The first rhubarb of the year heralds the true start of Spring for me. It marks the beginning of fresh new flavours in the kitchen, and I don’t know about you but I am so ready for it! Rhubarb and custard is an unbeatable combination, so when I saw this recipe for rhubarb, custard and cardamom cake – vanilla sponge, topped with custard and spice-infused fruit – I knew I had to make it with my first haul of pink, forced Yorkshire rhubarb from local greengrocer Dig In. The most time-consuming part is the pastry cream (which you could make ahead or just use Bird’s!) but trust me, the rest is easy peasy and oh so worth it. To make the cake (recipe via Fika and Hygge), you will need:
For the topping:
50g caster sugar
2 tsp ground cardamom.
For the cake:
200g caster sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
200g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
150 – 200g pastry cream (note, the below recipe makes a lot more than you need but you can’t half an egg yolk and the cake is delicious served with a little extra pastry cream, thinned with more milk).
To make the pastry cream, heat 500ml whole milk with 1 tsp vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk with 100g caster sugar and 30g cornflour.
When the milk just reaches boiling point, take the pan off the heat and pour a third into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
Once whisked through, pour the egg mixture back into the hot milk. Return to the heat and bring to the boil gradually, whisking continuously as the mixture thickens, then remove from the heat and stir in half a teaspoon of salt and 25g butter. Pour into a bowl and place a sheet of parchment on the top.
Now make the cake: preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ Gas 4. Wash the rhubarb and cut it into 2 cm pieces. Melt the butter and stir in the sugar and cardamom. Add the rhubarb, stir to coat in the mixture and stew for 2 -3 minutes over a low heat to start the cooking process. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse.
Next, make the cake: cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs to the mixture a little at a time, whisking constantly and stirring to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Make sure the egg is fully incorporated before adding more.
Combine the dry ingredients and sift into the egg mixture. Fold in until incorporated.
Pour into a 9 cm greased and lined cake tin and spread out evenly. Spread the pastry cream evenly on top of the batter.
Remove the rhubarb from the syrup and scatter over the cake. Reserve the syrup for drizzling over the cake later.
Bake for around 60 minutes in a preheated oven, lowering the heat if the top gets too dark. A skewer inserted in the middle will come out clean but the pastry cream will remain a little wet until it firms on cooling.
Remove from the oven, cool slightly, drizzle with rhubarb syrup and serve.