Rhubarb & Cream Cake
I do so love the generosity of cooks, and the way they not only share the fruits of their labours, but also their favourite recipes. The original recipe for this cake was sent to me by an enthusiastic baker with a note saying it was truly scrumptious. And she’s absolutely right, it’s a wonderful cake, although I have to admit I have fiddled about with the recipe somewhat, but then again that’s what cooks do, isn’t it!
The thing I love about it is the use of cream rather than butter in the batter – it gives the cake a light-as-air texture, which is a great contrast to the tart chunks of rhubarb and crunchy, sparkly Demerara sugar.
450g rhubarb stalks, washed and dried
1 1/2 cups (225g) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Finely grated zest 2 large lemons
1 large egg
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 cup (250ml) pure cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar
Icing sugar, for dusting, optional
Vanilla bean ice cream or cream, to serve
Preheat your oven to 175 C. Butter a 23 cm springform tin, line the base with buttered baking paper, then dust the tin with flour and set it aside.
Chop the rhubarb into small chunks (roughly 1cm) – you should have 3 cups. Set aside ½ cup of chunks and slip the rest into a bowl.
Tip the flour, baking powder and salt into another bowl. Use a balloon whisk to mix them together for 1 minute so they’re thoroughly combined. Sprinkle in the lemon zest and whisk for another 10 seconds or so, then set the bowl aside.
Break the egg into a third bowl (the last one, I promise!) and beat it briefly with the balloon whisk to break it up. Add the caster sugar and whisk the two together for 1 minute so the mixture looks creamy. Pour in the cream and vanilla and whisk again until everything is thoroughly combined. Add all but 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture to the bowl, and use a spatula to stir the two together. It’s best not to beat them as this causes the cake to toughen – I half-stir and half-fold them together, as leaving the batter quite lumpy helps make the cake really light.
Sprinkle the reserved tablespoon of flour mixture over the rhubarb in the bowl, and give it a good shake so the pieces are lightly dusted in flour. Now, fold the rhubarb into the batter – it will be thick with rhubarb. Scoop the batter into the prepared tin and use a palette knife to spread it out evenly. Scatter the reserved ½ cup of rhubarb on top, and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.
Pop the tin in the oven and bake the cake for 50 – 55 minutes until the top springs back when gently pressed, or a fine skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and sit it on a wire rack. Let it cool for 8 minutes, then un-clip and remove the sides of the tin. Sit a sheet of baking paper on top of the cake and a flat plate on this; quickly invert the cake onto the plate and remove the base. Now sit the rack on top of the cake and invert it again onto this. Leave it to cool until it’s barely warm or room temperature.
Just before serving, carefully slide the cake onto a serving plate or cake stand and dust the top with icing sugar, if using. Serve with ice cream or cream. (Leftover cake keeps well in the freezer for up to 3 weeks, just gently warm it in a low oven or the microwave before serving).