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Orchids make me anxious. It’s not just the glamorous good looks, the frail stems, the supermodel attitude. It’s their habit of dropping dead. Or worse: near dead.

Happens all the time. I bring home some produce-aisle phalaenopsis; I admire its elegant blossoms, its tropical scent, its bored stare. Then watch the blooms shrivel and drop, never to return.

Eventually I gave up. Though one of my plants didn’t. Its limp leaves slumped across the pot, green and dejected. I think it kept up the last-gasp routine out of malice.

Years into this standoff, I noticed that my orchid’s sunny window wasn’t particularly sunny. I moved the plant and pointed out the garden, where rhubarb – all sturdy pink stems and poisonous green leaves – was bounding from the dirt.

Awakening the competitive spirit. Within weeks my orchid had sprung a nub, like a toddler’s first tooth. Soon it flaunted four downward-facing preroots and one upward-facing spike, which should grow into a stem. Which might swell into buds, which could unfold into flowers. Someday.

In the meantime, I’m baking rhubarb.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

4 cups chopped rhubarb (from about 6 large stalks)

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 cup flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (plus more for pan)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup milk

Toss: Toss together rhubarb, brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon zest.

Whisk: Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

Beat: Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and remaining 1/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Slide in egg, remaining 1 teaspoon lemon zest and the vanilla extract; beat fluffy again. Scoop in one-third of the flour mixture; mix on low speed just to combine. Pour in half the milk; mix to combine. Repeat, working in remaining doses of flour, milk.

Bake: Generously butter a 9-inch cake pan (not springform). Scrape in rhubarb and any juices. Scrape in cake batter; smooth top. Slide into a 350-degree oven and bake until golden and a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Set a serving plate over pan and flip cake, fruit-side up, onto the plate. Nice slightly warm.

Serves 8.

– Inspired by Bon Appetit