Tag Archives: rhubarb

Rhubarb and custard cake…

Rhubarb season has been very fruitful for me this year (apologies for such early pun usage). I’m lucky enough to know a lot of people who have been growing their own and I even discovered a little crop of my very own in the garden! I often make a delicious sticky rhubarb and ginger cake, which is a complete winner but I stumbled across this recipe on the BBC Good Food website for a rhubarb and custard cake and couldn’t resist having a go, with a couple of Afternoon Tease twists. Now is no time for modesty, I am happy to report that it turned out to be the most delicious cake, and fickle as I am, has overtaken all others as my current favourite! Behold my rhubarb and custard cake made with locally grown rhubarb and homemade custard…

Rhubarb and custard cake

Now, I can tell, you’re going to scroll down, see the length of the recipe and decide it’s far too much hard work, panic not! There are basically 3 main sections to prepare…rhubarb, custard and cake but they are all pretty simple and I guarantee you, it’s totally worth it. Although this may not be the quickest bake, it’s a great cake for a lazy afternoon’s baking! So without further ado…

For the rhubarb you need…

400g rhubarb

50g caster sugar

For the custard you need…

1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract

275ml double cream

3 egg yolks

1 tsp cornflour

25g caster sugar

For the cake you need…

250g butter, softened,

150g custard (either use my recipe for homemade custard or if you’d rather, you can use a shop bought variety such as Ambrosia)

250g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

250g caster sugar

icing sugar , for dusting

So, to start, you need to prepare the rhubarb element of the cake by heating the oven to 180 degrees (fan). Rinse the rhubarb and cut it into finger sized pieces. Lay them in a shallow oven proof dish. It needs to be big enough for the rhubarb to lie out in one single layer or you will have an issue with some pieces cooking faster than others (mine was a little small in hindsight, I learnt the hard way). Sprinkle over the 50g caster sugar and shake the dish until all of the rhubarb is coated…

Rhubarb ready for roasting

Cover with foil and pop in the oven to roast. After 15 minutes remove the dish from the oven, have a peek and a little shake and pop it back in for another 5 minutes. You’re aiming for the rhubarb to be tender (but not a mushy pulp) and the juices to be syrupy. If it’s not quite there yet, just put it back in the oven and check every 5 minutes until you’re happy that the rhubarb is cooked. Then set it aside to cool.

For the custard…

You can use shop bought custard (Ambrosia for example) but I swear by Delia’s custard, which Miss Igs and I christened ‘crack custard’ due to its addictive qualities, after making it for one of our Plate Lickers Supper Clubs 🙂

Photograph by @photolotte for Cambridge Edition

Photograph by @photolotte for Cambridge Edition

If you are splashing out and using a vanilla pod, start by splitting it lengthways down the middle and scraping out the seeds. Then place the pod and the seeds (or vanilla extract) in a small saucepan, with the cream. Heat gently until it’s just below simmering point.

Whilst the cream is heating, you can whisk the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar together in a bowl.

Once your cream is ready, remove the vanilla pod (if using) and gradually add the cream to your egg yolk mixture in a steady stream, whisking constantly. When all of the cream has been added and it’s well mixed, pour the whole lot back into the saucepan and return to the hob over a gentle heat. You need to stir it constantly to make sure none of it gets stuck to the bottom of the pan. You can use a rubber spatula or a whisk at this stage. It will start to thicken gradually, if it begins to look a little lumpy, don’t panic! just get whisking and it will soon become thick and smooth. Delia also advises…

‘If you do overheat it and it looks grainy, don’t worry, just transfer it to a jug or bowl and continue to whisk until it becomes smooth again.’

When you’re happy with the consistency of your custard (it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without running straight off), pour it into a bowl and cover the surface with clingfilm so that it doesn’t form a skin. Now try not to eat too much of it before leaving it to cool for later!

The good news is that this recipes makes nearly double the quantity of custard you need for the cake! So once you’ve measured out 150g of your custard…you can do whatever you wish with the leftovers! I recommend grabbing a spoon and eating it straight from the bowl 🙂

Once the rhubarb and custard have cooled, you are ready for the cake making. This may all feel a bit long winded but bear with it…I promise that it’s worth every single second of prep!

So, for the cake…

Grease and line a 20cm (or 23cm) loose-bottomed or springform cake tin and heat the oven to 160 degrees (fan).

Save 3 tbsp of the 150g custard in a separate bowl for later. Put the rest of the custard in a large bowl with the butter, flour, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and sugar and beat until creamy and smooth.

