oh, spring

may lilacs

All week, you have been fascinating me with your comments on the giveaway post (where there’s still time to enter!), as you’ve shared who inspires you to cook and/or some teachable kitchen moments you’ve experienced. With the inspiration answers especially, I find myself mentally nodding my head with you, because it’s so true that I get pulled towards cooking via a myriad of sources—my family, other food bloggers, magazines, commercials, TV, something random someone says in the middle of the afternoon. And I think all these things are good to think about, especially so we can remember them on those days when we’re not so eager to cook.

But the inspiration for today’s recipes is something I hadn’t really thought about before, something that several of you said strikes you the same way: this beautiful time of year we call spring.

Oh, spring.

I have been marveling at spring this year: the buds on branches, the evening thunderstorms, the colorful flowers everywhere you turn. And, as it is with some of the best things in life, just when I think I can’t possibly appreciate it anymore than I already do, spring goes and surprises me again.


Like last weekend. I had decided to make a quick stop at a local French market that people seem to love on Yelp. I went in with $20 in my purse and a hunger for nothing special, and I came out, in 15 minutes no less, with two boxes of green beans, a pound of asparagus, two bags of mixed greens and a bunch of tall and red fresh rhubarb, for a grand total of $8.50.

Spring! Oh, Spring!

rhubarb on table

This might be a good time to recall that CSA I participated in last summer, which while I loved (and if you have a bigger household, it is really worth looking into), I also struggled with its sheer quantity of vegetables (organic! beautiful! but just too much for one person). That’s why this year’s plan is to shop at more farmers’ markets, to buy locally and seasonally but just less.

If Saturday was any indication, I’d say this plan is going to go very well.


When I came home and decided what to do with my inspirations, here is what I came up with for the rhubarb: a spelt lemon rhubarb cake and homemade rhubarb ice cream. The two recipes together used up the whole bunch, and since making them Sunday, I’ve had ready dessert all week. I even brought half the cake over to my friends’ house while we watched the almost-last episode of LOST Tuesday night.

(A brief moment of silence for LOST ending soon.)

lemon rhubarb spelt cake

The cake is tart and moist, with golden firm edges and a soft, near gooey center.

that was some red rhubarb

I love the way the flecks of red rhubarb contrast the pale color of the base, and I love how the combination of lemon and rhubarb make your mouth pucker, but the sugar in the batter balances everything out.

lemon rhubarb spelt cake

Plus, because this cake is made with spelt flour (which you may remember from those iced chocolate cookies recently?), you know it’s made with a grain that’s easier to digest and higher in protein than wheat, not to mention high in B complex vitamins.

(Sometime, I’d like to try making a cake like this after soaking the spelt flour ahead of time. But that’s a post for another time.)

top of lemon rhubarb spelt cake

The second thing I made was the ice cream, mostly because I love having homemade ice cream on hand. I used regular organic sugar rather than sucanat or raw cane sugar, again just because I had it on hand and need to use it up anyway. I’d be curious to see how those alternatives (or perhaps honey?) could work instead; sometimes with ice cream, it’s harder to get the right consistency with substitutions.

chopped rhubarb to boil

This ice cream starts with a base of chopped fresh rhubarb, cooked down with water and sugar, then pureed until smooth and fragrant. You chill it, add fresh cream and whole milk, and stick the whole mixture in an ice cream maker for a half hour.

rhubarb ice cream

In the end, it’s creamy and icy, tart and sweet, very refreshing, simple. I might have liked the tart rhubarb flavor to be a bit stronger, so next time I’d try reducing the sugar and/or adding more rhubarb (or maybe lemon juice?), but overall it was quite nice.

spoonful of ice cream

And while I finished the cake and while I keep scooping up ice cream after dinner each night, I’ve been looking out the windows, stepping into the sunshine, savoring everything there is to like about spring.

Spelt Lemon Rhubarb Cake with Cinnamon Crunch Topping
Adapted from WaitRose.com

1 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup almond meal (or ground almonds)
3/4 cup sugar (I had organic regular sugar to use up, but Sucanat would probably be better)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 1/3 cup chopped rhubarb
2 to 3 Tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. (Greasing the tin/paper is not necessary. I was worried about this, but I didn’t need to be.)

In a large bowl, combine spelt flour, almond meal, sugar, salt, baking powder, lemon zest and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter and eggs; whisk in milk and lemon juice.

Fold the milk mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring briefly until combined. Do not overmix, or the cake will be heavy.

Pour a third of the batter into the tin. Scatter over half the rhubarb. Add another third of batter, then cover with the rest of the rhubarb. Top with the remaining batter and sprinkle with the raw sugar and the rest of the cinnamon.

Bake for about 50 minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the pan’s edges. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before opening latch to release cake from pan. You can turn it out onto a wired rack if you’d like; I left it on the pan bottom and put that onto a plate.

Homemade Rhubarb Ice Cream
Adapted from Sugar Laws

4 stalks rhubarb, about 1 1/4 lbs
1 cup water
3/4 cup organic sugar
1 cup cream
1 cup milk (I used whole)

Trim the ends of the rhubarb stalks and chop them into half-inch pieces. Place the pieces in a saucepan with sugar and water on high heat, and boil for about 10-15 minutes, or until broken down into a jelly-type consistency.

Remove the rhubarb from the saucepan, and blend or puree in a food processor (or very carefully with an immersion blender right in the pan, if you’re like me) until smooth. Place the pureed rhubarb in the refrigerator to cool for at least 2 hours.

