The first glut on our new allotment is already upon us – stems upon stems of Calpol-hued rhubarb, sown not by us but by the previous plotholder, who exists on the fringes of my consciousness as a woman who loved leeks and purple sprouting broccoli and all manner of brassicas, but planted the rhubarb for her daughter, beholden to pink, the most fuss-free way she could think of to get some sort of vegetable into Emily.
I baked this rhubarb cake last autumn with last year’s harvest from our back garden, before we left London and fled abroad, and the draft predictably went astray in the vast tunnels of my archive. But now we have a freezer full of chopped pink stalks, a bowl of stewed rhubarb with yogurt for breakfast daily and more on the way, it seems as good a time as any to revive it.
Should you too have a glut of garden rhubarb (or a greengrocer’s nearby), this cake is easy and rustic, but quite delectably perfect with a dollop of crème fraîche and a cup of breakfast tea. You don’t even need to unearth the weighing scales. Next up on my to-bake list with our absurdly extravagant rhubarb inheritance are these rhubarb and white chocolate blondies by the lovely Rosie Birkett. I’ll let you know how I get on… And if anyone lives near Oxford, I have more rhubarb than I know what to do with, and will happily pass some on!
- 2 cups spelt flour
- 1½ cups ground almonds
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ orange, zested and juiced
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
- 2 large organic free-range eggs
- 300ml milk
- 6 medium (or 4 large) stalks rhubarb, chopped into 4cm lengths
- flaked almonds, to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C. Grease and line a 23cm round springform tin.
- Combine the flour, 1½ cups ground almonds, sugar, salt, baking powder, ginger and orange zest in a large bowl.
- Combine the orange juice, vanilla extract, oil, eggs and milk in a separate bowl.
- Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing until well combined, but taking care not to over-mix.
- Pour half of the batter into the greased and lined pan, then place half of the rhubarb on top.
- Pour the remaining batter over this layer of rhubarb.
- Lay the remaining rhubarb over the top of the cake and sprinkle with flaked almonds and a little extra brown sugar.
- Bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
- To serve, remove from the tin and slice. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and a cuppa.