I grew up in an area where a lot of rhubarb was grown, but I can’t say that I was very familiar with it until a couple of years ago. In my memory, the only time I came across rhubarb was in strawberry rhubarb pie. My husband is quite fond of rhubarb and there are quite a few British desserts with rhubarb, so he is always encouraging me to bake with rhubarb. I bought a British cake baking magazine recently and it had the recipe for this cake, which looked wonderful.
I’m never quite sure how to pick good rhubarb. Is it ok if the stalks are fairly green? Will those be extra tart? Does it matter if the stalks are skinny or are the big ones better? Since I have no idea, I went with the medium sized stalks and mine we half green, half red. I got them at a local farm stand, so at least I knew that the rhubarb was fresh.
I was fairly worried that this cake would be too tart, but it was just right. The addition of the orange juice and zest balanced the tartness of the rhubarb. I also liked that the cake included ground almonds; I think that gives the cake more depth of flavor and texture. I did have a little bit of a problem with the cake sinking in the center when it cooled. I may have had too much liquid. The recipe called for medium eggs, which are very hard to get in the States. I also think that my orange was on the larger side, so the juice of the orange was too much juice. None the less, this cake had a wonderful combination of flavors, and it was a great way to use rhubarb beyond the traditional strawberry rhubarb pie.
Rhubarb and Orange Cake
14 ounces rhubarb, thickly sliced
10 ounces sugar, divided
1 cup butter, room temperature
Zest and juice of 1 small orange
8 ounces self-rising flour*
3-1/2 ounces ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
Powdered sugar, for serving
In a medium bowl, combine the sliced rhubarb and 2 ounces of sugar; stir to combine. Set aside for 30 minutes, allowing the rhubarb to macerate.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9” springform pan and line the base of the pan with parchment paper.
In a large mixer bowl, combine the remaining 8 ounces of sugar, butter, orange juice and zest. Beat on medium until well blended. Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and eggs; beat on medium until smooth. Fold in the rhubarb mixture. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.
Sprinkle the top of the cake with the sliced almonds and bake for 60-75 minutes, until a thin knife inserted in the cake comes out clean. Check the cake after 45 minutes; if the cake is browning too quickly, cover the cake loosely with foil. Remove the cake from the oven and cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Remove the sides of the springform pan and allow the cake to cool on a wire rack.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.
Recipe from BBC Good Food Bakes and Cakes
*I make my own self-rising flour by combining 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt