Sunday, 21 February 2010

Rhubarb and custard cake

When you walk along the street carrying rhubarb it gets a reaction like no other fruit or vegetable – most people look and smile (because, let’s be honest, a stick of rhubarb is a funny looking thing and it never fits in the bag you’re carrying it in leaving Triffid-like stalks and leaves sticking out!) while anyone even vaguely ‘foodie’ nods respectfully.

My rhubarb is forced as it’s too early in the year for garden rhubarb to make an appearance. The stalks are thin and a gorgeous flamingo pink colour. If there’s a more beautiful colour to be found in the world of food I can’t think what it is. For more rhubarb ideas click here

The rhubarb is roasted; here is it about to go into the oven (don’t worry that it looks too much – I made two cakes at the same time):

Here it is post-roasting and draining in a sieve. Note that it retains it’s beautiful colour:

Rhubarb and custard is a classic combination and this cake incorporates them both resulting in a sponge dotted with colours not dissimilar to that other great food partnership, bacon and eggs.

I wouldn’t advise using any fancy custard here, don’t browse the chiller cabinet in the supermarket – you actually want a thick yellow custard as it holds its shape better during baking. I used a ready made Ambrosia custard and that worked perfectly.

The obligatory serving suggestion:

If you are a British child of the 70s the theme tune to Roobarb and Custard will most likely have been playing through your head the whole time you’ve been reading this post. For those of you who are scratching your head in puzzlement this should explain:


For the rhubarb:
400g rhubarb, washed and cut into chunks
50g caster sugar

For the cake:
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g ready made custard (the thicker and more yellow, the better! I used Ambrosia)
250g self raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g golden caster sugar


- Start by making the rhubarb element: Preheat the oven to 200˚c/fan oven 180˚c/400˚F / gas mark 6.

- Wash and trim the rhubarb and dry on kitchen paper. Cut into largish chunks, approx 2-3cm long.

- Place in a shallow baking tray and sprinkle the caster sugar over it as evenly as possible. Toss together.

- Spread the rhubarb in a single layer if possible then cover with foil and roast for 15 minutes.

- Remove the foil and shake the tray a little. Roast for a further 5 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender and the juices are syrupy.

- Drain off the juices before you let the rhubarb cool – this stops the rhubarb getting too wet and making the cake soggy.

- Lower the oven temperature to 180˚c/fan oven 160˚c/350˚F / gas mark 4.

- Line a 2ocm round springform cake tin with baking paper.

- Put 3 tablespoons of custard to one side for later.

- Beat the butter, remaining custard, flour, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and golden caster sugar in a large bowl until smooth and creamy.

- Spoon a third of the batter into the prepared tin and level.

- Spoon a third of the rhubarb onto the batter and ensure it is evenly distributed.

- Spoon a further third of the batter onto the rhubarb and spread out as best you can. Be gentle and it will be ok.

- Spoon a further third of rhubarb and top with the remaining cake batter.

- Scatter the remaining rhubarb on top and then dot the 3 tablespoons of reserved custard on top as well.

- Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until risen and golden, then cover with foil and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Mine took nearer to 1 hour 30 minutes in total.

- Cool in the tin on a wire rack.

- If you wish you can sieve some icing sugar over the top before serving. Serve with some thick cream.

- Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.

- Eat


Anonymous said...

Oooh, this looks great! And...last night I was just thinking about using custard in cakes. Does it change the texture or flavour or anything?

Rosie of BooksAndBakes

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Rosie

I'd say it makes the sponge yellower in look and slightly stickier in texture. But it's still light and spongy...if that makes sense! This really was my fave bake for a long time

Beth (jamandcream) said...

I love rhubarb, hubby hates it (well he says he does but I don't think he's even tried it!) - I might try this one on him to see if he changes his mind

Choclette said...

