Monday, May 14, 2012

The root of the barbarians

Or rhubarb as we prefer to call it, although it doesn't sound so exciting and testosterone-filled.

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.

Cake success!

Recipe:

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
4oz sugar
2oz currants - or if, like me, you don't have any in the cupboard, sultanas did perfectly well

For the topping/filling:
3oz butter
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.

Method:
  1. Sieve flour and rub in fat until mixture is like breadcrumbs
  2. Chop rhubarb into chunks 1-2cm in length
  3. Add rhubarb to flour mixture with sugar, currants and cinnamon
  4. Add enough milk to make a stiff dough
  5. Stir all together
  6. Spoon into two greased 7" tins and smooth
  7. Bake at gas mark 7 (220 Celsius) for 10-15 mins, then reduce to gas mark 2 and bake for 60 minutes
  8. Once out of the oven, sandwich the two layers together with some of the butter
  9. Cut up the rest of the butter, mix with the brown sugar and put on top of the cake.

6 comments:

Mr. Farmer said...

You and the rhubarb is like me and cheese. Just I still hate them.

Arabella Sock said...

You were lucky having supportive parents over the rhubarb incident - we had to eat what was put in front of us sick or not.as witnessed by the fish incident when i was 8 where my mother would 't let me leave the table until I'd eaten the fish which I knew would make me ill. It went colder and colder and more disgusting until I eventually ate it and then puked it across the table. Didn't stop them making me eat fish again tho'. Amazingly I do love fish now

VP said...

Mmm that sounds very good. In my quest to hoover up the glut that is rhubarb, I have made a cheesecake, with homemade cheese to boot :)

Anna said...

Mmmmmm - HM if it has got Cheshire in front of its name it must be a quality cake! It does sound rather yummy but where is the photo or was it consumed post haste? I was lucky enough to inherit three clumps of rhubarb with the plot.

Rachel said...

Rhubarb cake - yummy! I discovered it by exactly the same route as you - adapting an apple cake recipe.

If my rhubarb gets big enough this year, I'll be making rhubarb cordial: http://colouritgreen.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/rhubarb-cordial/

This is delicious and leaves stewed rhubarb as leftovers to go in the cake :-)

HappyMouffetard said...

Mr Farmer - rhubarb is much easier avoided than cheese, though. It must be difficult! Thanks for visiting.

Arabella - sounds awful. Mum didn't have to travel too far for her piece-of-mind giving, as she was working at the school at the time, in the canteen. I'd like to think she'd have made the journey from home though.

VP - I'd noticed you'd made cheese - the cheesecake looks scrummy!

Anna - consumed before I thought of taking a photo, though to be honest, it wasn't much of a looker. Tasted better than it looked. Three clumps? I've not leared to love rhubarb that much...

Rachel - rhubarb cordial sounds good; I made blackcurrant cordial a couple of years ago, but rhubarb sounds much more exotic.