When life hands you rhubarb

I scrupulously avoided rhubarb for many years.  If it isn’t prepared with care and attention (and enough sugar) it can be a tart, slimy experience.  However, I have persevered and sometimes make sweet desserts from springtime fresh rhubarb.

My friend Nina Fenner who has recently moved from my village came to visit me last week and brought me some fresh picked rhubarb from her garden.  In case you didn’t know, Nina is a handmade book maker and a green thumb.


I squirreled it away in the fridge and tried out a new recipe today.

Almond Rhubarb Cake

  • 125g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing
  • 200g rhubarb
  • 100g caster sugar plus 30g for dredging
  • 50g light brown soft sugar
  • 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 75g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • A large pinch of salt

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 20cm-diameter loose-bottomed or springform cake tin, and line the base with parchment.

2 Wash and trim the rhubarb into 15cm/6 inch lengths, then arrange in a small oven dish. Dredge with the caster sugar, cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until soft.

3 While the rhubarb softens, melt the butter for the cake in a small pan over a low heat. Once melted, whisk in the sugars, eggs, zest and extracts. In a separate bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, then stir briefly to combine.

4 Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin. Cut the cooked rhubarb pieces in half along their lengths to give thin strips, then curl these randomly on top of the batter in its tin. You could make a pattern from them if you’re a more fastidious cook than me, but I prefer to just arrange them haphazardly on top to give messy swirls of rhubarb.  Me, I always go for a pattern.


5 Bake for 40-45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out more or less clean. If the rhubarb starts to brown at any point, cover the top of the cake with foil for the remaining cooking time.

6 Unmould, then let the cake cool on a wire rack. When it’s serving time, use a good serrated knife to saw cleanly through the rhubarb. And for down days, when even more sweet comfort is called for, serve it slightly warm, in a thick wedge with lots of vanilla ice-cream.


Well, today isn’t a down day.  Steve and I are going to see Miles Ahead with some friends and then, go out for a curry in Exeter afterwards.  We’ll come back here for dessert & check out the new recipe.


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