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Every year since I was old enough to bake, I’ve made a rhubarb pie for my Dad for Father’s Day and he’d eat it with a big ol’ scoop of pistachio ice cream. As a little kid it was because I didn’t have any money to buy a special gift. As an adult, the same reasoning holds true. Kidding! (Kind of) Rhubarb season in New England lines up perfectly with Father’s Day. Plus, if you’re lucky a few early strawberries are ready at the same time and you can make one heck of a pie. BUT, I have a secret to confess, I don’t really love pie.
It’s one of my absolute favorite things to make, but in terms of eating, it’s not exactly my thing. Fruit pies are usually a bit too sweet for me (even made with tart rhubarb) and the texture is never that appealing. Cake on the other hand? I could eat it any day of the week.
Enter this Pistachio Rhubarb Cake with creamy and tangy mascarpone frosting. The texture is super moist, it has a ton of nutty flavor from the pistachios and a slight zing from the fresh rhubarb. The candied rhubarb is the proverbial cherry on top here; tastes just like grown up fruit snacks and is actually very easy to make as long as you have a kitchen buddy to help you shape the ribbons quickly before they harden!
Last but not least, this cake is totally gluten free! Make one to bring to your next summer gathering; promise you’ll be favorite. Just like me, right Dad?!
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper, then spray the sides with non-stick baking spray.
To make the cake, add pistachios to a high-speed blender or food processor and grind until a flour-like consistency is achieved.
Add pistachio flour to a large bowl and whisk in cornmeal, sugar, lemon zest, baking soda, salt, baking powder and cardamom.
In a separate medium-sized bowl whisk together eggs, olive oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold gently until combined. Add chopped rhubarb and fold until combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until the center of the cake is set and springs back to the touch.
Let cake cool on a wire rack. While the cake cools, make the candied rhubarb. Reduce oven temperature to 250ºF and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
Add water and sugar to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 2 minutes, or until sugar has dissolved. Add rhubarb ribbons and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened.
Working quickly, remove the rhubarb from the syrup and lay out on the prepared baking sheet, taking care not to overlap. Reserve excess syrup.
Place the tray in the oven and bake for about 45-60 minutes, or until dry and crisp, but not brown. Remove from the oven and quickly shape around the handle of a wooden spoon into spirals. Once it hardens, slide it off the spoon and repeat with remaining rhubarb strips. Set aside.
Flip the semi-cooled cake out onto a serving platter and brush with ¼ cup of reserved rhubarb syrup. Save any excess for another use. Let cake soak while you make the frosting.
To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add mascarpone and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add powdered sugar, milk, vanilla bean paste and beat until incorporated.
Top cooled cake with frosting and garnish with candied rhubarb.