The pretty, pink rhubarb plant is commonly used in pies and crumbles but works in other kinds of baked sweets too. When put together in a certain way, it can make a dessert look incredibly elegant. In this take on upside-down cake, the rhubarb is arranged in a chevron pattern in the bottom of a baking pan, covered with a quick bread batter and baked until wonderfully caramelized. Invert it onto a platter to show off the colorful design.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-by-9-inch square metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Heat 4 tablespoons of the butter and 3/4 cup of the brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the butter is melted. Pour into the prepared pan.
Cut the rhubarb in half horizontally (like splitting a bagel in half) end to end, with the flat side down. Keep the top and bottom stacked and cut the stalks on the bias about 2 inches long (you should have about 45 stacks or 90 pieces). Arrange the individual pieces in a chevron pattern in the pan, first putting the tops in a row at a 45-degree angle and then the matching bottoms in the opposite direction in the next row (the pairs should form a neat "V"). Gently press the pieces into the brown sugar mixture to glue them down; set the pan aside.
Mix the flour, granulated sugar, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar in a medium bowl. Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan, then pour into a large bowl. Add the eggs, buttermilk, sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest and whisk to combine. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture until well combined. Pour on top of the rhubarb in the pan and spread gently with an offset spatula to make even. Lightly tap the pan on the counter three times to remove any air pockets.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and the bread is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes (the rhubarb is too hot to invert the pan right away). Invert the bread onto a serving platter. Let cool completely before servings, about 1 hour.
When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)
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