Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Rhude-barb Chronicles

Part II of my rhubarb chronicle involves the search for the perfect portable crumble.  
After researching the rhubarb cakes I realised there are a good many recipes out there for rhubarb crumble cake. All hail The Chap! Cake and crumble?
I was convinced that a layer of soft vanillary sponge, tart rosy rhubarb and sweet crunchy crumble could only be improved by the fact you can eat it with your hands. What could be better?  Well, that I stole the rhubarb from my neighbour's allotment made it taste all the sweeter.

After comparing a couple of recipes mainly this Tamasin Day Lewis recipe for Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble Cake and this National Trust recipe for Sticky Rhubarb Cake I decided to just make up my own. It wasn't perfect but I think that was more about my oven than the mix (I have a double width range oven and it cooks slowly). If you fancy having a go here is the recipe:

Rhude-barb Crumble Cake (recipe by BooCakey)

You will need a big tin - this is a big cake (christmas cake sized or a 9 inch square tin)

Sponge cake base

6oz golden caster sugar
6oz Stork or butter
6oz self raising flour
3 eggs (free range - don't be a chicken torturer)
2 oz ground almonds
1tsp vanilla paste/ extract
1tsp baking powder

Rhubarb bit

4-6 sticks of rhubarb chopped into 1cm widths
1-2 tsp golden caster sugar

Crumble topping

5oz flour (self raising or plain)
5oz butter (real butter - no margarine for this)
2 tbsp golden caster sugar


Pre heat the oven to 180oC

Grease and flour your tin - this is a smashing tip from www.libertylondongirl.com because it helps cook the bottom of your cake too.

Wash and chop up the rhubarb, toss in the sugar and put to one side.

Make the cake batter. Chuck all the ingredients in a bowl (sieve the flower though you lazy bugger) and whizz with a hand mixer or if you are mixing by hand - cream the Stork and sugar first, then mix the eggs in one at a time with the flour, baking powder and almonds and vanilla.

If you can cope with the washing up, get out your food processor and make the crumble by whizzing together the butter and flour (put the flour in first - it helps stop the butter from sticking to the blades of the processor) then add the sugar. It should look bread crumby.  If you are a by hand type then get messy and rub the flour and butter through your fingertips until you have a bread crumbs type consistency. Stir in the sugar.

Bring it all together

Pour the cake batter into the greased and floured tin, next comes the rhubarb, then a blanket of crumble topping. Stick in the the oven for about 45 mins.  It will be cooked when it stops wobbling and the top is golden brown.  

Now here is the bit where I messed up. In my wisdom when I realised the cake was cooked but the top not quite brown and crunchy enough for my liking I turned on the grill and left it to *crisp up.  

School girl error, I took my eyes off it for a second and over browned the topping. Fortunately, picking the worst bits off and sprinkling with icing sugar saved the day and less than 24 hours after its creation the whole lot has been eaten.  This one is best served room temperature I think and when I make it next time I may get a little crazy and add some demerara sugar to the crumble topping for extra crunch. 

Monday, 25 April 2011

The Rhubarb is Alright

Rhubarb!  It is all over our allotments.  Well except for our plot where it is struggling to get established due to some little git of an insect nibbling and leaving the fruit of its loins all over the underside of the leaves.  Rhubarb is much beloved of my BaBFF (my baking and best friend 4eva, Audrey -  keep up that maybe the first and last time I explain that acronym) and I.  She makes the most delicious rhubarb crumble I have ever tasted.  Nothing fancy, no sprinkle of ginger or oats in the topping, just perfect tart rhubarb with a spring duvet of buttery crumble, crisp and squidgy all at the same time.  I plan on getting the recipe for BooCakey as soon as I can.

I have been trying out new things to do with rhubarb, my current obsession being rhubarb cake.
I had a go at a Good Food recipe for rhubarb spice cake (the official picture is the one below) last week although I can quite honestly say it looked nothing like the picture when it turned out.

It was like a golden syrup cake but with bits of rhubarb floating about. The cake was lovely but the combination was not great if I am completely honest.

The success of the week was using the rest of the rhubarb to make a lemon and rhubarb drizzle cake.
Tart and unctuous, wonderfully simple and very quick too.  I used some stewed rhubarb from my freezer (a take away sized tub full). I don't have a picture but here is the recipe; 

Lemon and Rhubarb Drizzle Cake (Recipe by BooCakey)

Cake batter:
6oz self raising flour
6oz golden caster sugar
6oz Stork or butter
2oz ground almonds
3 large eggs 
1 tsp baking powder
Cooled, drained rhubarb
The zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon of lemon oil (optional)

The rhubarb:
4 sticks of rhubarb chopped into inch pieces 
1-2 tbsp golden caster sugar
4 tbsp water

You will need a 9 inch square baking tin or silicone equivalent or a christmas cake sized round tin. Something big basically as this cake makes 12 to 16 portions. Grease the tin.

Lightly stew the rhubarb by chucking the ingredients in a pan and boiling until the rhubarb softens ever so slightly and juice starts to be released. Leave to cool.
Pre heat the oven to 180oC
Once cooled, strain the rhubarb through a sieve, keeping the juice- this will be the drizzle part of the finished cake.  Pour the juice into a pan and simmer until reduced by half.

While the syrup is reducing make the cake.  This bit is a doddle.
If you have a food mixer (hand held or otherwise) this will make your life easier, if you don't it will give your beating arm a good work out.

Cream the butter/ Stork and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the ground almonds, eggs, lemon zest and oil, sieve in the flour and baking powder and whizz until all mixed together (about a minute with an electric mixer).  Don't over mix or your cake will be tough.  Gently fold in the strained rhubarb and pour the mixture into the greased tin.  Pop in the oven and set a timer for 45mins.

The cake is cooked when it feels firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean.

Take the cake out of the oven (keep in in the tin) and use the skewer to poke holes all over it.  Spoon over the warm rhubarb syrup over the the warm cake, be gentle.  Leave to cool and let the syrup sink in.
Best served in your mouth.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Baking a Blog

My new adventure is to bake a blog.  I've dabbled in blogging before but not about baking.  Baking is my escape.  Reading cookery books is one of my favourite pastimes.  I love the indulgence of creating a really sweet, naughty treat and then giving it away to people whose opinion I care about. I love getting cake from my friends and baking with a big glass of wine.
My plan is to write about what I bake with some pretty pictures, discuss ideas, friends cakes and any other cakey and bakey things that grab my attention.
My recent cakey highs and lows involved flopsy brownie cupcakes that tasted amazing but looked like cow pats, a luminescent rainbow cake covered in white butter cream and sprinkled with fairy dust glitter, 

x-rated valentine cupcakes, and a heartbreakingly rich brownie (with marshmallows, amaretti biscuits and hazelnuts) born of a rather traumatic period in my life.
I'll write up some recipes and share them here.  Be kind while I'm learning though, I'm a newbie.