Rhubarb crumble – with a twist

Last week, I decided that I should treat the service users at my voluntary job to some homemade cake.  Normally, I would bake a loaf cake of some description as it is easy to transport, slice and eat without too much mess.  This time, however, I had some rhubarb lurking in the fridge (courtesy of mum and dad’s garden).  

The ‘default’ recipe for rhubarb is crumble of course, but when the weather is warmer I sometimes find it a little too stodgy and comfort food-ish.  This recipe is a lovely alternative to that – it still has the crumbly topping, but the cake itself is a delicious, moist, rhubarb and vanilla cake.  Be warned, this is definitely a cake to be eaten with a fork, as it is almost ‘damp’, thanks to the rhubarb and the ground almonds.  It is also a bit more of a time-consuming recipe than a lot of cakes, but is most definitely worth the effort.


Crumb topping:
50g unsalted butter
25g light muscovado sugar
40g caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt

Melt the butter over a low heat, add both sugars and stir until dissolved into a smooth, toffee-like sauce. Stir in vanilla, pour into a bowl and mix in the flour and salt to make a stiff dough. Press this mix firmly into the base of the bowl or into a shallow dish and set aside (preferably in the fridge to go cold). I would recommend that you do this a good half an hour before you start on the cake itself, to be certain that the crumb mix has set properly.
Once the crumb mix is in the fridge, move on to your rhubarb.

approx 275g rhubarb
50g caster sugar
2tsp plain flour

Wipe the rhubarb stalks clean, trim off the ends and cut into 2.5cm pieces. Put into a bowl and mix with sugar and flour – set aside for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally until the sugar mix has become moist and clings to the rhubarb.

For the cake:
6 tbsp soured cream
1 large egg, plus one egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp bicarb
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
75g unsalted butter (at room temp)
50g ground almonds

Preheat the oven to 180/gas 4. Grease and line a shallow 20cm square tin (or a 23cm round tin). Stir together soured cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla in a small bowl. Sift flour, sugar, bicarb, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl – add the butter and mix until you have fine ‘breadcrumbs’. Stir in the ground almonds then gradually beat in the soured cream mix until you have a smooth cake batter. Pour into the base of your tin, scatter over the rhubarb then break the crumb mix into pieces and put over the rhubarb. Don’t worry if the cake looks ‘thin’ before it goes into the oven, the cake mixture itself will still rise I promise!

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