Rhubarb is not easy to grow in the south. The high heat and humidity make it challenging for this Siberian transplant. Some of the varieties can survive in our area, Nashville zone 7a, such as Victoria, Canada Red, Cherry Red or Valentine, but afternoon shade is the key. Plant the crowns on a Northern slope or in an area that gets shade in the afternoon so that the soil temperatures stay cooler, be sure it gets plenty of water too. In my garden, I have four Victoria crowns growing, the most commonly found variety here in Nashville, and I use large, plastic bread racks to provide shade for the plants during the hottest periods of summer.
This year, I was surprised at how quickly all of the crowns grew and I was able to harvest some stalks to both make this cake and to freeze for later. One of my favorite cakes to bake is an upside-down cake. Being able to turn a fully decorated cake out of a pan is so much better than having to frost and decorate layers. As beautiful as it is, the stalks made me think of celery-luckily, it didn’t taste like celery!
This recipe is a work in progress and I am not posting it here but it is based on a Persian Love cake made with pistachios, lemon zest, cardamom and rosewater. To decorate it a little after turning it out of the pan, I sprinkled chopped pistachios and rose petals around the edges. Because this was a large cake, 9″x13″, I took it to a Master Gardener meeting and potluck dinner, I came home with a very small piece; I ate it for breakfast the next day.