The living is easy, this gorgeous month of August. I say gorgeous because I’m a positive person, and I like this little weather dance in greys and sun that has been going on for the past couple of days. Right now, it’s spitting outside, which is good for the rhubarb. At least I think it is, and I’m going to find out because my morning swim included a big batch of firm, red stalks. The plant is in my friend Edith’s garden – as is the pool – and I go there often, this week every morning after dropping off Fiona at her catamaran camp. So, twenty laps, a bunch of rhubarb, and now I’m home.
What is the point of the rhubarb? Aili Takala’s Rhubarb cake, the best on earth. It is a very American cake, dense, redolent of cinnamon, studded with tart and tiny squares of rhubarb. It couldn’t be farther from the French version of cake, which is lightened with egg whites, flavored with almonds. Aili’s rhubarb cake is frank, delicious and filling. I’ve never yet met a person who didn’t love it. Aili was a Finnish farmer in Montana – her story is in the Farmhouse Cookbook (Workman 1991, pages 331 and 416).
I’ve created an addiction to the cake in the Leroy household, so Edith begged me to make one and offered the rhubarb. We have a date Saturday morning to go to the Louviers market together. She suggested we take a piece with us to the café where we have coffee – if I do that, though, everyone there will want a taste and I’ll never live it down; everyone will want one of their own!