Now for the assembly. Spoon 1/3 of the cake mix into the tin, add 1/3 of the rhubarb, then dot with another 1/3 of the cake mix and spread it out as well as you can. Top with another 1/3 of the rhubarb, then spoon over the remaining cake mix, don’t worry about being too neat about it. Scatter the rest of the rhubarb over the batter, then drip the reserved custard on top…

Rhubarb and custard cake ready for the oven

The original recipe said to bake it for 40 mins until risen and golden, then to cover the tin with foil and bake it for 15-20 mins more. Mine took quite a bit longer than this and after testing it by inserting a skewer into the middle (when it’s ready the skewer will come out clean) I actually cooked it for a further 30 minutes (so 1hour 30mins in total). After the intial hour of cooking, you need to use your judgement…just remember, if the skewer doesn’t come out clean, it isn’t ready, so just pop it back in for  5 minutes or so at a time and then check again. Bear in mind that the cooking time also varies depending on the size of the tin you use…a 20cm tin will need slightly longer than a 23cm tin. However, you can be safe in the knowledge that when it is ready it’s going to look and smell fantastic…


Leave the cake to cool in the tin and when completely cool, sprinkle liberally with icing sugar and serve…

Rhubarb and custard cake


If you can resist polishing it off straight away, this cake keeps well for a couple of days and would be delicious served with leftover custard (if you have any).

Rhubarb and custard cake

A slice of rhubarb and custard cake


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A round up of Sweeteasy #2…

Last Friday I hosted my 2nd Sweeteasy at Hot Numbers. Once the doors of the cafe closed for the day I got busy transforming it into a prohibition era style drinking den, where I would be serving a set menu of cake inspired cocktails and cocktail inspired cakes and sweets. At dusk my guests started arriving accompanied by the sound of tinkling ivories courtesy of the very talented Adam, co-host of The First Rule Supper Club

Tinkling the ivories

Sweeteasy 4

Some guests had really got into the 1920’s spirit and  were looking gorgeously glam…

Sweeteasy 5

20's glam

glamorous ladies

My glamorous assistant

I’m so bad at keeping exciting things to myself but I had somehow managed to keep the menu totally secret and really enjoyed watching and listening to my guests reactions to its unveiling…

Sweeteasy Menu

First up was Turkish delight martinis in teacups made with gin, a splash of brandy and homemade rose syrup and served with a square of homemade Turkish delight…

Turkish delight martini

Followed closely by eggnog custard tarts…puff pastry with brandy custard and nutmeg…

Eggnog custard tarts

The next drink was definitely my favourite and something I’d been dreaming up for a while…behold my rhubarb crumble martini…

Rhubarb crumble martini

Rhubarb crumble martini

The seed of the idea for the rhubarb crumble martini was planted by Aoife Maxwell who is the font of all knowledge on booze and who along with her friend Rachel writes the Gastronomic Girls blog. I’d seen her blog about making rhubarb vodka and she very kindly presented me with a sample secreted in a brown paper bag at my first Sweeteasy event :). It was absolutely divine so I decided to make my own, which was surprisingly easy and very rewarding. You can find Aoife’s rhubarb vodka recipe here.

I loved the process and was amazed to watch all of the colour gradually drain out of the rhubarb and transfer itself to the vodka…magic!


I knew very early on that what I wanted to do with my rhubarb vodka was to create a rhubarb crumble in liquid form and after much taste testing (it’s a hardship I know) decided on the following recipe…

3 parts homemade rhubarb vodka

1 part amaretto (I used Disaronno)

Simply shake with ice before straining into a glass.

However, what is a crumble without the yummy topping? hence the addition of the piece de resistance…the crumble topping rim! I made a basic crumble topping by blitzing 50g butter with 100g flour in the food processor (this can also be done by rubbing the butter into the flour by hand) before stirring in 50g sugar. I baked it on a tray at 180 degrees until golden brown and left it to cool. To make it stick to the rim of the glass I used a simple sugar syrup, which is sooo easy to make. Simply dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 1/2 cup water over a low heat and leave to cool.

Finally to assemble the rhubarb crumble martini, I poured some sugar syrup onto a shallow dish and tipped some of the crumble topping onto a similar receptacle. Then dipped the rim of the glass in the syrup, allowing any excess to drip off before dipping in in the crumble topping…tadaaa…

Crumble topping rim

Then it was time to pour in the rhubarb vodka and amaretto concoction…

Rhubarb crumble martini

I was so chuffed with the creation of my dream drink…rhubarb crumble in a glass!

