Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rhubarb Crumble Cake - this one's a keeper!

Just recently not one but two people over here in the States have told me they have never had rhubarb! As a Brit this amazes me - rhubarb is part and parcel of the English culinary tradition and, in the UK, would almost be like saying you've never had an apple. I just love rhubarb's unique astringent tartness ameliorated by all that lovely sugar. Rhubarb is an intriguing plant - most people think of it as a fruit because it is nearly always used as a fruit but it is in fact a vegetable which originated in the damp and cold of Siberia - making it a perfect candidate to be grown in Yorkshire - a place where its production became so huge that there is an area of Yorkshire designated as the Rhubarb Triangle - for more interesting info on this and other rhubarb facts, like it being harvested by candlelight - yes I am serious!! - follow this LINK

 So here is this year's recipe for my own rhubarb - not harvested by candlelight but definitely grown in cold and damp Maine!
A three layered cake - spongey cake on the bottom - rhubarb toffee sauce in the middle - crumble topping above.
First - always read the recipe from start to finish to know what to expect and in what order to do things..

2.5oz sugar
1.5oz butter
2 tablespoons cream or half and half or half half and half and half cream – ha ha, sorry I couldn’t resist that :)
9oz rhubarb – cut into small slices/chunks

3oz white unbleached flour
2 oz butter - cold (I always use salted as I like that flavor)
2oz sugar
If you’d like you can add 2oz flaked almonds to the crumble after you’ve made it but I didn’t have any so I didn’t add it in.

All ingredients should be at room temperature to make the going that much easier – the eggs assimilate into the creamed butter and sugar so much better when it’s all at room temperature – and I’m talking about room temperature in say NY as here in Maine it’s still in the upper 50’s lower 60’s – so maybe 68F or so.
4oz butter
4oz sugar
4oz flour plus 1 teaspoon of baking powder sifted together.
3 medium sized eggs whisked together
2 teaspoons vanilla or 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon almond extract/essence – I like the latter – almond is a good foil to rhubarb.

Start with the rhubarb sauce which takes a while to make and then cool down.

1. Melt butter, sugar and cream together gently in a heavy bottomed pan and let it bubble a bit but don’t let it catch.

2. Add in the rhubarb and let it coat and cook gently – the juices will flow from the rhubarb but keep cooking and let a lot of the water evaporate until it thickens back up – stir constantly as it gets to a point where it starts to catch on the bottom of the pan – at that point you are probably done – let it cool completely.

Set your oven to 350F

Crumble part:
1. Mix flour and sugar together in a bowl.

2. Cut the butter (which should be cold for this purpose) into it in small pieces and rub into the dry mix either with your hands using your fingertips to rub the butter in or you can do very quickly in a food processor - until you get a nice crumbly mix - here's a video to help if you haven't done this before - thanks Baking Mad!

3. If you are using the almonds add them in after you’d done you’re crumbling.

4. Set aside until needed.

Cake part:
1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

2. Slowly add the eggs bit by bit and beat in between additions – near the end of adding all the eggs this my curdle – that’s OK in this cake.

3. Add the dry ingredients in in three goes and mix well but with a light hand.

Look at how spectacularly yellow my cake batter is from the divine eggs at Farmetta Farm!!

Now we assemble the cake:
1. Put cake batter into the bottom of a cake pan with a removable base that has been buttered and floured – I always us my 6” one because I love small tall cakes but you could also do this in an 8” pan but your baking time might be shorter. Make a bit of a well in the centre and..

2. Pour the nice and thick cold rhubarb toffee sauce atop and spread evenly and not quite to the sides if you can manage that - you can see I couldn't !!

3. Sprinkle the crumble evenly over the top.

4. Bob into your oven and bake for about 40 – 50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean – although do bear in mind you have sauce in there so if there’s anything sticky and pink that’ll be the rhubarb goo – so clean of yellow batter.

5. Remove from oven when ready and allow to cool in the pan.

6. Remove genteely from the pan.

7. Yuhoo – this is a lovely cake – the cake is spongey – the rhubarb is just right and just enough and the crumble is delicious! You can have it with heavy/double cream whipped or with a nice pouring custard – YUMMMMMMMM!!!!!!

Do be aware so you don't think you haven't cooked your cake properly this is one of those cakes that sinks a little in the middle when it cools!
Here are some more interesting facts about rhubarb - we do all know the leaves are TOXIC right - so no ingesting of those nasty leaves - throw them away where children and pets can't get to them!

 Now here's a picture of the robin I wrote about a couple of weeks ago who has nested right outside our back door under a small roof to keep her eggs nice and dry. Her babies have hatched and are safe and sound - here's Mum feeding the babies their delicious worms - sorry the picture is blurry - I have to take the photo from a distance through a window so as not to scare Mum away!!
Happy Baking - let me know how it goes and feel free to post pics on my Facebook page when you have baked this yummy cake.
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