A light shortcake base topped with rhubarb and custard with a crumble topping. This not too sweet cake is a perfect treat. Serve with morning coffee, afternoon tea or as a dessert.
There is something really special about the first harvest of the year that I bring back from my little city allotment. My plot is quite small (allotment is rather a grand name) but given to how close I Live to The City I’m really grateful to have it. It is large enough to grow a good selection of summer fruits which it is almost entirely given over to. A few herbs and maybe a salad crop are the only other goodies I grow.
The first harvest is almost always rhubarb. It has a long growing season and my two clumps work hard for their space. Giving me a harvest week after week in spring and early summer. It slows down at the peak of summer and then a few more harvests early autumn. I don’t have too long to wait for the following years crop, but long enough to really look forward to its arrival.
So last week after Mr B had made a visit to the allotment for some weeding and came back with a large bundle, it was time to get to work in the kitchen on our first crop. I made some Rhubarb Cordial, a Rhubarb and Gin Curd (recipe coming soon) and this rather delicious Rhubarb and Custard Crumble Cake.
Rhubarb Custard Crumble Cake, Tart or Flan?
What’s in a name? Most recipes I write tend to have a really obvious name but I pondered this one for a while to decide what to call it. Was it a cake or was it a tart or flan. Here in the UK, we tend to think of cake as something that is basically a sponge cake in some form. If a dish has a pastry case and a filling then we tend to think of it as a flan or tart.
This crumble cake falls somewhere between the two. The base and sides are more like shortcake than pastry but it doesn’t have a sponge. It is not a tart or flan either, which tend to have a very distinct filling from the pastry case. I guess in some ways it’s a bit like a cheesecake, that doesn’t have a sponge but we still call it cake. So on that note, I decided Cake it is!
Warm or Cold?
I haven’t tried it this way yet but I suspect this cake would also be really good eaten while slightly warm although I am sure it would not cut into nice neat slices as it does when fully cold. It would probably have to be eaten more as a dessert, in a bowl with a fork or spoon. Next time I’m going to try it that way for sure and there definitely will be a next time as we loved it. I will try remember to report back.
I really like it cold from the fridge. I’ve been treating myself with my morning coffee. It’s not overly sweet which suits me. Though if you have a sweet tooth you may want to add an extra tablespoon or two to the custard.
Step by Step Rhubarb and Custard Crumble Cake
The Shortcake Base
Easy to make, you start off creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy before beating in an egg as you would for a cake. Next beat in the yogurt. Don’t worry if it looks a little curdled at this point it will be fine.
Next add the flour all in one and mix to a soft dough. As the dough is sticky it is hard to roll out like pastry without adding too much flour. Instead pat about two-thirds of the dough out into a flat circle with a lightly floured hand and place in the base of the cake tin and then press it out with your finger tips until it has lined the whole of the base and 2-3 cm (about 1in) up the side of the tin. Pop the remaining dough into the freezer or ice box of the refrigerator until required,
Rhubarb is packed with vitamins and minerals and is a good source of fibre. Wash and trim the stalks, discarding the leaves which are poisonous. Cut the stalks into 1cm (1/2in) slices. If the stalks are very thick cut them in half lengthways first. Spread out on top of the shortcake base and pop the whole thing in the fridge while making the custard.I don’t find any need to add extra sugar as I think the base and custard give enough.
The custard is made with custard powder. Mix the custard powder, sugar and a little of the milk to a smooth paste. I wanted a vanilla flavour to come through so I then added 2 tsp vanilla extract. Heat the remaining milk until almost boiling then pour into the custard powder mixture whisking all the time before returning it to the pan and cooking over a low heat stirring constantly until thickened. Pour over the rhubarb and spread level.
The Crumble Topping
Take the remaining dough out of the freezer and break into small pieces and scatter over the top of the custard to give the crumble layer. If the dough is hard enough you can grate the dough over the top instead.
Bake for 50 minutes until the cake is set and golden. Allow to cool.
Rhubarb and Custard Crumble Cake
for the shortcake
- 250 g butter softened, plus extra to grease (9oz)
- 150 g golden caster sugar (5oz)
- 1 large egg
- 4 tbsp natural yogurt
- 350 g plain flour plus extra for dusting (12oz)
- 1 tsp baking powder
for the rhubarb and custard layer
- 500 g rhubarb cut into 1cm (½in) slices (1lb2oz)
- 100 g custard powder (4oz)
- 50 g golden caster sugar (2oz)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 litre milk (1¾ pt)
- icing sugar to dust
To make the shortcake
- Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well, then add the yogurt and beat again. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and mix to form a soft dough.
- Preheat the oven to 180℃ (160℃ fan)/350°F/gas mark 6. Butter a 25cm (10in) Springclip pan and then dust with flour. Take about 1/3 of the dough, wrap and pop in the freezer or ice bix of the refrigerator. With lightly floured hands, shape the remaining into a circle. Place in the bottom of the tin,, then use your fingers to press the dough out so that it covers the base and goes 2-3 cm (about 1in) up the side of the tin.
- Spread the rhubarb out over the dough and chill in the refrigerator while making the custard.
To make the custard
- Mix the custard powder, sugar and vanilla extract with a little of the milk until smooth. Heat the remaining milk in a saucepan until almost boiling. Then gradually whisk into the custard powder mixture.
- Return the custard to the pan and cook over a low heat stirring constantly until thickened.
- Pour the custard over the rhubarb and spread level. Take the reserved dough out of the freezer or icebox and either grate or break into small bits and sprinkle over the top of the custard.
- Bake for 45 – 50 Minutes until golden. Allow to cool completely. Sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.
- 25cm (10in) spring clip cake tin
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