It was closely followed by my White Russian 3 milk cake, based on a traditional Mexican Tres Leches cake but with added Kahlua…

White Russian 3 milks cake

White Russian 3 milk cake

The 3rd and final cocktail was a chocolate and spiced rum old fashioned made using 70% dark chocolate liqueur, Sailor Jerrys spiced rum, angostura bitters and a dash of sugar syrup, stirred with a couple of cubes of ice, potent but divine…

Old fashioned

When I was taste testing this beauty I felt that it really needed to be paired with something chocolatey, hence the rum and raisin slice made using rum soaked raisins and 70% dark chocolate and I couldn’t resist throwing in a retro classic, my pina colada coconut ice made using homemade pineapple jam…

Coconut ice and rum and raisin slice

And that, ladies and gentlemen is, as they say, a wrap! The evening sadly had to come to an end but it turns out my guests are people of great taste as I ended up bumping into most of them afterwards in 196 on Mill Road, a very fine local cocktail establishment!

Another thoroughly enjoyable evening, thankyou to all who came, to Adam for being an amazing piano man and to Sarah and Val for letting me use  use some of their photos for this blog and to  Tom and Carri for being my glamorous assistants for the night!

Sweeteasy 2

I’m already plotting the next Sweeteasy, the date is in the diary but in true Afternoon Tease fashion, I’m going to keep you waiting a bit longer before I divulge the details! 🙂 But if you’d like to sign up to my new mailing list you’ll be amongst the first to be in the know.

Sweeteasy 17You can read more about Sweeteasy from the guests perspective in these lovely blogs from Miss Sue Flay of The Secluded Tea Party and from Heidi on The Moving Foodie Blog.

Sweeteasy 8

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Rhubarb & apple crumble with walnut topping…

On Friday afternoon I saw this tweet for help from FoodCycle Cambridge

We’ve 2 slots free on our cooking rota for tomorrow, no experience needed, 9.30am-12.30 at the Centre@StPauls. Get in touch if interested!

and bearing in mind what a great time I’d had last time (blogged here) I jumped at the chance to help out! After team introductions we were shown the booty of surplus food that had been collected and the menu was revealed…

Last time I had been too scared to volunteer to be on dessert duty because, although I love baking, I was nervous about scaling it up to the size needed to feed 30 odd hungry people! However, this time I decided to face my fears head on! We were in real luck with the donation of (surplus/waste) food, we had a huge pile of rhubarb…

some cooking apples and some oat and raisin cereal bars so decided to, with the aid of a few staple ingredients like butter and flour, make 2 giant trays of rhubarb and apple crumble based on this recipe on the Good Food website.

We sliced the rhubarb into approximate 4cm sections and cooked it in a saucepan on the hob with some sugar for about 15 minutes…

By which time it was really juicy…

We sliced the cooking apples and mixed them in. We didn’t pre-cook them in the hope that once the crumble had been baked in the oven they would still retain a bit of bite instead of turning to mush.

To make the topping we rubbed the butter into plain flour until our hands ached but it had the texture of breadcrumbs! Then we added the sugar (dark brown and granulated), some ground almonds, chopped walnuts for added crunch and the broken up donated cereal bars…

We poured this over the trays of fruits and popped them into the oven to bake…

The kitchen was a hive of activity as the team created the rest of the meal…

We used the rest of our time to get on with our side dessert of raspberry and orange fruit salad, which was made purely from donated food…

It was simply the segmented sections and juice from 5 oranges, a few punnets of ripe raspberries and some chopped fresh mint. The result was deliciously refreshing and the perfect, juicy accompaniment to the crumble. 

The frittata looked and smelled amazing especially once it was topped with gorgeous, bubbling melted cheese…

and was served up with new potatoes, roasted red peppers and tomatoes and green beans sautéed with garlic…

I watched the crumbles like a hawk but despite the slight unpredictability of the ovens, they turned out beautifully golden brown and bubbling around the edges…

They were slightly top heavy, which suited me perfectly as a complete crumble topping fiend 🙂

But without further ado, here’s the finished article, my rhubarb and apple crumble with walnut topping served with raspberry, orange and mint salad…

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Last week I saw ‘Eat Like a Girl’s’ recipe for blood orange and rhubarb curd in the Evening Standard and stored its existence in my memory banks until the weekend, when I happened upon blood oranges for sale on the market. I rushed home and started preparing only to discover that I’d been duped and sold a dud blood orange (read ordinary orange). I decided to just plough on anyway and although my finished curd was fairly insipid in colour, I am happy to report that it tasted divine…less tart than lemon curd (obviously) but with a great rhubarb tang. I passed up the meringue pie in favour of slathering it on thick slices of toast! perfect!

