One of the few cheering sights during this sudden cold snap of weather has been the appearance of the wonderfully pink forced rhubarb. Seriously, is there a better colour anywhere in the world of fruit and veg than this:
My local market sells better quality rhubarb than any supermarket – I do think rhubarb is a product that supermarkets can never compete on; maybe it sits around for too long in their warehouses?
Anyway, I digress! I wanted to make a very simple cake that complimented the rhubarb but in no way competed with it – this cake is it. The sponge is soft with a small, close crumb as it uses icing rather than caster sugar; I think this photo shows the texture well:
It has a hint of vanilla and the rhubarb bakes into the batter and the juices sink into the sponge. The crumb topping adds some texture and a further pop of sweetness to balance the sharp, tart rhubarb. A brief note re the crumb – when you make it, it won’t look like a crumble topping; it’s more like a biscuit dough and can only be crumbled after chilling. This is what it looks like:
As I stand in my kitchen baking on a Saturday afternoon I realise that I am now officially old. Why? Because there’s a forecast of heavy snow overnight and I’m praying the forecast is wrong. I don’t want it to snow [Sunday update: too bad what I wanted – it DID snow. Lots.] I have never felt like that before...suppose all I can do now is plug in my heated slipper boot, boil up some fish for tea, dye my hair a silvery lilac colour and play some bingo.......
Sunday update: Because of the snow, no one is travelling – and rightly so, I hastily add. However, I baked two of these rather large cakes and am now wondering what to do with them! I’ve already decided that I can heat slices and serve with custard as a pud, and I reckon the rest should freeze well.
It is always the joke in my family that I am cake obsessed and see cake in things where no cake should be seen. I would therefore like to point out that it was the CCD (Caked Crusader’s Da) and not me who thought these looked like little iced cakes:
For the crumb topping:
90g unsalted butter, melted
100g brown sugar – I used half light, half dark
125g plain flour
For the cake:
250g rhubarb, cut into 1.5cm chunks
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
185g self raising flour
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
185g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To serve: thick cream (I used clotted cream)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Line a 20cm square tin with baking paper.
Start by making the crumb topping: mix together the melted butter and sugar then, using a fork, press in the flour until you have a firm, almost biscuit dough type mixture. I know it doesn’t look very crumbly at this point but keep faith!
Place in the fridge until needed.
Now make the cake: Mix together the rhubarb, brown sugar and 30g of the flour. Put to one side.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. It will look like whipped butter as the icing sugar seems to almost dissolve.
Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Stir in the vanilla.
Fold in the remaining 155g of flour.
Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and level the surface – take care to ensure the batter goes right into the corners.
Add the rhubarb on top of the batter. If any flour has pooled at the bottom of the dish you kept the rhubarb in, don’t use it – you only want the flour that has stuck to the rhubarb.
Take the crumb mix from the fridge and crumble it over the rhubarb.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out virtually clean (you may find it has rhubarb juices or crumb topping on it).
Leave the cake to cool, on a wire rack, but still in its tin.
Cut into generous squares and serve with thick cream.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.