Monday, 10 June 2013

A fresh start and a fruity, custardy cake.

Cake and herbs

Well, another year done and dusted, and time to forget exams and essays and concentrate on the good things in life. My herbs are growing, I've conjured up a new sourdough starter and the world seems full of potential once more. Things are changing, growing, getting their energy back after this long long winter, myself included. Although it feels a little like I'm in limboland, sleeping on a pullout bed and flitting between my parents' and Aluns' houses, all of my things in boxes, these weeks are an opportunity to contribute and experiment.
As the garden begins to flourish I've come back from London to a rather over-excited rhubarb plant. I decided to try out this cake, which, with a bit of tweaking, has turned out pretty tasty, very much like some of the buttery Breton offerings from my childhood in France. The recipe is a BBC Good Food offering that calls for rhubarb, although in the picture above I replaced that with black currants frozen in absurd quantities from last year's glut, cooked with the liquid drained off as well as I could. The stronger flavours of the currants worked well with the buttery comfort of the cake and perhaps the rhubarb would be even better if cooked with slightly less sugar initially. Either way, a versatile recipe good for tweaking.

Rhubarb and Custard Cake
- 1 quantity Barney's roasted rhubarb (see recipe, below method)
- 250g pack butter , softened, plus extra for greasing
- 150g custard (I mixed up half a pint of Bird's powdered custard - was fine)
- 250g self-raising flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g golden caster sugar
- icing sugar , for dusting

1. Cook the rhubarb. To do this, cut then stems into finger size pieces, rinse and shake off the excess water. Spread onto a baking tray or dish and coat in sugar, around 50g, perhaps less if you like the tartness, like me. Cover with foil and place in an oven pre-heated to around 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 for 15 minutes or less. The longer you leave them the less shape they will have to them. I followed the instructions on the BBC Good Food site and ended up with mush. It still worked well in the cake, though.
2. Next, butter and line a 23cm loose-bottomed or springform cake tin and pre-heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. You may wish to follow this instruction but I found that my cake began burning round the sides long before it was cooked in the middle. I have started heating the oven to gas mark 1, although our oven is very hot so this may equate to gas mark 2 or 3, maximum.
3. Keep back 3 tbsp of the custard in a bowl. Beat the rest of the custard together with the butter. Add the sifted flour and baking powder intermittently with the eggs to keep the mixture loose then add the vanilla and sugar until creamy and smooth. Spread the tin with a layer of batter, then a dotted layer of fruit and some splodges of custard and keep doing this until you run out of fruit/cutard/batter. Try to keep some fruit back to dot on top of the cake before putting in the oven.
4. Bake for 15 mins then cover with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes more. This is one of my tweaks to try and stop it burning round the sides before the middle is done. You make wish to follow the original recipe and see if it works better for you. It's ready when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin, then cover with icing sugar. Very tasty with a dollop of creme fresh and a cup of tea.

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