Many visitors to the farm, especially during the Winter and Spring months cannot help but be amazed at the proliferation of rhubarb on the farm which grows with gusto. Besides being a wonderful vegetable that Antonio uses in many a recipe, it has an added bonus on the farm – the leaves make a terrific compost material as well as a useful herbal tea which you can spray on your garden plants to ward off pests, such as caterpillars, aphids and slaters.
For the many who have visited the farm in the past and enjoyed Antonio’s Rhubarb Custard Cake, here is the secret recipe which will enable you to recreate it at home.
Makes 10 – 12 Serves
Ingredients – roasted rhubarb
8-10 firm rhubarb stakes
50 grams of sugar
Ingredients – patisserie cream (French custard)
½ cup corn flour
½ cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2½ cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla essence/extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Ingredients – cake batter
250g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g golden caster sugar
250 grams butter (softened and cut into cubes)
200 mls of the patisserie cream or custard (from above)
1. Prepare the rhubarb by washing it thoroughly and trimming it, then cut into generous finger length pieces.
2. Place the pieces on a baking tray which has been lined with baking paper and sprinkle with the sugar.
The tray needs to be large enough to hold the rhubarb in a single layer.
3. Stir the rhubarb in the sugar so it gets coated over and then spread the pieces to be a single layer.
4. Cover the tray with aluminium foil and place into a pre-heated oven at 180 C and bake for 15 minutes.
5. Remove tray from oven, remove the foil and return uncovered rhubarb to the oven for a further 5 minutes of cooking. The tray of roasted rhubarb can then be removed from oven and allowed to cool completely.
6. Next prepare the patisserie cream (custard) by placing the sugar, egg yolks and corn flour into a bowl and mixing them well so they combine.
7. Gradually add milk to the bowl, stirring the contents continuously to prevent lumps from forming before transferring the bowl contents to a heavy based pot
8. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and place on the stove at a low to medium heat.
9. Stir the liquid continuously as it heats and cooks. It will gradually thicken and become a rich custard cream. The patisserie’s cream is cooked when it is thick enough to coat the stirring spoon with a generous layer of cream.
If at any point during the cooking process you see large lumps forming, it means that the heat is too high and you need to turn it down. You can generally remove any lumps which form in the cream by taking the pot off the heat and stir it vigorously with your stirring spoon or using hand whisk.
Before you can commence to create the cake batter needed for this cake, you need to split the patisserie cream made above into three parts:
– half the mixture (approximately 1 cup) should be set aside to be re-heated later when ready to serve the cake.
– from the remainder, remove 4 tablespoons of the cream and place it into a small bowl for use during the construction of the cake and the leftover should be approximately 200 mls or just under a cup. If more than 200 mls place the excess in the reheating container for later use.
10. Place the 200 mls of patisserie cream into the pot it was made in, add the butter and stir the two together so they combine. If the cream is sufficiently warm – the butter should melt and combine easily but if not place, the pot on the stove top and heat gently until they are fully combined. Then allow to cool.
To Construct the Cake
11. Firstly, butter a 23 cm springform tin and dust it with flour so as to prevent the cake from sticking to the tin during cooking.
12. Then into a bowl, place the flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs and vanilla and mix to create a smooth paste free of any lumps.
13. Add the custard/butter mixture to the bowl and combine the ingredients to create a smooth batter.
14. You are now ready to build the cake. Place a ⅓ of the cake batter into the base of the tine and arrange a third of the rhubarb over the surface.
15. Then take some of the set aside patisserie cream and dollop it over the rhubarb and cake batter’s surface.
16. Repeat steps 14 and 15 with the second and last thirds of the cake mix, the remaining rhubarb and the pure patisserie cream.
17. Smooth over the upper surface of the cake if it is very uneven and place into a pre-heated oven at 180ᵒ C and bake for 40 minutes.
18. After 40 minutes has expired, remove cake from oven and cover the upper surface of the tin with aluminium foil to prevent the cake from getting too brown. Return to oven and bake for a further 20 – 25 minutes.
19. The cake is cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
20. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing the spring-form tin.
21. When ready to serve, re-heat the set aside custard, slice the cake into wedges and place in serving bowls before pouring some of the warmed custard over the surface. Dust with icing sugar and if you like garnish with some sliced fruit.
Often, I will add dollops of jam (generally strawberry, raspberry or cherry) into the cake as it is being constructed to give it extra flavour – this is a personal choice.
You can use other fruit in the cake as long as it doesn’t have too much water.