I have to admit that for a very long time I was not a fan of these pink sticks - in fact, family history has it that I threw up when forced to eat it at infant school, after I told them I couldn't eat it. Cue irate mother marching to school to remonstrate with the evil dinner lady. Needless to say, I wasn't forced to eat it again.
I avoided rhubarb for a long, long time after that. Until, in fact, we got our allotment. It's not as though I had a Damascene moment where I knew that I would now love rhubarb; I just felt that every allotment needed a rhubarb plant, otherwise an essential essence of allotmenty-ness was missing. Since we were growing it, SomeBeans persuaded me that we really should eat some of the stuff; and so I have, without the gastro-intestinal eruptions that I was expecting. Hoorah. The minimum that you can really ask of a food is that it doesn't cause you to up-chuck. The rhubarb indeed exceeded this minimum by actually being rather nice. I must have grown into this vegetable that masquerades as a fruit.
But now the perennial allotmenteer conundrum - what to do with all your harvest? We've crumbled extensively, and whilst I have made my peace with the stuff, something in me baulks at rhubarb jam, though I hear it is very nice with ginger. But you have to admit it doesn't look great. So, in the spirit of experimentation which led to the great parsnip cake disaster, I decided to make it into a cake. Instead of looking for an appropriate recipe, I thought I'd adapt one. So, out came the recipe for Dorset Apple Cake from SomeBeans' mum, and instead of apple, I chucked in rhubarb. I have to admit, I was full of trepidation when it came to tasting time. As was my official guinea pig, SomeBeans. Squidgy due to the liquid content of the rhubarb, it wouldn't last more than a couple of days, and is probably best stored in the fridge. It also is very crumbly. But surprisingly, it was extremely nice.
Cheshire Rhubarb Cake (an adaptation of Dorset Apple Cake)
8oz self-raising flour
12oz rhubarb sticks
4oz butter/cooking fat of your choice (though perhaps not lard!)
a little milk
2oz currants - or if, like me, you don't have any in the cupboard, sultanas did perfectly well
For the topping/filling:
1 tablespoon brown sugar.
I forgot - I also added a bit of cinnamon to the mix, as everything is improved by a sprinkle of cinnamon - try a bit the next time you make chilli con carne.
- Sieve flour and rub in fat until mixture is like breadcrumbs
- Chop rhubarb into chunks 1-2cm in length
- Add rhubarb to flour mixture with sugar, currants and cinnamon
- Add enough milk to make a stiff dough
- Stir all together
- Spoon into two greased 7" tins and smooth
- Bake at gas mark 7 (220 Celsius) for 10-15 mins, then reduce to gas mark 2 and bake for 60 minutes
- Once out of the oven, sandwich the two layers together with some of the butter
- Cut up the rest of the butter, mix with the brown sugar and put on top of the cake.