diffused light and tranquil stillness seems to give us permission to just be—to enjoy a leisurely walk with a friend, to read a few extra books to my son before his nap, to linger at the computer and enjoy the process of writing as much as the progress, even as the kitchen remains cluttered.
Oh springtime, you most gracious of seasons! Even as I write this, the blue sky emerges from the fading clouds and the sunlight casts its warm rays on the trees outside. Morning has transitioned to afternoon, with the promise of a mild evening and the possibility of a dinner enjoyed outdoors. But not before I head back to the kitchen and finish the final phase of cleaning—and eat another bite of rhubarb cake.
Norwegian Rhubarb Cake (Rabarbrakake)
Adapted from Norwegian National Recipes, this recipe features the exact proportions called for in the original, but elaborates on the instructions, which were limited. So, what you’ll find here is a true classic. Please try to bake this cake within a few hours of serving. At its most moist and tender in the first three hours, this is the perfect time to present it to guests. I must add, though, that you shouldn’t hesitate to enjoy the leftovers with a cup of coffee the next morning as you get ready to start your day–consider it a host or hostess’ reward.
1/4 cup salted butter
1/3 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large stalk rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, then remove from the heat and stir in the milk. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy. While continuing to stir, slowly pour in the melted butter. Add flour and baking powder and mix until combined.
Pour batter into an 8-inch springform pan and sprinkle the rhubarb over the top, making sure the rhubarb doesn’t touch the sides of the pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean–this took about an hour for me, but check it in advance. Allow to cool and carefully remove from the pan. This cake would be lovely served with whipped cream, as the original recipe suggests, but is also delicious plain.