I have held off on posting recipes lately, because there are much bigger things that are happening in the world right now. I feel like these things are much more important than the recipes and selfies I may post. Instagram has been a helpful platform to boost these conversations, and the blog has also been on conscious hold to focus on that. Now that the media attention is dying down, and things appear to be returning to “normal” I would like to encourage you to not fall into the status quo. Throughout this recipe, I will share links to bail funds, Black led organizations, and petitions that require your attention. I hope that while you wait for this cake to set in the oven, you can contribute some time to this hugely important and long overdue cause.
To begin, one organization I have been donating to is People’s Breakfast Oakland. You can read about them here and links to donate to them here. This is local to my home state, and as a community based organization they have tackled the pandemic alongside the recent anti racist uprisings.
I went strawberry picking for an activity to do this week, driving out to Surrey for some social distanced fun. We walked away from this with rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries. When I got home, I realized our veg box also included strawberries and suddenly we were overwhelmed. After a long time online researching various recipes, I found one for a rhubarb strawberry upside down cake. Perfect.
The first step to making this cake is to blanch the rhubarb. (After rinsing off your fruits of course). To blanch it, you must bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and have a bowl of ice water ready on the side. It goes very very quick! Your rhubarb should be just long enough to fit into the pot. Once the water is boiling, put them in for 30 seconds, and then as soon as that’s over, transfer to the ice water again for about 30 seconds. You just want it to stop cooking, so once cooled, wrap the rhubarb in a dish towel and leave it to dry on the side. I used 1 pint of strawberries and probably about 1 pint of rhubarb.
While this is going on, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (about 350 F). Then, you can look at this list of UK and International petitions that you can sign. Petitions are a heavily popular and easy way to be active, however be aware that Change.org is not a trustworthy organization, and you should not donate money to them. UK Parliament petitions will push these subjects to be debated and hopefully see change – particularly in the realm of decolonising education.
Now, you will half the strawberries (after washing and hulling them). Pat the rhubarb to ensure that it is dry and chop it into small pieces. If the rough outside (like celery) wants to come off, then simply peel it away. Get a 9″ cake pan ready, either greasing it or adding parchment to the bottom. Mine is nonstick, so I simply buttered the heck out of it. Also, as it is a springform pan, I learned the hard way that liquid will leak from the bottom – if yours is also springform then have a tinfoil lined tray ready to place on the rack underneath the cake.
To make the topping, melt 57g of butter in a pan on medium low heat and add 3/4 C of brown sugar (150g). Stir this mixture until the sugar has fully melted. Remove from the heat and spread this along the bottom of your cake tin. Arrange the strawberries cut side up in concentric circles in this mixture. Add the rhubarb on top, filling in the empty spaces left by the strawberries. Set this aside.
While you are thinking about how to beautifully arrange the strawberries on top of this cake, you can also think about what book you might read next. Plenty of lists on antiracist literature are circulating these days, but instead of supporting Amazon or other big name booksellers, you could buy both local and Black – where you spend your money has a lot of power in the hypercapitalist world that we live in. Here is just one list of Black owned bookshops in the states (there are many options, and I encourage you to look by state/city closest to you!) and here is a list for those of us in London. In the UK there is also, in Edinburgh, another excellent bookshop.
In order to make the cake, it is as simple a making a cake can be. You must use some softened, room temperature butter (113g) and cream it together with 1 cup of sugar (200g). Once this is creamed together, then add 2 eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. In another bowl, sift together 1.5 C flour (150g), 2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. And in a third bowl, add 1/2 C milk (118mL) and 1.5 tsps vanilla.
Alternate adding flour mix and milk mix to the butter, starting and ending with the flour, until all of the ingredients are combined. Squeeze a bit of lemon (about 1 tsp) into the mixture, and mix this together again. Spread this batter over top the rhubarb and strawberries and place in the preheated oven to bake for approximately 45 minutes.
45 minutes is plenty of time to learn about the racist and classist history of the police in the USA. You could download this free ebook which offers a very brief peek into how the police have infiltrated so many areas of our lives, particularly in recent times. You can read about how the use of force is due to heavy militarization and enormous funding boosts. Once you’ve read this you can read this confessional posted by a former cop, who recognizes that the “few bad apples” argument can’t be applied to an institutionalized system which unfairly targets poor, black and brown bodies. If you feel very motivated, you can use one of these templates to email government officials in your area to demand that the police departments be defunded, because if you look into it it is very likely that the police budget where you’re from is near or over 50% of the total budget, ignoring important community initiatives in favor of heavy policing that does not solve the issues at hand. A world without police is hugely possible. I hope that we see it soon.
Check in on the cake, stick a skewer into it to check that it is evenly cooked, remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. CAREFULLY, turn the cake out onto a cake plate. This is best enjoyed warm, so don’t hesitate to tuck right in. And ta da! You have now hopefully dedicated some time to the cause and also made a gorgeous cake.
There is plenty more to be learned, this is a life’s work, and as a non-Black person it will take a lot of intentional UNlearning. There are so many resources available right now online, and I encourage you to look into the various ways that you can help out.
The final resource I will mention is due to Pride month but outside of the month of June, an intentional hatred of specifically Black Trans bodies permeates our world. Violence against the transgender community, particularly against Black Trans women, is a particular crisis within this larger movement where Black Trans women face an unbelievably high risk of being murdered. We need to not only check our biases on color, but also sexuality. More concretely, we can donate to funds and stand up for justice. Here is one fund where you can donate.
While you eat this delicious cake, consider sharing this recipe and some of these resources with friends and family around you. Just because Black Lives Matter is no longer the center of media attention does not mean that this cause has gone away. There are still protests, movements, and plenty of learning to be done.
Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down cake
- 1 Pint strawberries
- 1 Pint rhubarb
- 57g melted butter
- 3/4 c brown sugar
- Blanch rhubarb and wash fruit. Hull and half the strawberries.
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Spread in the bottom of a 9″ greased (or parchment lined) cake tin.
- Arrange strawberries in concentric circles in the mixture, fill in the gaps with rhubarb and spread the rest over top. Set aside
- 113g softened butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 Cup (200g) granulated white sugar
- 1/2Cup (118mL) milk
- 1&1/2 tsps vanilla extract
- 1&1/2 C (150g) flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- ~1 tsp lemon juice
- Cream together butter and sugar.
- Add eggs and mix until fully incorporated.
- In separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another mix milk and vanilla.
- Alternate adding flour mix and milk mix to the butter, beginning and ending with the flour.
- Squeeze in lemon juice and mix.
- Spread the batter evenly over the fruit.
- Bake for about 45 minutes, until the center is no longer wet and the cake seems set.
- Let cool ~5 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a cake plate, replacing any fruit that sticks in the pan. Eat warm!
I truly hope that you enjoy this cake as well as the opportunity to help out in the greater movement. This is not just focussed in the US or UK, these issues appear in France, in Germany, all across our world. If you are reading from one of these countries, please look into resources to support your local cause as well.