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10/01/2012 · 10:00 am

What a load of old rhubarb (bakewell tart)…

I’m still taking advantage of rhubarb being readily available on the supermarket shelves at the moment and on a recent rummage through my baking cupboard I discovered no less than 8 half used packets of ground almonds, luckily all still within their best before dates! I asked my good friend google what I could make with ‘rhubarb’ and ‘ground almonds’ and was presented with multiple rhubarb crumble recipes, but in amongst them I found a lovely blog called Girl Interrupted Eating and a gorgeous sounding recipe for Rhubarb and Almond Tart. Decision made, I turned my music up loud, poured a glass of red wine, donned my apron and started baking my own rhubarb bakewell tart…

To make the shortcrust pastry base…

300g plain flour

150g  butter, chilled and cut into cubes

3 tbsp caster sugar

3tbsp of water

Sift the flour into a bowl, add the butter cubes and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
Add the water and mix to form a dough. I find it’s easiest to get you hands in there and bring the dough together into a ball. Then wrap it in cling film and chill for 20 minutes in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Prepare a 30cm tart dish by greasing it with butter and dusting lghtly with flour (that’s what my mum always does).

For the filling…

500g rhubarb cut into 1cm lengths

150g butter

150g caster sugar

150g ground almonds

100g self raising flour

2 eggs

1 vanilla pod

Zest of one orange

2 tbsp flaked almonds

Roll out the chilled pastry and line the tart tin. Lie a sheet of greaseproof paper on top and pour in some baking beads (rice works just as well). Put the pastry case in the oven to bake blind for 25 minutes.

Put half of the rhubarb in a saucepan, cover and cook for 5 minutes. I also added a squeeze of the orange juice into the mix.

Meanwhile you can make the almondy filling…
Becky’s recipe said to use a food processor to blend together the butter and sugar but I don’t have one so I used my handheld mixer to cream them together until light and fluffy. Add the ground almonds, flour, eggs , seeds scraped from the vanilla pod and the orange zest and mix well.

Turn the oven down to 175 degrees.

Remove the baking beads and paper from the pastry case and leave somewhere to cool. Mix the cooked rhubarb with the raw rhubarb and spread over the bottom of the pastry lined tin. Spoon the almond mixture on top and spread it out as evenly as possible, although I found this easier said than done and got in a pickle!

Put the tart in the oven for 40 minutes until golden on top. After about 30 minutes scatter the top of the tart with the flaked almonds so that they toast slightly.

And there you have it…

Bakewell tart with a rhubarbey twist! The flecks of vanilla and orange zest in the moist almond layer were a delight. The balance of the sweet almondy cakey layer with the tang of the unsweetened rhubarb was perfection.

I packed up my the tart and transported it all the way to Winchester for a friends birthday, only to find out that he didn’t even like rhubarb! We did a pretty good job of polishing it off for him though, even enjoying a slice the morning after the night before…rhubarb bakewell tart…breakfast of champions!

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Sticky rhubarb & ginger cake…Mum this one’s for you!

Last weekend my Mum presented me with a new recipe book, ‘Jamie’s Monster Bake Sale’ a collection of recipes put together by Jamie Oliver for Red Nose Day, to raise money for Comic Relief and the Jamie Oliver Foundation, not only through it’s sale but by encouraging people to try the yummy recipes and raise money by holding….you got it…a Monster Bake Sale!

All of the 13 recipes sound amazing and the 2 I’ve tried so far have been super tasty. As she handed it over, my Mum raved about the delicious looking sticky rhubarb and ginger cake at the back of the book. So my choice of Mother’s Day present was pretty much a no brainer!

Here it is…sticky rhubarb and ginger cake for my Mum…

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a 20cm round cake tin with greaseproof paper.

To make the rhubarb topping…

250g rhubarb

100g caster sugar

2 tbsp stem ginger syrup

Slice the rhubarb into 4cm lengths and put them in a pan with the caster sugar and 2 tbsp of syrup from the jar of stem ginger. Bring to the boil, and then turn down and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes until the rhubarb is cooked but hasn’t turned to slush.

For the cake…

200g butter

150g dark brown sugar

2 tbsp golden syrup

150ml milk

2 eggs

300g self raising flour

2 tsp ground ginger

3-4 balls stem ginger, finely chopped and 2 more tbsp of the syrup

Heat the butter in a pan with the dark brown sugar and golden syrup, once melted set aside to cool.

