I am blown away by spring in Washington.
Everywhere we turn there is a blooming tree or a garden full of color.
It was spring break last week and the children were out of school. My friend Lecia invited us for a day trip to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which is something of an institution around here. It felt strange to be out and about, going on with our lives and laughing after the horrific bombings in Boston. We couldn’t get the images out of our minds and the suffering of those affected. It always feels strange and so unfair. There was definitely some air of mourning that day, but we wanted the children to live and laugh – as they are supposed to do. So I packed a picnic and we joined Lecia and her boys Abbott and Cal for a day in the country.
As we drove north, the fog and clouds opened up to magnificent blue skies, mountains and a bucolic landscape of red barns, goats and flowers. I love conversing with Lecia whose insight into the world is always thoughtful and full of compassion. Our boys loved sharing and playing.
The tulip fields were in full splendor – perfect infinite lines of color against the blue horizon. And it was out lucky day… the fields were muddy, which turned to be the most amusing event of the day. Wellies covered in crusty mud make the best play time, don’t they?
So we walked, ran, photographed and then we had a picnic.
I had made a simple rice, bonito tuna, avocado, tomato and mâche salad for us to share. Even without the vinaigrette that I had forgotten at home, the whole thing was devoured. Then we had apples, strawberries, and the banana, hazelnut and chocolate bread, which is in my book.
And then there was this cake, which I made with the bundles of bundles of rhubarb I have at home now. Compulsive rhubarb purchases perhaps? I just cannot get enough of it. I have been eating it stewed in the morning with kefir and as an afternoon snack on toasted bread and drizzle of raw honey. I have also eyed a couple of savory dishes I will be adding it too.
So back to the cake. It is gluten and dairy free, really moist from all the fruit and lightly flavored with pink peppercorns, ginger and lemon. And in case you think using pink peppercorns in a cake is odd… please reconsider. They really enhance berries. Give it a try.
Remember the pink peppercorn macarons from way back when?
Pink peppercorn-kissed rhubarb and berry cake
Makes one 8-inch cake
1 cup (250 ml) full-fat coconut milk (canned)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup (140 g) superfine brown rice flour
3/4 cup (90 g) millet flour
3/4 cup (90 g) quinoa flour
1/4 cup (25 g) almond flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (115 g) natural cane sugar
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
3 small eggs (my friend Kim gave me some and they had deep orange yolks which make the cake rich and yellow)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 ounces (90 g) diced rhubarb
3 ounces (90 g) sliced strawberries
3 ounces (90 g) raspberries
1/2 teaspoon ground pink peppercorns
1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Stir the coconut milk and lemon juice together. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the superfine brown rice, millet, quinoa, almond flour, baking powder, sea salt, and ground ginger.
3. In a medium bowl, rub 1/2 cup (100 g) of the sugar together with the lemon zest until it becomes very fragrant. Add the eggs, coconut milk mixture, and olive oil and whisk to combine. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and fold to combine. Pour the batter in the prepared cake pan and top with rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries. Sprinkle the top with remaining sugar and ground pink peppercorns.
4. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes before inverting. Store wrapped in the refrigerator.