An update and a cake

I haven’t given up on this blog yet. It might look like it, but I’m still around. I just figured that, given that I didn’t spend any time lying on the beach this summer, I probably shouldn’t be spending any time writing blog posts either. Which is to say, I didn’t go back home and I am gutted. But I’m getting there.

A few weeks ago it was my birthday. I survived the day thanks to several glasses of wine at Alimentum and friends that were nice enough to put up with my complaining about being old and not being in Greece.

The day before, my boyfriend and I made me a cake, which wasn’t a great success. It looked a bit sad for a celebration cake, and it tasted just ok. A bit too damp, not chocolatey enough. I decided to take it to the office the next day anyway, as I had promised cake and it was at least edible.

I took the cake with me to coffee and it disappeared pretty rapidly (it is cake after all). Then, one of the senior people asked me if I made it myself and complimented me on a rhubarb cake I had made a few weeks ago and taken to an office garden party. I was surprised he remembered and, of course, vainly proud. So, even though most of my spare time nowadays is spent stressing about not working hard enough, I made that cake again. I like feeding people and, let’s be honest, I like cake.

The recipe is very simple to put together and quite versatile. A sponge is topped by rhubarb and then crumble. You could of course use any fruit you like, I reckon peaches or strawberries would be pretty nice. My sponge is made from a simple cake batter, with equal amounts egg, sugar, flour and butter. I think Americans like to throw some buttermilk in there too, but I never have any handy.

Rhubarb Crumb Cake

For the cake

150 gr butter
150 gr sugar (I like to use a mixture of caster and soft dark brown)
150 gr self-raising flour
3 large eggs 

Cream the butter with the sugar(s) until smooth. Add the eggs and sift in the flour. Whisk until incorporated.

For the rhubarb

400 gr rhubarb, cut in inch long pieces
2-3 tbsp caster sugar

Mix the sugar with the rhubarb and let it sit while preparing the rest.

For the crumble topping

100 gr cold butter
150 gr flour or a combination of flour and ground nuts (add slowly until the texture feels right)
80 gr brown sugar (or to taste)

Mix with your hands until it crumbly.

In a oven-proof dish, layer the cake batter, then the rhubarb with all the sugary juices and finally, top with the crumble. Bake in a 180 C oven for 40-50 minutes – you might want to start checking after 35-40 minutes by inserting a knife in the middle. It needs to come out almost clean.

You can serve this with custard or cream or ice cream or be weird like my boyfriend and have it with loads of evaporated milk. I quite like it as it is, with a cup of coffee in the afternoon.

It’s all about rhubarb…

If you follow food blogs like I do you will have noticed the recent rhubarb craze. Everybody is making cakes, crumbles (or crisps as they like to call them on the other side of the ocean), muffins, ice-creams, tarts with rhubarb. I understand that in America there is quite a short rhubarb season, from April to September, which would justify why everyone goes absolutely mental about it, since it is so amazing! But here, thankfully, we have rhubarb almost all year round, and I am prepared to trust Gregg Wallace when he claims that rhubarb is in season all year apart from Autumn.
My rhubarb obsession has resulted in an almost endless supply of rhubarb crumble all winter. Now that the spring/summer is here, I thought I might spice things up with a little strawberry.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble

To prepare the filling, I chop up the rhubarb and boil it with some red wine until it becomes very soft and jam-like. Some people prefer it with some bite to it- I don’t. Rhubarb is very sour and usually takes a fair amount of sugar to make it edible. I don’t really follow a recipe and I like to add the sugar to the rhubarb at the end and taste it to see if it’s sweet enough. Brown sugar is definitely the way forward here. The strawberries are added after the rhubarb is cooked, and left it the pot to cook for as long as you want them- depending on whether you actually want whole fruit in your crumble or not. At that point the kitchen smells amazing and I would happily eat the whole thing without the topping. Actually, it goes great with just a bit of yogurt.
But back to our target, time to make the crumble topping. I use a simple recipe that involves just 3 ingredients:

175g/6oz plain flour
50g/2oz brown sugar
100g/3½ oz butter

You can add some chopped out ground nuts like almonds for some more texture/taste.
The amount of topping is usually enough for 4-5 stalks of rhubarb, depending on their size.
Bake for as much as you can really, before it burns, because the topping will just get nicer with time. Half an hour is a minimum I usually find, if you want to avoid a floury crumble.
You can serve it with either cream or custard, and I even like it with some greek yogurt, especially if the filling is a bit on the sweet side.
I’m not looking forward to September…