Cake celebrates spring

PATRICIA SOPER
Last updated 09:15 26/09/2013
Rhubarb cake
PATRICIA SOPER/Fairfax NZ

The first crop of rhubarb is tender and flavoursome, just the thing for a cake that is infused with orange and spice and moistened with a mouthwatering glaze.

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Rhubarb is classified as a vegetable, although I have never been able to regard it as such.

It was greatly valued in my childhood as the first edible that sprang from the early spring garden, when preserves were running low and summer fruit was months away.

Most folk had a rhubarb clump in their section, usually in a corner, away from the main vegetable garden.

Black and lumpy in winter, the first signs of growth on the plant's crown is fattening red buds that give way to fresh tender green leaves.

It's an amazing transformation and one that has never ceased to fascinate me.

Rhubarb has enjoyed something of a revival in the past few years, thanks in no small part to television chefs' voracious appetite for novelty, but also to the release of new varieties that promise ruby red stalks.

Even at its ripest rhubarb is sour, so sweetening is essential.

Incidentally, marinating chopped stalks in citrus juice prevents pulping and shredding.

Why this works I can't tell you, but I do know it is the most effective method of keeping rhubarb whole.

RHUBARB CAKE WITH FRUIT GLAZE (serves 6)

Filling

400g chopped ripe rhubarb

1/2 cup orange juice

juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup sugar

Method

Put rhubarb in a glass or china bowl.

Pour juices over and sprinkle with sugar.

Cover with cling film and swirl ingredients until combined. Set aside.

Cake base

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

75g cold cubed butter

1 egg

Method

Set oven at 180 degrees Celsius.

Put first 5 ingredients in a food processor and blitz until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Whisk egg, add to mixture and process until it resembles dough.

Press into a greased 21cm cake tin with removable base. Push dough up the sides until you have a hollow in the centre.

Drain rhubarb and save juice for the glaze.

Fill the hollow with the drained rhubarb.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Topping ingredients

50g melted butter

50g sugar

1 egg

1 tsp ground cardamom

Method

Beat ingredients together until creamy.

Remove cake from oven and pour topping over. Return to oven and bake for a further 20 minutes.

Allow cake to cool in tin then place on a serving plate.

To make glaze

Put saved fruit juice in a small pan and bring to a simmer.

Add 3Tbsp apricot jam and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Brush cake with hot glaze.

Serve with custard or cream.

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- The Southland Times

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