Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sbrisolana di Rabarbaro (Rhubarb crumbly cake)

Sbrisolona is a traditional crumbly cake from Mantova, in the Pianura Padana. The original recipe resembles more that of a cookie than a cake and doesn't include a filling. I created this version as an entry for a fresh produce of the month event featuring rhubarb as an ingredient. The tangy flavor and moistness of the rhubarb pair wonderfuly with the crispy texture and sweet flavor of the crust:

For the dough:
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 cup almonds, finely chopped
- 1 cup finely ground cornmeal
- 1 cup sugar
- zest of a lemon
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 stick of butter
- 2 tablespoon butter for the pan

For the filling:
- 1 pound of Rhubarb
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 1 lemon juice

To make the dough: In a bowl mix the flour, the almonds, the cornmeal and the sugar. Cut the butter in small pieces and add to the flour mixture, working with your hands until small crumbs are formed. Add the yolks and the lemon zest and knead until it is completely incorporated into the mixture. The dough will not be smooth. Instead it will have a very crumbly consistency. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least half hour.

To make the rhubarb filling: Wash rhubarb and cut off any dry or brown spots. Slice rhubarb into 1/2 inch slices. Cook them with the sugar in a saucepan, covered, over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the lid, turn the heat up high and cook, stirring constantly, until you have a thick puree (about 25 minutes). Let it cool.

Assemble the cake: Preheat your oven to 360 F (180 C). Butter a 10 inch round cake pan and sprinkle half of the mixture evenly into it. Press it down in an even layer. Use a small spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the rhubarb filling in an even layer over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the rest of the dough over the filling in an even layer. Bake the cake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar before serving.