Posts Tagged: grace torresdal

Rhubarb Torte Recipe


It’s a baking kind of day here in the Driftless Region. I don’t know about you, but there are about six ripe bananas in my freezer that need to get used, and my rhubarb is on its very last stalks. Since we’re officially into summer now, let’s say goodbye to spring. Go ahead and pull that last rhubarb up, warm the kitchen (I’m seriously wearing a fleece right now), and make this yummy treat!

This has been my go-to rhubarb recipe since it was introduced to me in 2009. It’s called a torte, but it’s unlike any torte I’ve ever made before. My grandma has a similar recipe, but this one is from my good friend Kristin Torresdal’s grandma, Grace Torresdal . If you do it right, it creates a magical top crust all by itself! Try it out, and please let me know if you have any questions.

Rhubarb Torte by Grace Torresdal (transcribed by Kristin Torresdal)
*For a 9×9 pan

Preheat oven to 350

• Wash and cut rhubarb (recipe calls for 2 cups but Grandma says she usually uses close to 3)
• 1 c. cake flour (or improvise and use 1 c. minus 3 tbsp regular flour); and then add 3 tbsp corn starch…this approximates consistency of cake flour
• 5 tbsp powdered sugar
• 1/2 c. butter

MIX AND BAKE CRUST 15 mins @ 350 degrees (Ed. note: It seems pretty crumbly when you put it in the pan, but once you pat it down and bake it, it does indeed form a solid crust. Sometimes I bake it a few minutes longer because I like my crust to be nice and firm…)


(Ed. note: that “order given” part is really important. Mix each ingredient after you’ve added it – this seems to be the secret to the crust “magically” appearing in the oven.)

• 2 eggs
• 1 3/4 c. sugar
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1/4 c flour (regular, not cake) – Grandma says ‘I throw in an extra, heaping tsp because otherwise it can get runny…especially if we’ve had rain lately and the rhubarb is moist)
• 3/4 tsp baking powder
• Rhubarb (2-3 cups, as you prefer, cut up)

Spread the filling over the crust and bake @ 350 for 30-35 minutes – Grandma says it generally takes hers 35-40 minutes because she doesn’t like it too runny…and top gets crispier…in that case, I recommend letting it sit a bit so the rhubarb juices from below rise to the top…yum!
Serve with ice cream or cream (if you can possibly handle any more sweetness!)


 *9×13 INCH PAN RECIPE (follow steps above using the measurements below)

• 1 1/2 cake flour (it’s still adequate to take out 3 tbsp regular flour and replace with 3 tbsp corn starch)
• 7 1/2 tbsp powdered sugar
• 3/4 c butter
• 3 eggs
• 2 5/8 c sugar
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 3/8 c flour (heaping tsp extra)
• 1 1/8 tsp baking powder
• 3-4 c rhubarb, cut up

I know Kristin, her grandma, and of course the team at Inspire(d) hope you enjoy this recipe, and this lovely, cool day!


Probituary: Grace Torresdal

Originally published in the November 2007 issue of Inspire(d), we offer our condolences to the family and friends of Grace Torresdal. She passed away May 6, 2015.

Interviewed by granddaughter and long-time Inspire(d) friend Kristin Torresdal (pictured here with Grace). 

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
It’s better to earn your own way through life than to expect other people to support you.

How about the worst?
I can’t really think of any bad advice I’ve received.  I suppose it was when Lester (my husband) told me how great the farm was.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I was raised during the Depression years so I didn’t think about choosing a particular career; I was more concerned with finding any job where I could earn enough money to support myself.

What do/did you do?
I was a telephone operator in Watertown, SD (1947) and Tacoma, WA (1951); after that I was a stay-at-home mom and I worked on the farm (near Ossian, IA) with my husband, Lester.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
A cell phone, a bag containing hair supplies (my hair rollers, comb, and hairspray), and a fishing rod.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.
I tried to be the best helpmate that I could be to my husband and family in spite of not liking the farm life and I enjoy helping friends by doing babysitting and things like that.  I don’t know, it’s hard to describe yourself in just one sentence. What would you say about me?

Kristin: I would say that you are a very strong, intelligent, hard-working woman and that your faith, family, and a desire to help others are really important to you.  I know that this is cheating (because it’s more than one sentence) but I have to add that you are also a wonderful cook, that you have a great sense of humor, and that you are the best grandma a girl could ever have.

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Seafood: scallops, shrimp, and lobster. I really started to like seafood when we lived in Tacoma, WA.

Name one thing you could not live without.
I can’t think of anything I couldn’t live without because we never know from day to day what’s going to be taken from us.

Tell us about… your wedding:
I was married at Decorah Lutheran Church on Dec. 15, 1950 in a terrible snowstorm with well-below zero weather.  It was a wedding that truly focused on our Christian faith and how important it is to both of us.  My mother, brother, and sister were able to come, though they got stuck in the snow on their way to Iowa because the roads were drifted…but they made it to the ceremony in time. Shortly after the wedding, Lester and I left for Tacoma, WA.  We lived in Tacoma for 2 years and then moved to the farm (near Ossian, IA) and lived there for 37 years.