Rhubarb is not something that has ever been on my radar. It is not something I have never been remotely curious about, despite devouring many platefuls of the said crumble and custard in my childhood. It has never occurred to me to think about what it looks like uncooked, where it comes from and how it can be cooked. Well, no more. I went to see one of my best friends last weekend and now I fear I have developed an obsession with this plant. My friend and I made a rhubarb cake, one of her favourite recipes and now mine too.
As I said before, I am not sure I’d even thought about what rhubarb looked like when not in a crumble. I was pleasantly surprised by this plant that appeared to be, to me, to look red and rosy celery with big green leaves. So fascinated was I by this ‘new discovery’ in my life, that I had to take a picture with my phone.
The recipe for the cake is easy to make, weight out dry and wet ingredients, mix together and then bake.
The final product unfortunately burnt which was truly disappointing because I was looking forward to experiencing that heart-melting moment when a cake comes out of the oven, golden brown and smelling heavenly. The universe, it seems, was reserving that moment for me for another evening, which in retrospective, given all the things that have happening in the past week, I am somehow glad of. Anyway, when the thick black crust was removed, I was able to eat the inside of the cake with impunity. Not sure I quite have the words to describe it yet, and the word ‘delicious’ feels like a poor attempt. I just know that I was left wanting more.
This feeling did not subside despite life’s best efforts to crush my spirit (yes, it has been an emotionally taxing week). So, after work on Tuesday evening, I dropped into Sainsbury’s in search of some fresh rhubarb. I was to be disappointed. It did not seem to exist, I walked around the produce area three times, just in case I was missing something, but to no avail. When I asked a member of staff, the only thing they could tell me, was where the tinned version was placed. I grudgingly bought a can, feeling unseen and disproving eyes glaring at me. I looked for orange water also did not seem to exist in this store but I did find a bottle of rose water so I bought that instead.
Off I went home and made my version of the cake. Here the disappointment ended. The smell was incredible, the look made my heart melt, the taste was out of this world. My soul actually sings whenever I took a bite of this cake. I think it is the rosewater that contributes to much of this, it is so aromatic.
But wait, there’s more. The story did not end on Tuesday night. As wonderful as number one cake was, I was still curious about cooking with fresh rhubarb so I continued my search. Tesco proved disappointing and I eventually found what I needed in Waitrose. Crazy.
On Sunday evening, I embarked on number two cake, with enthusiasm, I also needed something to do with my hands while my mind was processing the film I had just seen ‘Queen and Slim’. A complete detour from all things rhubarb, a beautiful well written film which made me cry at the end. I digress, I made number three cake with fresh rhubarb and orange water.
O.M.G. What difference. Number three cake was truly out of this world. I think this is how it is meant to taste. Tart, sharpness with the rhubarb and orange, contrasting with the sweetness and complemented by moistness and smoothness. Oh, I have had just the most wonderful week devouring this slice by slice with my morning coffee. Heaven.
The original recipe can be found here: https://www.riverford.co.uk/recipes/view/recipe/rhubarb-vanilla-yoghurt-cake
- 300g rhubarb, thinly sliced
- 310g self-raising flour
- 230g caster sugar
- Zest of 1 orange
- Pinch salt
- 2 eggs
- 125g plain yoghurt
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tbsp orange flower water
- 125g unsalted butter, melted & extra to grease the tin.
- Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas 4 and grease a 9” cake tin. Mix the rhubarb, flour, caster sugar, orange zest and salt together.
- Mix the eggs, yoghurt, vanilla essence, orange flower water and butter together. Mix both mixtures together until there are no dry patches left, but don’t over-mix.
- Pour it into the tin, level it off and bake for 50 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown. Let it cool in the tin for 15 minutes then turn it out to finish cooling on a rack.