It doesn’t matter how neglected it is (and it is very neglected), my rhubarb crown never fails to deliver. I have been handing it out to family and friends, and making cake – a rhubarb cake is a wonderful, simple thing.
My rhubarb is super tart which I love, but I appreciate that isn’t to everyone’s taste. So I looked around my kitchen for something to soothe and compliment it. A few wrinkly clementines caught my eye.
A note about this sponge. I’ve always always baked with butter. But last year my friend Jane at Hodge Podge Days told me that she bakes with Stork. I was a bit snobby about it, but curious too so I gave it a go. And you know what? I’ve been making consistently delicious sponge ever since! I don’t know if it’s the Stork or the buttermilk but it’s a winning combo. I use the buttery version mainly. Can anyone explain it to me? Just don’t use it in flapjacks and brownies. As soon as you melt it, it goes gross…
One final note. I’ve made rhubarb cake several times in the last few years. If I put it straight in the oven, the long strips of rhubarb stay on top and look very pretty indeed. If I let the cake batter sit around for a while first (ie because I had another cake in) then added the rhubarb before cooking, it sank all the way to the bottom. So don’t hang around and get it in as soon as it’s ready. Cooking the rhubarb first before making the batter is important for this reason.
A simple cake that makes the most of rhubarb’s tart flavour – so enjoy it while it is in season!
- 100 g caster sugar + 1 tbsp
- 100 g light brown sugar
- 125 g Stork / soft unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 200 g plain / all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 75 g buttermilk
- 2 clementines or one small orange. Zest and juice
- 3-4 stalks fresh rhubarb
Preheat oven to 170c, line a 2lb loaf tin and have all your ingredients at room temperature.
Prep the rhubarb. Wash stalks, trim them so they are no longer than the loaf tin then cut in half and pat dry. In a large frying pan / saute pan heat 1tbsp caster sugar and half of the orange juice over a low heat. Add the rhubarb, cover with the sugar, and heat on low for approx 5 minutes until it is soft. Watch it doesn't burn – add more juice if needed – or a splash of water. Remove from heat and put to one side.
In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream the sugars and butter/stork together until soft and fluffy. With butter it will take several minutes, with a Stork-type spread, just a couple of minutes.
Slowly add the eggs, buttermilk and zest.
Add the flour and baking powder, and mix gently until just combined.
Spoon into the prepared loaf tin and smooth the top. Place slices of the rhubarb gently on top and press in gently – just enough for it to stick to the mix.
Put immediately into the oven (hang around and the rhubarb will sink during cooking). Cook for approx 50 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.
Squeeze the remaining orange juice over the top when it comes out of the oven. Transfer to a rack and allow to cool.
Store in an airtight tin or tightly wrapped in baking paper / foil.
The amount of rhubarb you will need will depend on how thick your stalks are. If they are really skinny, don’t half them. Better to cook too many – you can use the leftovers to serve with the cake or enjoy with some Greek yoghurt.
- Add star anise to the pan when cooking the rhubarb for a new flavour combo you may not have tried before
- Add 1/2 tsp ground ginger to the cake mixture (when you add the flour) if you like your cake with a little spicy edge!