Adapted from a NY Times Cooking recipe by Molly O’Neill, this cake is smooth, dense and filled with sweet and tart flavors from Strawberries and Rhubarb and a delightful vanilla note from the cake. So easy to prepare, too! I adapted the recipe by preparing it in a cast-iron skillet (this saves dirtying a saucepan and a greasing/parchment paper step. I also inadvertently skipped the blanching step. Not sure it’s necessary.
The cake is wonderful served warm with ice cream or whipped cream, but is also delicious room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350F (340F for convection). In a 9″ cast iron skillet, heat the 4 T butter until melted. Add the brown sugar and cook until the sugar is melted and dissolved and mixture is smooth. Spread evenly over pan bottom. Spread the almonds over the butter-sugar mixture, then top the almonds with strawberry halves, keeping cut-side up. You can make it pretty by arranging in concentric circles if you like. Spread the rhubarb chunks over the berries. Set aside.
Use an electric or hand mixer to cream the 1/2 cup butter and the sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the milk and vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 increments, alternating with the milk mixture. Mix until just combined. (Cake will be tough if you overmix.)
Pour the batter over the topping in the pan. Spread evenly to the edges so the top is flat. Bake 55-60 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Remove from oven, let cool slightly (5-10 minutes). Run a sharp knife between the cake and sides of the pan, and invert onto your serving dish.