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July 1, 2019
This is about...
Molly's Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake---YUM!
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        SAD NEWS HERE. WE LOST DEAR SWEET MOLLY O'NEILL LAST WEEK AFTER A LONG BATTLE WITH CANCER. She was my food writing mentor as well as a mentor to so many you could never count them all. I learned so much from her, especially how to see the world through a new, wider lens. And I ALWAYS MARVELED AT HER WAY WITH WORDS, PICKING JUST THE RIGHT AND MOST EFFICIENT WAY TO GET HER DELICIOUS, WITTY THOUGHTS ON THE PAGE. She will be so missed.
        She visited my shop, Peace, Love and Cupcakes on a number of occasions. And SHE TRULY LOVED MY CUPCAKES, WHICH I TOOK AS HIGH PRAISE INDEED, as she really, and I mean really, knew good food.
        This spring and summertime cake is Molly's--- A Strawberry Rhubarb upside down cake. IT'S AN HUMBLE, UNPRETENTIOUS CAKE, LIGHT AND MOIST AND SO DELICIOUS. A layer of buttery melted sugar, goes in the pan first, followed by fresh strawberries and rhubarb. Then the not-to-sweet cake batter is spread all over the top. After it's baked and has had a few minutes to rest, the most challenging part of making the cake, is quickly flipping it. To insure that it comes out easily, make sure to use parchment for the bottom and thoroughly butter the bottom and sides of the pan. ONCE TURNED OUT, YOU'LL BE REWARDED WITH A JEWEL-LIKE BEAUTY to serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. YUM!
        For me, another fave of hers has always been her beef stew. You can find it on my blog.
        So many of us will miss her. And I am so glad to have had the opportunity to know her. EVEN THOUGH A PAGE HAS TURNED, THROUGH HER RECIPES SHE WILL LIVE ON AND ON IN ALL OF OUR HEARTS.

LESSONS Learned:
1. Do make sure to grease the pan well, layer the bottom with parchment, and then grease the parchment. You want to make sure that the cake comes out in one piece. But don't worry if some of the fruit sticks to the pan, simply place it back on the cake.
2. Molly's original recipe includes a layer of sliced almonds, 1/3 cup, sprinkled over the hot sugar layer. I prefer to omit the nuts, but it will be delicious with them too.
3. Hot sugar is very hot! So, be careful not to touch it, either with the bottom layer , or when you turn it out of the pan.
4. Try other fruits and berries. If rhubarb isn't your fave or you can't find it, try peaches and blueberries, or strawberries and blackberries.
5. To easily cover the fruit, drop dollops of the cake batter all over the fruit first, and then spread it in an even layer.
6. Flipping the pan can be a little challenging. Make sure to wait 10 minutes but no more. and to wear or use oven mitts, and this is important--make sure to check before hand that the plate you are using is big enough for the cake. Mine was just big enough. Phew!

Molly O'Neill's Strawberry Rhubarb UPSIDE down Cake

For the topping:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds, optional
1 pint medium size strawberries, about 12 ounces or 2 1/2 cups, stemmed, hulled and halved
3 cups rhubarb, trimmed, cut across into 1/4 inch thick slices, about 4-5 stalks

For the cake:
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Make the cake:
        Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Thoroughly grease a 9 inch round cake pan with at 2 inch high sides with softened butter. (Do not use a springform pan, it will leak!) Line it with parchment paper and grease the parchment as well.
        To make the topping, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan. Add the brown sugar to the melted butter and cook over low heat until the sugar is just dissolved, stirring until smooth. Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Scatter the almonds, if using, over the brown sugar mixture. Arrange the strawberries over the almonds in concentric circles, cut-side up. Evenly top with the rhubarb and set aside.
        To make the cake, using an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beating well after each addition. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the vanilla with the milk. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until combined.
        Spoon dollops of the batter all over the fruit in the pan, and spread evenly. Bake until the cake springs back when touched in the center, about 1 hour. (Cover the cake with foil if the top browns too much before the cake is done.) Remove the cake from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a cake plate. Replace any fruit that sticks to the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8-10 servings.      YUM!
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