I've never had forced rhubarb - it's so pretty and looks lovely in the cake. I have made cakes with rhubarb, but as I use the stuff I grow myself, it doesn't look that great.

trash said...

there was a pub just down the road from here that used to be painted like your cake - it was yellow on the outside with rhubarb red walls!

Unknown said...

I agree with you! A beautiful rhubard is the prettiest colour in the world! And yours is VERY pretty! And what a tasty cake too! Yum!

Maggie said...

I love pink forced rhubarb, but it is so expensive here. The rhubarb photogaph opposite your kitchenaid food mixer looks magnificent. Another beautiful cake.

Caroline said...

Custard makes everything better. And cake with rhubarb doesn't even need to be made better!!! Looks great!

shevie said...

another wonderfully kitsch & retro cake from you,Im just imagining a book,mmmmm! I almost like your food descriptions as much as Nigel Slaters-praise indeed!I always look forward to my Cake fix on a Sunday-been too busy to bake,but I will make time for this one-would a dollop of clotted cream on top be too greedy!

Cakelaw said...

What a beautiful cake! And I agree, there is no colour prettier than rhubarb pink.

Ling's Passion said...

Interesting looking cake :-).

Sam said...

Rhubarb and custard is a fantastic combination,I really like the idea of turning it into a cake.

It looks fantastic!

Soo said...

Wow --- that is exactly my kind of cake! Roasting the rhubarb sounds like it would really bring out the flavour.

At times like this I forget why I left that job....

Katie said...

Oh yum this sounds divinve. I love how you described the rhubarb as a flamingo pink colour - that sums it up perfectly!

pigpigscorner said...

I love the texture, looks super moist! and I like the pink rhubarb bits.

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

I love, love, love rhubarb! And yes the theme tune was running through my head. What a great looking cake CC.

glamah16 said...

I have started to see rhubarb in the stores.

Anonymous said...

I so have to try this for my guys B'day cake... Don't know if I can get ready made custard where I am, so will have a go at making that too.
Our fav stewed rhubarb recipe includes lemon juice and some zest, we've also tried it with lime and it tastes just great. Add in some strawberries... *drool* So, I'm thinking of incorporating those flavours into the cake too. Will let you know how it goes.

Georgina Shea said...

I finally got to make this at the weekend as rhubarb is back in season and I love the stuff. What a fab cake although next time I make it I'll add more rhubarb (as I said I love the stuff!). I did notice my rhubarb didn't retain it's pink colour (I'm hoping the next batch will be better) - perhaps I overcooked it? Also the rhubarb and custard that I put on the top of the cake sank as the cake rose. It all ended up on the bottom 3rd (including the 2nd layer). Do you think it's because I didn't drain the rhubarb enough before adding to the tin? Don't get me wrong it tasted wonderful - but the top half of the cake was missing those wonderful bits of rhubarb and custard! Oh before I go wanted to also say it's a wonderful moist cake :-) Thanks, Georgina

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Georgina

If you used forced rhubarb then I can only think that maybe you overcooked it - I've never had forced lose its colour. If you used garden rhubarb then I always find it loses its colour!

I think it sounds as if you didn't dry the rhubarb enough and that's why it sunk (and took the custard with it). Of course, we all have these things happen - the trick is to turn the cake 180 and claim it's a rhubarb upside down cake!

Georgina Shea said...

Thanks for your comments. I do have a tendency to overcook rhubarb so next time shall keep an eye on it for sure. Look forward to trying out your other creations, they all look so yummy! Georginax

Anonymous said...

Hi have just made this, i cut down the sugar to 180g and added slightly more custard, to add up for taking out the 3TBS to put on top, i only put custard on top as had no fruit left, this worked well, it rose really well and was very nice and plenty sweet!!! i added an apple diced as had about 310g rhubarb would add more rhubarb next time Nikki ps nice with cream

Chieflonglegs said...

This cake was amazing. Instead of discarding the rhubarb syrup I thickened it up with a little cornflour, added some red food colouring and served it with the cake and cream .....YUMMEE