Monday, August 20, 2007

La Festa al Fresco - Lime, Orange and Rhubarb Cake

How would you like to join the blog world's biggest patio party? When I heard that Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and Lis of La Mia Cucina were hosting La Festa al Fresco for the second year in a row, I couldn't resist the invitation. The concept is simple: prepare a dish using a fresh seasonal ingredient (preferably local) for the patio party.

It is winter in Australia, and locally grown citrus fruits and rhubarb are in season. Accordingly, when I saw the fantastic photo of Lime, Orange and Rhubarb Cake on p106 of the September edition of Cuisine, with a subtitle of "Citrus Reigns", I knew that I had found my dish for La Festa al Fresco.

As its name suggests, this cake is resplendent inside with lime zest, lime juice and stewed rhubarb, is decorated with orange segments and then drenched in lime syrup. It was a very time-consuming cake, because the oranges must be peeled and sectioned, and then each segment must be stripped of its membrane - while remaining intact! This was quite a challenging task. The cake also took much longer than the one hour stated in the recipe to bake. Despite my oven usually being pretty close on timing for most recipes, and even though I used the correct 20cm sized cake tin, my cake took an hour and a half to cook through to the centre, which stayed stubbornly runny.

I was very grateful for the Microplane zester given to me by Katie of Other People's Food in my Blogging by Mail package for the purpose of zesting the limes. It was so quick and efficient using this tool - thanks Katie!

Although the finished cake looks quite dark on the outside, don't be fooled - it was moist and perfect under that dark crumb. The rhubarb gives the cake a lovely pink swirl and flavour, and the lime syrup really adds a zingy citrus finish to the cake.

Unlike the author of this recipe, who prefers this cake served warm on the day it is made, I preferred it served cold the next day, when the citrus flavours had matured. The fact that the cold cake was delicious was confirmed by Sam, who sent me the following email comment on the cake:

Cold is excellent because you really get the full citrus hit ... It is a pretty cake also – the rhubarb makes it look like a pretty tea cake but with the full hit of a dessert cake.

I didn't have high hopes that the troops would like this cake, because it is rather different to what I have made before, but it disappeared quite quickly! I think I can safely say that I have a hit.

This cake would be perfect to serve at a winter dinner party, served warm with Greek yoghurt (as suggested by the author). However, I also think it would be great served cold sliced into generous wedges at a picnic - or of course, at a patio party!

Thanks to Ivonne and Lis for organising La Festa al Fresco - I look forward to "attending" the roundup on 9 September.


creampuff said...

What a cake, indeed! It sounds like it would taste so bright and refreshing. Thank you so much for baking it and for taking part in La Festa al Fresco!

Lis said...

Amazing looking cake! Thank you so much for bringing it to the Festa.. you can count me in for a huge slice. ;)


Cakelaw said...

Thanks Ivonne and Lis for your comments and for organising this terrific event. I've reserved you a virtual slice Lis!

Morven said...

I had bookmarked this recipe myself and if I'd gotten organised I would have made it for the Festa. Great minds think alike :-) Glad it turned out well for you. Oooh and aren't those microplanes great - I almost want to concentrate on citrus flavours just so I can use mine!

Cakelaw said...

Thanks Morven. Definitely try out that microplane zester - you will never look back!