Rhubarb and ginger crumble cake

I am not the greatest fan of rhubarb, so finding ways to use up the allotment rhubarb we inherited years ago is a particular challenge for me. However, I do love this particular cake, which I always make around this time of year when my rhubarb is prolific. As an extra bonus, this cakes takes moments to “throw together” before getting baked.

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This rather homely looking cake is a handed-d0wn recipe that I have adapted slightly over the years: it was one of those recipes that I have in abundance, scribbled on yellowing paper and tucked in the back of books that just needed to be written up – and tried out!

In this cake, sharp bursts of rhubarb, the gentle heat of stem ginger pieces, all set in a delicately spiced and very moist cake, topped with crunchy crumble topping makes me more of a rhubarb convert. And whenever I have made it for people who love their rhubarb, it has been devoured very quickly indeed: which is the best compliment that can be given!

Which topping?

I alternate between the toppings when I make this cake:

Sometimes I go just for a quick and easy gingery sugar topping that gets spinkled on the cake as it cooks, going slightly caramelised.

Or I go for a crumble topping that gets spinkled on the baked cake. There are crumble cakes where the crumble gets baked on top of the cake mixture, but I cook the crumble topping separately here, often making a multiple batch and storing what I don’t use in an air-tight jar: hand sprinkled on all manner of desserts!

Mind you, I have been known to use both toppings for this cake: and a particular favourite is to pour a little of the stem ginger syrup over the baked cake, all over the sugary topping – which then goes gorgeously sticky, followed by a generous sprinkling of the crumble topping for a buttery crunch.

Going gluten-free?

I often make this cake into a gluten-free cake, simply replacing the flour in the recipe with a good gluten-free flour: I use Dove’s flour.

Rhubarb & Ginger Cake (makes one 10″ cake – or two 7″ cakes)

For the cake

  • 80g unsalted butter, softened
  • 300g soft brown sugar (or a mixture of soft brown and demerara)
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 250ml crème fraîche or natural yoghurt (low-fat works well)
  • 300g self-raising flour (or gluten-free SRflour)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 400g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into small pieces (about 1cm)
  • 8 pieces stem ginger, drained and chopped roughly

For A sugar topping

  • 70g soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For A crumble topping

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g soft brown or caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour (or gluten-free flour)
  • 30g walnuts or almond flakes, crushed
  • a couple of tablespoons of stem ginger syrup from the jar

(1) Preheat the oven to 170C(fan) and butter and base-line a deep 10″ tin with greaseproof – if going for one large cake. I often make two 7″ cakes from this mixture: great to have one in the house and to give one away!

(2) Put the sugars, butter, eggs and crème fraîche into a large bowl and beat until well combined. Sift the flour and the spices and mix in gently until incorporated without over-beating.

(3) Stir in the rhubarb and stem ginger and spoon into the tin(s). If going for a sugar topping, mix the sugar topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the top of the cake mixture.

(4) Bake for about 50 minutes (regardless of the size tin) and then cover with a sheet of foil for the remainder of the cooking: for a 10″ cake, continue to cook for another 30-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. For the 7″ cakes, cook for about 15 more minutes.

(5) Leave to cool fully in the tin.

(6) For a crumble topping, put the ingredients into a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Spoon onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof and bake for about 20 minutes at 170C until light golden, forking the mixture around from time to time. Leave to cool on the tray, during which time it will crisp up. Spoon the syrup over the top of the cake and let it seep in a little. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the cake.

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Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking & eating.

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