Rhubarb crumble or apple tart, pure perfection. Rhubarb tart and apple crumble, not so perfect. I can live with apple crumble but rhubarb tart has no place in my collection. I’ve tried it all; coating the rhubarb pieces in flour, dusting the bottom layer of pastry with semolina and putting an extra layer of pastry on the crust but to no avail. The tart is still soggy with pink juices overflowing and caramelising (burning) in the hot oven, leaving a sodden bottom layer of pastry that does not stand up to the weight of the fruit.
I get sick of rhubarb crumble so in an effort to try something new and to use fruit when it is in season (fresh and abundant), the rhubarb crumble cake was born.
I had a vision for this cake that differed from the recipes I found online where the rhubarb was mixed with the cake batter before being topped with the crumble topping. My cake was to have three layers starting with buttery sponge, finishing with a sweet and crunchy crumble with a filling of tart and sweet rhubarb. This cake was to emulate the amazing gooseberry crumble cake that my sister MaryRose (“MR”) had made for a celebration a couple of years ago, and what better fruit to compete with the gooseberry than rhubarb.
So with no recipe at hand I started to make this cake with the assistance of my 7 year old niece Florence. Every good baker needs an assistant!!! I made this cake using my mother’s Kenwood Chef stand mixer that is 47 years old. It still makes a very light sponge but it does tend to jump around while beating and it moved so much it knocked the bowl of prepared flour to the floor. This was Florence’s favourite part of the baking process.
This was the last cake I ever made for my lovely mum, but I did not know this at the time. It was just our usual Saturday at home together and she was still able to talk at the time to tell me how much she liked it.
This cake will work really well with gooseberries, blackberries or blackcurrants or any other tart fruit at your disposal. So get picking and get baking.
8 oz (200g) butter (room temperature)
8 oz (200g) plain flour
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
4 oz (100g) demerara/soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
5/6 stalks of rhubarb (depending on size)
2 tblsp of brown sugar
6 oz (150g) plain flour
3 oz (75g) butter
1 tblsp of sugar
zest of 1 orange (optional)
2 oz (50g) porridge oats (optional)
Line the base of 10 inch springform tin
Preheat the oven to 160 C for a fan oven and 180 C for a conventional oven
Cream the butter and both sugars together in a bowl until light and fluffy.
Beat 1 egg and 1 tblsp of the flour into the butter and sugar mixture.
Beat the remaining eggs in to the mixture, one at a time.
Sieve the remaining flour and baking powder into the mixture and fold through with a large spoon.
At the same time, cut the rhubarb into inch-long pieces and add to a bowl with the 2 tblsps of brown sugar.
To make the crumble, add the butter, flour and sugar to a bowl and using your fingers rub the mixture together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
At this stage you can stir through the orange zest and/or porridge oats if you are using them.
To assemble, spread the cake mixture into the bottom of the lined tin, top with the rhubarb mixture and finish with the crumble mixture.
Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes depending on your oven.
Take out of the oven when ready and allow to cool in the tin.
This was the first time Florence had tried rhubarb, even though her mother’s garden is full of it, but she was willing to give it a go. Unfortunately she didn’t enjoy the rhubarb filling but did enjoy the cake. We can’t win them all.