Monday, 5 March 2012

Rhubarb caramel cake

You know yesterday, when I was banging on about how great spring was? Yeah, well you can all blame my cockiness for the horrendous gale which is going on outside right now.  I took the eiderdown off the bed, I got carried away, I'm sorry. 

Now, doesn't this sort of weather make you crave lots of nutrients and omega threes and healthy stuff to stave off the inevitable spring cold? Does it fuck - it makes you want cake.  So here one is.  And it's got rhubarb in it, so that's your five a day done and dusted.  Plus the icing alone will provide a useful layer of lard around your waist, pretty much immediately, so if you'd got carried away and switched the central heating off too, this is not only tasty but also V practical.

Before we get started, a couple of notes about cake making and me.  Firstly, and this applies to all my recipes, you will notice I switch between metric, imperial and the cup system.  To be honest I don't even know which one is metric and which is imperial, but I remember different recipes in different denominations, so you'll just have to work it out (or use your scales, they'll tell you both).

Secondly - a few things which will give most cake snobs heart palpitations.
1. I think when it comes to cakes, Stork is better than butter.  And as someone who has made A LOT of cakes I feel qualified to put this argument out there. 
2. Creaming butter and sugar and sifting flour is a massive, pointless, ball ache.  Shove it all in the mixer, give it a good spin, and voila.  You will have exactly the same cake and half the washing-up. 
3. I don't like Mary Berry.

Let's move on...

Rhubarb caramel cake

For the cake
3 free range eggs (yes they must be free range, otherwise there is a high chance the cake will spontaneously combust, or become fatally poisonous, or come to life.  Do as you're told.)
5 oz self-raising flour
1 oz ground almonds (replace this with an extra oz of flour if you don't have almonds, or are allergic)
6oz golden caster sugar
6 oz stork
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 sticks of rhubarb
1 lemon (juice of half and zest of whole)

For the icing
1 cup double cream
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
Hazelnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chop your rhubarb into roughly one inch pieces.  Cook briefly in a pan with a spoonful of sugar and the juice of half a lemon, until softened slightly. 

Bung the stork, eggs, flour, sugar, vanilla extract, ground almonds and lemon zest into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.  Then fold in the rhubarb with a spoon. 

Grease a baking tin and spoon in the mixture.  You can use whatever small shape tin you want, the one I used was about 9" wide x 5" deep. Bake at gas mark 3 for about 45 mins -1 hour, checking regularly (but not in the first 20 mins, or it will flop).  To check if it's done, you want it to be firm to the touch and for a fork to come out without any mixture on. Turn out to cool.

When your cake is cooled, make the icing.  Put your cream, sugar and extract in a heavy bottomed pan and boil. Now, many recipes will tell you that you need a sugar thermometer.  I don't have a sugar thermometer, so my advice to you is to just boil the shit out of it.  It needs to bubble away for a good five minutes, stirring throughout and keeping an eye that it doesn't catch or start to get very dark.  You want all the sugar to be thoroughly dissolved and when you dip in a spoon and let it cool, the sauce should stick and go thick.  Once you think you've got it, take of the heat and leave for a minute, so that all the manic bubbling stops.  If it's still looking a bit thin you can shove it back on the heat.

Spoon over the cake carefully, so you get the right balance of messy Vs artful splotheriness.  Top wth nuts, allow to set, then stuff your face.

As an additional piece of advice; if you're busy photographing said cake, stay aware of your surroundings, or some stealth character might sneak up on you. 

Reminds me of this wiseguy.

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