Category Archives: Rhubarb

Strawberry and rhubarb crumble cake

strawberry rhubarb cake2

The strawberries are finally ripening. It feels like the shops have been selling them for months, but us home growers have to stay firm and have patience, because we know it’ll be worth it. The beauty is, I can now put them with the rhubarb (which is still going strong) in order to counterbalance the tartness of the rhubarb with the sweetness of the strawberries. They make great companions.

This is a small cake, made in a loaf tin, as I’m the only one in my household with a sweet tooth, I’d never get through it otherwise. This will give you about 5 quite generous slices (as seen above), so if you want more just double the quantities and make it in a larger tin. Unless you use a loose bottomed tin, be sure to line it with greaseproof paper with enough excess so you can lift it out by holding the paper. Otherwise you’d loose the crumble topping!

Recipe source: a mash-up of several found online, but basically my own. Ingredients in bold.

Slice about 2 stalks of rhubarb (around 100g) into chunks, and measure out about the same of strawberries. Hull and then chop the berries down to approx the same size as the rhubarb chunks (I sliced medium ones in half, big ones into quarters). Put the fruit into a bowl and add 1 dessert spoon of plain flour and 1 of sugar and mix to coat. Set aside.

For the cake base: cream together 100g butter with 100g sugar. Measure out 100g self-raising flour, add one spoonful to the batter along with one beaten egg and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix. Add the rest of the flour and fold in.

For the crumble top: combine 50g butter with 75g plain flour by rubbing together with your fingers and then mix in 50g oats. It will make a quite chunky crumble, but it’s less likely to fall off the moment you take it out of the tin.

Grease and line your cake or loaf tin, add the cake batter and smooth over, add the fruit evenly over the top and then the crumble topping. Finally sprinkle over 1 dessert spoon of sugar.

Bake for around 35mins or until a skewer inserted down to the cake base comes out clean.

strawberry punnet strawberry rhubarb cake process1 strawberry rhubarb cake process2

strawberry rhubarb cake1

 

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Rhubarb, orange and ginger muffins

rhubarb muffin1

The rhubarb is coming thick and fast, and now that the leaves are bigger than a dustbin lid in size, the stems are being naturally forced to find their way to the light and are redder and sweeter for it.

I’m a big fan of muffins (you can keep your cupcakes) and I make no apologies for the amount of muffin recipes that may appear on this blog over the year.

I even made 2 batches of these in order to perfect them … I know, it’s a real trial!

  • This recipe is for 12 muffins, I often halve the ingredients to make 6.
  • 300-400g rhubarb, trimmed and chopped.
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger, plus another teaspoon for topping
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 200ml milk
  • 100g butter, melted
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • teaspoon of brown sugar for topping
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºc, line a muffin tin with papers.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Mix in the rhubarb and orange zest.
  4. Beat the eggs with the milk and butter (once cooled slightly).
  5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix.
  6. Spoon into the cases.
  7. Mix together the teaspoon of ground ginger and brown sugar and sprinkle over.
  8. Bake for 25-30 mins, allow to cool on a cooling rack.
  9. Ideally eat while still warm with cream or custard.

rhubarb muffin2 rhubarb

 

Rhubarb bread

rhubarb 1st harvest

Finally, my first proper harvest of the year (not including overwintering leeks and parsnips). It’s not huge, it’s not fancy, but that’s okay.

We inherited a whole row of rhubarb when we took over our plot, and by the looks of it, it had been growing quite happily by itself, undisturbed for quite some time. I think without anyone to pick it, it had gathered in strength, spread itself out in the available space and the plants grew huge. The problem was, we found we couldn’t grow anything else around it, because it took so many nutrients and moisture from the surrounding soil, it really was a thug. Eventually we decided it was too much, so out it came (with quite some effort). We saved the largest root to replant in a space behind the shed, and for a while we weren’t sure if it would recover. But thankfully it did. Last year, I left it well alone to build it’s strength back up again, so I’ve been looking forward to it being back on the menu again this year.

Rhubarb is technically a herb (part of the sorrel family), but we tend to treat like a fruit. It can be sour, but with a bit (or a lot) of sugar or honey it transforms into something else. It pairs wonderfully with ginger, almond, vanilla, or other sweeter tasting fruit such as strawberries. It’s robust enough to hold it together under a crumble or cobbler topping, yet can also be cooked right down to a sweet sticky compote to add with cream to a fool. I once tried making a rhubarb chutney, but it wasn’t the greatest success to be honest, then another time I made rhubarb and vanilla jam and it was delicious. It takes a bit of experimentation.

As with this recipe from Jack Monroe. It’s probably sacrilege to not make a crumble with your first harvest, but it’s been so warm lately, it’s not exactly crumble and custard sort of weather. I wanted to make more of a cake (which I will get around to shortly) but on looking through my cookbooks I felt intrigued by Jacks soda bread with rhubarb and ginger, and it just so happened I had a piece of fresh ginger that needed using, so decided to give it a go. It’s also good to have a less sugary way of using rhubarb.

rhubarb and ginger

RHUBARB BREAD
credit: Jack Monroe, A Year in 120 Recipes.

Ingredients:

  • Juice of half a lemon (I only had an orange in the fridge, worked just as well)
  • 300ml of milk (I personally found 200ml to be adequate, you may need more)
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 rounded teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g fresh rhubarb
  • a thumb of fresh ginger

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.
  2. Squeeze the lemon/orange juice into the milk and set aside.
  3. Put the flour and bicarb into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  4. Finely slice the rhubarb and peel and grate the ginger. Mix them into the flour.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in most of the sour milk and mix to form a dough. Use your judgement – if the mixture is cracking and crumbly, add the rest of the milk, or if it’s very sticky, add more flour.
  6. Dust a loaf tin with flour and drop in the batter (I found the word batter here misleading, I think it should be more of a slightly sticky dough). Shake from side to side gently to roughly fill the tin (I would say to push it gently in to either end, shaking did nothing for mine).
  7. Score a deep line down the centre and dust with a little extra flour.
  8. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 40 mins and leave to cool slightly before serving.

Jacks Tip: Serve sliced, thick and chunky, with a smear of honey and some smoked mackerel fillet perched on top.

I have included pictures here of how mine looked before and after baking in case it helps.

rhubarb bread raw mixrhubarb bread in tinrhubarb bread slices

Don’t expect it to taste sweet like cake, it is savoury, and a tiny bit bland, I wonder if a pinch of salt may help. I think would be nice with a bit of strong cheese, or sweetened with honey as Jack suggests. Do try it.

 

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