I definitely go through phases when it comes to choosing ingredients for baking experiments. Rhubarb seems to be everywhere at the moment and I can't avoid it, nor do I really want to! Even when I visited Cafe Sopra on the weekend, they were serving their amazing cheesecake with baked rhubarb on the side. (Unfortunately I couldn't convince anyone to eat it with me. Who says you can't have cheesecake for breakfast?!)
Becasse and was surprised at how well these went together. It may have also been because I was out of apples but conveniently had a big bag of mandarins to use up. Anyway, these cakes are sweet, light and moist, my only problem was that I softened my rhubarb too much and it disintegrated a bit and I didn't quite get my syrup thick enough so they were a little mushier than I would have liked. But they do taste fantastic.
Rhubarb & Mandarin Upside-Down Cakes
(adapted from recipe in The Essential Baking Cookbook)
250g rhubarb, chopped into 2cm pieces
2-3 mandarins, peeled
1/3 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup self-raising flour
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly grease a muffin/cupcake tray. Put the sugar in a small saucepan with 1/3 cup water and heat gently, shaking occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and cook until a pale caramel colour. I added the rhubarb to the syrup and stirred it in to turn the syrup a lovely pink colour and to soften the rhubarb a bit (because I wouldn't be cooking it as long in the oven due to the smaller size). Pour equal amounts of the syrup and rhubarb amongst the muffin tray. Press a couple pieces of mandarin into the caramel in each muffin hole.