Rhubarb and custard is a classic English flavor combination. It is that taste of sweet and tart which is unbeatable in desserts. I do love some stewed rhubarb with hot, sweet custard and I also love rhubarb & custard sweets so when I made a custard cake there was only one thing going in it.
I am posting this recipe mainly to share the custard cake. It is a versatile & easy recipe which is handy to have on hand for birthdays and such. My sister Kate is a fantastic baker. She hates cooking but she can knock up a cake, biscuits or a tart like a pro. She has those pastry hands and makes the lightest most delicious shortcrust. Her raspberry & custard cake is legendary. Here I have swapped the raspberry for rhubarb but any tangy fruit would be great.
Kate got the recipe from a Nigella Lawson book. I think she paired the custard with toffee in the original & here tops it with chcoclate. I reckon that would be incredibly sweet & on the right day I would probably munch a massive slice of it but generally would prefer something to balance the sweetness of the custard.
I made the rhubarb decorations mainly for practice so I am going to include them in the recipe but they are not necessary. The main thing is the custard sponge and the custard frosting – they are soooo good. I left the poached rhubarb in the center with a little bite to keep it whole and with a sharp flavour.
Rhubarb & Custard Cake
225g soft butter
200g caster sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g plain flour
3 tbsp custard powder
2-3 tbsp milk
You will need 2 greased, lined 8 inch sandwich tins. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
1. Nigella uses a food processor & just mixes everything except the milk & then slowly add enough milk to make the mixture soft & droopy. I dont have one so I made it the old school way by creaming the bitter & sugar & then adding the rest of the ingredients one by one.
2. Divide the mixture into the two prepared tins and bake for about 20 minutes. The mixture should just be staring to come away from the sides of the tin.
125g icing sugar
4 tsp custard powder
75g unsalted butter
1 tsp boiling water
1. Make sure the butter is soft then add the custard powder & icing sugar. Use a fork or mixer to blend them together.
2. Once the butter & sugars are creamed check the consistency. If it is really stiff then add the hot water. The frosting should be fairly soft or it is difficult to spread onto the sponge.
6 stalks rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
To make the poached rhubarb for the filling.
Put the water & sugar in a saucepan over a low heat to dissolve the sugar. Bring up to a simmer.
2. Cut 3 stalks of rhubarb into pieces about an inch long. Once the sugar syrup is simmering add the rhubarb.
3. Keep a close eye on the fruit as it cooks gently. It should only take about 5 minutes to soften but not lose its shape, it is nice to leave a little bite in there for texture. Remove from the syrup and onto a plate to cool. Sprinkle sugar over.
For the rhubarb topping.
1. Cut the remaining stalks of rhubarb into 2-3 inch lengths. Then cut these lengthways into 2mm thick slices.
2. In batches poach them in the sugar syrup. They should only take 1-2 minutes to soften. Lift them gently out onto a plate or board to cool, they need to cool flat and straight.
To assemble the cake, without the topping just place the frosting on the base, add the fruit (drain off as much of the syrup as possible) and place the top sponge on, easy!If your sponge gets a little overcooked and feels dry you can use the leftover rhubarb flavoured syrup to moisten up the sponge. It might need boiling down to thicken a little but it will give a lovely moistness and taste to the cake.