Thursday, August 16, 2012

Antique versus Vintage


If you follow my bi-weekly submissions at South Dakota Magazine, you may have read last month that I had an opportunity to volunteer with the Rapid City taping of the Antiques Roadshow. I got to work behind the scenes of one of my husband's favorite televisions programs, and it was AWESOME. INCREDIBLE. FANTASTIC. Truly. (Just check out the Flickr photos!)

Before that weekend, I was concerned that I didn't have an item that was suitable for appraising. I debated Antique versus Vintage while sharing a Strawberry Rhubarb Cake on the South Dakota Magazine website. Ultimately, I decided not to invade my hoard of vintage junk and just present myself as a ready, willing, and able volunteer.

The night before filming, volunteers gathered to be assigned duties and trained for the specifics of those tasks. (Of course, to ensure our devotion, the brilliant PBS crew made us each feel as if our job was the most important one of the day. haha) My function as a "truss guard" was to protect the camera and filming areas from stray guests. Our minds often search out the shortest path to where we want to be, but that isn't always a path that works for the filming of a television program. I gently nudged a few wanderers back into a suitable direction and gawked mercilessly at the pieces that floated by with anxious visitors. 

Super enthusiastic and interesting people made the day fly by. Over 300 volunteers from all over the state worked side by side at the Rapid City Civic Center with the PBS staff to create an amazing experience not just for the guests, but for all of us. A contagious spirit of joyful expectation filled the air. Everyone truly enjoyed being there, checking out the treasures, and helping to make the day a success. (I need to give out shout-out to Gary Ellenbolt of SDPB, who made my volunteering possible; the ladies from Harding County that took my lonesome soul under their wing; Paul, the best supervisor ever; and Ron, the ever attentive Stage Manager. Thanks for a great and memorable day!)

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. The staff was fabulous. The guests were marvelous. The items that came in for appraisal were fascinating. It really was an unforgettable day of hobnobbing with PBS and excited area collectors.

Would I change anything? Possibly. I might work harder to find one of my personal treasures for appraisal. Visiting with several of the appraisers while they prepped for filming was one of my top experiences of the day. Having a little one-on-one time with them over an object of my affection might have just put me over the moon.

And so, in that vein of thought, I will share another rhubarb cake. This one takes a little more work than the previous cake mix and jello version, but really not much. The cake is dense and rich, and the rhubarb is, of course, tart and refreshing. The one part of this recipe that puzzles me slightly is the crunchy crumb. While the cake is baking, a crumble on top of the batter crisps as it would for a crumb cake. However, after the cake is done and flipped to be a true upside-down cake, those buttery chunks are on the bottom and the top is covered in the fruity rhubarb. I have never had a cake like this before. I honestly loved the blend of textures and flavors, but perhaps you should make it and offer your appraisal.

Sour Cream Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
(adapted from Martha Stewart)

 Topping:
4 tablespoons butter (unsalted), melted
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Cake:
12 tablespoons butter (unsalted), room temperature, divided
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and sliced about 1/2-inch thick
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon orange extract
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F.
For the topping, stir together butter, flour, sugar, and salt until moist and crumbly.
For the cake, butter a 9-inch round springform pan (2 inches deep) and wrap the bottom in foil. (This helps to prevent butter from leaking out during baking and burning in the bottom of the oven.)
Dot the bottom of the pan with 4 tablespoons butter that has been cut into pieces.
Toss rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in another small bowl.
Beat remaining 8 tablespoons of butter with 1 cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy.
Add the extract.
Beat in the eggs and sour cream.
Add the flour mixture, beating until smooth.
Again, toss the rhubarb and sugar mixture, and then spread in the pan over the butter pats.
Spread the cake batter evenly over the rhubarb.
Crumble the topping evenly over the batter.
Place pan on rimmed baking sheet and bake 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top springs back when touched.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. (The rhubarb will be scorching hot when directly out of the oven, but if allowed to cool too long, may stick.)
Run a knife around edge of cake and invert onto plate.
Let cool completely. (Serves 10)

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