- Food & Drink
On Friday evening I sidled into a basement bar in Farringdon. My hat was low, my collar high, my demeanour shifty and in my hand I had a folded reusable shopping bag that I was prepared to use. I was there to meet my dealer. My rhubarb dealer.
Miss Whiplash had ordered 14kg of forced rhubarb from Yorkshire. She does things like that. But she isn’t a greedy shopper, and whenever she places a mammoth order for some form of seasonal fruit or vegetable, she casts about for other fanatics who consider having kilos of rhubarb stuffed in their fridge a cause for rejoicing and light dancing. I am one of these fanatics.
The rhubarb was a peppy shade of bubblegum pink and as sweet as rhubarb gets. I could nibble at it without scrunching my face into a wrinkle of sour. I’m obviously going to make rhubarb gin with some of it, but not everything can end its days soaking in a gin and sugar bath (please God, that’s how I go). So let there be cake. Rhubarb and cardamom cake.
Rhubarb & cardamom drizzle cake
175g granulated sugar plus 2 tbsp
200ml cold water
8 cardamom pods
450g forced rhubarb
200g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
200g demerara sugar
3 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
1 Put the granulated sugar and water in a pan with 6 of the cardamom pods. Bring to the boil and then boil for 2 minutes.
2 While the sugar syrup is boiling, trim the rhubarb and slice into equal lengths. Around an inch long is good. Add the rhubarb to the pan and boil for 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool. The rhubarb will be soft but still pink after cooling in the syrup.
3 Grease a 900g loaf tin and line it with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Grind the seeds from the last 2 cardamom pods to make a fine powder.
4 Beat the butter and demerara sugar together till they’re soft and combined. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Sift in the flour and add the cardamom powder. Fold the mixture together until it’s combined and you have a thick batter. Scrape into the cake tin.
5 Bake the cake till a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean – around 30 minutes or so. Poke a few holes in the cake with the skewer and pour in a few spoonfuls of the syrup from the rhubarb pan. Let the cake cool in the tin.
6 When the cake is cold, turn it out of the tin and put it on a serving plate or board (or wherever you plan to keep it). Gently lift the rhubarb chunks out of the syrup (they’ll be a little squishy) and arrange them on top of the cake. Mix 2 tbsp of the syrup with the remaining 2 tbsp of the granulated sugar. Spoon over the top of the cake. Serve in slices within 3 days. Nice with crème fraîche.
The leftover syrup is good as a drink with soda (or vodka and soda) and plenty of ice.