When I was little my brother and I would sometimes be sent ‘on holiday’ (it was only about 1 hour away) to my grandparents. Occasionally (and probably because we were under her feet) my Grandma would cut the corners off a paper bag, fill them with a few spoons of sugar and send us out into the garden to snap off shoots of rhubarb and dip them into the sugar. I should imagine that we spent most of the time just screwing up our faces at the sourness of the rhubarb but the little bag of sugar made it feel like a treat.
My garden back home actually has part of that same rhubarb plant growing in it, as does my brothers garden and my mums. In fact my Grandmas plant was grown from a cutting taken from the plant that she originally had in her garden in Nottingham before she moved to Cornwall. It’s more of an heirloom than a vegetable.
I had the idea for this cake way back in October when I spotted a bottle of rhubarb gin behind the bar in Granville Moores in DC. I had to wait (not so patiently) for five months for rhubarb to come into season again!
The colour of this particular bake was absolutely beautiful but the results vary depending on the variety of rhubarb that you can get your hands on. The dense, orange scented, almond sponge does a wonderful job of soaking up the tart rhubarb juices.
Serve with clotted cream if you’re in the right neck of the woods otherwise a dollop of mascarpone will do the job.
1-2 tbsp sugar
400g rhubarb (or enough to cover base of tin)
2 tbsp gin
30g self raising flour
120g ground almond
zest and juice (about 2 tbsp) of 1 orange
Pre-heat your oven to 180°c
Give the rhubarb a quick wipe over with a piece of kitchen paper before cutting it. I like to cut mine so that it’s the same size as my tin but you may well be more creative than me so feel free to cut it to whichever size or shape suits you. Toss it in the sugar and gin before laying it out in a roasting tin. Roast it for about 10 minutes, less if your pieces are small, until it feels tender when you poke it with a knife.
But a knob of butter into the cake tin that you’ve chosen and pop it in the oven for a minute to melt. I line my tin with foil too because I have no faith in my ability to turn it out of the tin at the end but it’s up to you. Brush the melted butter into all the nooks and crannies of the tin, making sure that it’s really well coated.
Transfer the roasted rhubarb to this tin, draining off the syrupy juice and arranging as you see fit. Don’t discard the juice, it’s nice to drizzle it over the finished cake when you serve it.
To make the sponge simply cream together the butter and sugar until they are fluffy. Beat in the eggs and then fold in the flour and almonds. Finally mix in the zest and orange juice.
Spread this over the rhubarb in the tin and bake it for a further 35-40 minutes, until a skewer poked into the sponge layer comes out clean, you know the drill.
Leave to cool in the tin for five minutes or so before placing your serving plate over the tin and then inverting it to turn out the cake.
Dust with icing sugar if you like and serve with a little trickle of the roasting juices.