Whisk the eggs with the milk and mix them together with the cooled butter mixture and finally the remaining ingredients (flour, ground and chopped ginger). Stir well before pouring into the prepared cake tin.

Carefully arrange the strips of rhubarb on top of the cake mix but save the magic rhubarb syrup for later. Bake the cake for 1 hour 20 minutes until it’s risen and beautifully golden. After an hour you can sneak a peek and if it looks like the top of the cake is browning a bit too much, loosely cover it with some tin foil for the last few minutes of cooking. When you think it’s ready, insert a skewer into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean…it’s ready!

Here comes the best bit…spoon the sticky rhubarb syrup over the hot cake. This produces a very pleasing sizzle and a sweet, spicy, fruity aroma to die for!

Fresh out of the oven…

Try to exercise some self restraint and leave it to cool in the tin, giving the syrup time to work its way into the cake, before serving…

It turns out that the women in my family are very well tuned into each other…I discovered that we came dangerously close to having 2 sticky rhubarb and ginger cakes to gorge on…it was so delicious, it wouldn’t have been much of a hardship to be honest with you! It had a great dense but moist texture with little juicy nuggets of stem ginger throughout and the slightly tart rhubarb to cut through it, taking away any sickly sweetness!

Why not serve with crème fraiche, cream, custard, ice cream or just simply on its own…in my book, anything goes and the possibilities are endless!


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Rhubarb & Cardamom Muffins

Recently, during my daily igoogle check up, a recipe caught my eye and lured me to a blog called Kitchen Culinaire. It was for rhubarb cardamom breakfast muffins, which looked absolutely amazing. I printed it off and stashed it away for future use!

I love a bit of rhubarb and try to make at least one crumble during the rhubarb season. This year it’s seemed that rhubarb has been more popular than ever…I was even introduced to rhubarb bellini’s at a friends party recently. She had stewed the rhubarb with some sugar, passed it through a sieve, poured some into a glass and topped it up with champagne…simple yet divine!

I have been carrying the rhubarb muffin recipe around in my handbag for a couple of weeks now with the intention that next time I was in the supermarket I would buy the ingredients but I somehow kept getting waylaid. I was re-inspired by the fresh rhubarb on sale at Kinvara Farmers Market, on my recent trip to Ireland  but after prevaricating a bit too much, I returned to the stall only to find that it had all sold out! I didn’t let this put me off and yesterday I unearthed the somewhat crumpled recipe from the depths of my bag and got around to baking the little beauties!

Kitchen Culinaire is written by a Canadian lady and therefore all of the measurements are in cups, which is still a pretty alien concept to me but I managed to work it out with the help of Delia and her online conversion tables.

I also risked making a few substitutions, which actually worked really well. So here’s my version of the recipe…

Rhubarb & Cardamom Muffins

150g plain flour

150g wholemeal flour (I used self raising flour because that’s all I had in the cupboard and just halved the quantity of baking powder)

160g granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 fine sea salt

240ml creme fraiche (the original recipe used plain yoghurt)

8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled (I have never measured butter by tablespoon before so I just did my best to approximate 8 tablespoons worth)

2 large eggs

175g rhubarb cut into 1/4 inch dice (This worked out to be approx 2 stalks)

For the topping – 

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

My first hurdle came when my local supermarket didn’t stock ground cardamom. I was determined not to be put off and decided to grind my own…I slit open 25 cardamom pods, scraped out the seeds and ground them to a powder using good old fashioned elbow grease in a pestle and mortar. This made the perfect amount for this recipe (you need 1 tsp in total).

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, make sure the oven rack is in the middle of the oven and line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases.

Mix the flours, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.

Whisk the crème fraiche, melted butter and eggs in another bowl until smooth.

Lightly stir the liquids into the dry ingredients until just combined. Don’t over mix it or apparently the muffins will turn out very tough.

Stir in the diced rhubarb.

In a small bowl mix together the topping ingredients.

Divide the muffin mixture between the 12 cases (I actually made 13) and sprinkle over the sugar and cardamom topping. 

Bake for approx 20 minutes until they’re golden brown and a skewer/sharp knife comes out clean if plunged into the centre of one.

Allow to cool slightly and then tuck in!

They turned out to be incredibly moist and the fresh tartness of the rhubarb was balanced beautifully by the sweet, spicy topping. My rhubarb repertoire is looking pretty healthy.

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