After the mixture has chilled, add cream and milk, and churn the whole thing in an ice-cream machine for about 30 minutes, or until thick and creamy. Serve immediately, and feel free to freeze the leftovers in a freezer-safe container. (Note: Personally, I like to take the leftovers out of the freezer about 15 minutes before I want to eat them, so the ice cream has time to thaw a little.)

22 Comment

  1. Kim says: Reply

    Goodness, it’s like the food blog world has exploded with rhubarbs today! I have never cooked with rhubarb, though there is a strawberry rhubarb pie that I just die for…it used to be at our farmer’s market, but the pieman wasn’t there the last few times we went. Hopefully he will be back again this year…and I will make some rhubarb treats of my own.

  2. Tammy says: Reply

    We need to be friends! I can’t believe I’ve never been to the Wheaton French Market, but on your recommendation I will be going SOON (I work just a mere 15 min from there!), I love homemade ice cream (and rhubarb) with a passion, and I stopped while reading just to have the moment of silence for LOST ending soon.

  3. Jacqui says: Reply

    Lovely rhubarb photos. Farmer’s markets hold so much inspiration! Although, just today I picked up some greens and I can’t remember what they were called! This cake sounds so good, I bet it would be good with raspberries and cherries when their in season. Yum, thank you!

  4. Wow–you’ve been busy! I adore rhubarb in every form. It says “Spring” like nothing else.

  5. Maddie says: Reply

    That scoop of homemade ice cream is killing me. The pale pink color is really beautiful!

    What sort of ice-cream maker do you use? I’ve had my eye on Cuisinart’s $50 version for some time, and every time I see an inventive flavor creation like this one, I feel another tug at my heartstrings to make that small investment of money/countertop space.

  6. Jacqui says: Reply

    totally forgot about how the weather and the season is so much an inspiration. and hooray for farmers markets — if you ever need a market buddy, give me a call!

  7. kate says: Reply

    I’ve adored rhubarb since I was old enough to snap the stalks off the large bush in our backyard. I recently made a crisp, flavored with cardamom and now have yet another means of enjoying this fleeting food in the most glorious of seasons. That cake sure looks like a winner!

  8. YUM!!!! we have a place at the end of our road – you just go along the lake, for a mile – and there’s a cottage there that has a HUGE amount of rhubarb bushes.and guess what? THEY DON”T LIKE RHUBARB! (what? i know!) so i asked a few years ago if i could use some. and he said yes. and we have so much lovely rhubarb, for free, every year. i look forward to it!

    now these recipes? YUM> thanks!

  9. Tim says: Reply

    That is such a crazy good deal for all of that produce at the farmer’s market. Shoot.

  10. Kasey says: Reply

    I, too, love Spring. It always feels like a rise from a deep hibernation. Last week, I ate my first apricot and it was just so glorious. I love the idea of making rhubarb ice cream–tangy and creamy. Yum!

  11. Spring is hear, truly ushered in with blooming beauties, and veggies. Love the crusty edges of the cake (I’m a crust babe).

  12. I meant to say Spring is here 🙂

  13. Kim, I know! I know! The day or two before I posted this, I kept seeing rhubarb pop up. It’s that time of year!

    Tammy, Well, I agree! I’ll probably be back at the farmers’ market next on June 19, which I know sounds like a really long time from now. But if you’re up for it, I’ll walk the tents with you!

    Jacqui, That’s awesome about your greens – I’m sure you’ve finished them off by now, but I hope you loved them!

    Leftoverist, Indeed!

    Maddie, My ice cream maker is a sad little hand-me-down that I really couldn’t recommend… it gets the job done, but it’s not terribly good at it, ha! Having one is definitely worth it though – buy one! Buy one!

    Jacqui, What are you doing a few Saturdays from now? June 19, I think we bloggers should all hang!

    Kate, Oh cardamom would be so nice in something with rhubarb. That sounds lovely!

    JessieV, Their loss = your gain! That’s awesome!

    Tim, I know! I thought so, too. Well, shoot indeed.

    Kasey, Tangy and creamy – that is exactly it!

    Kitchen butterfly, Love the term “crust babe” – ha! And hooray for spring! : )

  14. Jarrelle says: Reply

    Shanna! I wish we lived closer together and we could make fun creations together! I can’t wait to make some rhubarb recipes before it quickly leaves us!

  15. Gemma says: Reply

    This cake looks wonderful. I have finally embraced rhubarb this year after years of being anti (old childhood prejudices) and am very glad I did. Maybe I’ll squeeze in one more recipe before it disappears again.

  16. Tammy says: Reply

    Shannalee – I will be out of town for most of June – but I really would love to go with you – maybe July or August?

  17. Jarrelle!!!! Me too! I can’t believe you’ve gone and left Tennessee right before I’m going to go back for a visit. Please have a layover in Chicago again soon. 🙂

    Gemma, Hooray for learning to like things we thought we hated. I so know about that! And if you’re going to squeeze one more thing in, this would be a great one.

    Tammy, Sounds great! Those months are all pretty wide open as of now, so you can name the weekend. Maybe let me know when it gets closer? Looking forward to it!

  18. Emily says: Reply

    Shannalee – I will be out of town for most of June – but I really would love to go with you – maybe July or August?

  19. Emily, That’s exactly what Tammy said, so sure! It’ll be a fun blogger meetup!

  20. Tammy says: Reply

    Ok that is SO funny – I was thinking, how did Emily repost what I said? LOL Let’s set a date – FUN!

  21. Tammy says: Reply

    I’m just now getting to this!!! Life has turned crazy for me – after being out of town for 3 weeks my husband got a job in Michigan – we are moving August 1st!!! So I will continue to know you from afar reading your blog Shannalee – and absolutely continuing to love it!

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