Rhubarb Jewel Cake



Each time I visit the green grocers at the moment I linger by the sugar pink rhubarb stems like a shy teenager. I love rhubarb, even though it means sugar, which I don't love. Unsweetened rhubarb can be used almost like lemon juice, even served with fish or added to a rich Persian meatball stew with a sprinkle of rosewater. But when I see it lying there pinkly, all I want is to smother it in sweetness and scarf it down with a generous dollop of the richest cream I can find.

This week I succumbed to desire and bought some of the most luminous stalks I have ever seen, pale cloud colour at the tip and the deepest cerise at the root. I wanted to include them in some sort of cake and thought I would try using them to punctuate a rich sponge, rather than cooking the rhubarb down to a pulp. I wanted to see those pink pieces when the cake was cut.

Now I also wanted you to see them, as that cake looked pretty fine, but when I came to download the pictures only that of the cut rhubarb you see above, was left on the camera. Nick had unwisely emptied the camera trash before a site visit - without consulting me,
'you didn't have anything precious on there did you?' he asked on his return, with not a little trepidation.
'nothing worth worrying about my darling!' I cooed whilst sprinkling salt in his coffee.....

Rhubarb Jewel Cake serves 6-8

8oz pink rhubarb
5oz palm sugar
3oz softened butter
2 large eggs
4oz ground almonds
2oz tapioca starch (or arrowroot)
1oz quinoa flour
1oz fine polenta
1tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
Juice of 1 small orange or 2 clementines
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 160C fan assisted (170C without) and generously butter and line the bottom of an 8 inch deep sided cake tin.

Chop the rhubarb into 1/2 cm slices and put it into a glass or china bowl with half of the palm sugar. Mix to coat and leave for 10 minutes before starting the cake.

Cream the butter with the remaining palm sugar. Beat the eggs together in a separate bowl and beat into the butter mixture a little at a time. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a teaspoonful of the quinoa flour between each addition of eggs.

Sift all the dry ingredients together and fold gently into the butter mixture until just incorporated.

Lastly, add the juice, vanilla extract and rhubarb to the mix and fold again to incorporate. Spoon into the tin and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the top is springy to the touch and pale golden brown. Cool in the tin on a wire rack and unmold when cool. Serve with some cream on the side or a vanilla flecked crème anglaise or simply eat as it is with a nice cup of fragrant earl grey.