Rhubarb was a little late coming into season this year and has ended up fighting it out with the raspberry and strawberry market which is why you end up getting two for one offers in the supermarkets with a surplus of rhubarb available. I actually had a different plan for some rhubarb that I picked up last weekend and I’ll be making that recipe on Friday evening, but with a double quantity sat in the fridge, I thought a mid-week cake might be a good way to use up a batch.
Rhubarb is such a vibrant vegetable, yes; you read that right, a vegetable not a fruit (like I thought!) It lends itself to making such beautifully delicious and comforting desserts because its sharpness works so well with the creamy flavours you can accompany it with.
My mum makes a fabulous rhubarb crumble (as well as a scrumptious rhubarb ice cream) and what with making granola last weekend, I actually thought about using my granola as a lovely crumble oat topping but decided that I’d probably end up overloading when I have granola for breakfast anyway (as much as I love it).
I then thought about stewing some rhubarb with some ginger to make a really comforting pudding, but, as it’s been a bit warmer this week, I wasn’t sure I entirely felt like it.
So instead, I thought after sounding so selfish about my granola, I ought to bake something that I could share with Will, my work and no doubt the AIS office (where Will works). Brownie points all round!
Rhubarb and custard are such a classic pairing that you could just stew the rhubarb and add custard and keep it as simple as that, but in this instance, adding them to a cake batter sounded a little bit more inviting.
I’ve had a few rhubarb and custard cakes in my time, but never had a go at making one myself, so I found a recipe that seemed to have a lot of positive reviews on the BBC Good Food website and set to work.
It’s a slightly thicker batter than you might normally find with a cake, where you end up spooning the batter in to the tin rather than pouring, but don’t panic, this is just how it’s meant to be.
The result was a fabulously moist cake that was light yet sharp with rhubarb but sweetened via the addition of custard through the sponge. I ate the first slice with some left over custard and the second slice (that same evening) with crème fraiche.
The rhubarb is a lovely bright pink against the crisp cream sponge and you can see some dotted through the sponge, with a layer towards the bottom (where the rhubarb has sunk a bit on baking).
Considering I brought in a massive wedge to our office, which my boss devoured by himself (!), clearly as selfish as me, I think I can conclude this might be a new favourite to rival the banana loaf at work.
And the AIS team seemed to enjoy it too, if their tweet is anything to go by.
Luckily I kept a slice at home to enjoy for dessert tonight, couldn’t give away all of it now could I.
Rhubarb and custard cake
For the roasted rhubarb:
400g rinsed rhubarb
50g Caster sugar
For the cake batter:
250g softened unsalted butter
150g pot ready-made custard (not the chilled variety) or make your own
250g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g golden caster sugar
Icing sugar, for dusting
Heat oven to 180°C
Rinse 400g rhubarb and shake off any excess water. Trim the ends, then cut the rhubarb in to little-finger-size pieces.
Place the rhubarb in a shallow dish or baking tray, sprinkle over 50g of caster sugar, making sure all the rhubarb is evenly covered and then shuffle the rhubarb into a single layer so that it cooks evenly.
Cover the rhubarb with foil and roast for 15 minutes. Give the tray a little shake and roast for 5 minutes more or until the rhubarb is tender and the juices are syrupy.
Drain off the juices and then leave to cool.
Butter and line a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin.
Reserve 3 tbsp of custard in a bowl.
Beat the remaining custard with the butter, flour, baking powder, eggs, vanilla extract and sugar until creamy and smooth.
Spoon 1/3 of the cake mix into the tin and then add some of the rhubarb, dotting it on evenly.
Add another 1/3 of the cake mix and spread it out as evenly as you can followed by some more of the rhubarb.
Spoon over the remaining cake mix, scatter the remaining rhubarb and do the remaining custard over the mix. Don’t worry about it being overly even on the top.
Bake for 40 minutes until golden and risen, then cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes more.
It’s ready when a skewer comes out clean.
Cool in the tin then dredge with icing sugar when totally cool.
Serve with more custard, crème fraiche or ice cream. All work perfectly.