Almond cake with rhubarb
As spring comes to a close, a slice of almond cake with a little poached rhubarb seems like the perfect way to celebrate the end of the rhubarb session. I made this almond cake almost a month ago and served it alongside forced rhubarb, which cooked down to a beautiful jewel pink. It would work equally well with the last of the season’s field rhubarb.
Toasted almonds give the cake a wonderful depth of flavour, as well as giving the cake a lovely moistness. The cake could also take on a more middle eastern vibe, by replacing the toasted almonds with toasted pistachios and by adding a little rosewater to the poached rhubarb.
Makes an eight inch cake
100g or three and a half oz whole skin on almonds
225g or eight oz unsalted butter
225g or eight oz caster sugar
four large free range eggs
30g plain flour
135g or four and three quarter oz ground almonds
a teaspoon of baking powder
a pinch of salt
three tablespoons of clear honey
Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan oven)/ 180°C/ 350 Fahrenheit/ Gas Mark 4 and line a loose bottomed 8 inch cake tin with baking parchment, using a little of the butter.
Firstly, lightly toast the whole almonds in a dry pan over a moderate heat, until fragrant and a few shades darker. Finely chop the toasted almonds.
For the almond cake, cream together the sugar and butter until pale and slightly fluffy. Next, gradually add each egg, thoroughly stirring and scraping down the bowl to prevent the mixture from curdling. If you are worried the mix is about to curdle, add a small handful of the flour. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, chopped toasted almonds and the salt and then gently fold this into the cake mixture. Stir in the honey and lemon zest.
Pour this into the prepared cake tin and smooth over the top. Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for around an hour, or until a skewer comes out from the centre of the cake clean. Allow the cake to cool in its tin.
For the poached rhubarb
three sticks of rhubarb
a blood orange
a tablespoon of caster sugar or vanilla sugar
Turn the oven down to 100°C / 225 Fahrenheit/ Gas Mark one quarter
Cut the rhubarb into one inch pieces. Wash and shake dry. Place the rhubarb chunks into a roasting tin. Zest the orange and then cut into thick slices. Add the orange slices to the rhubarb, along with the caster sugar. Take a piece of greaseproof paper large enough to cover the roasting tin, scrunch it up and thoroughly soak the paper under a running tap. Cover the rhubarb with the wet paper and bake for around forty minutes.
Check the rhubarb regularly by giving it a stir and re-wetting the paper if it becomes dry. You are looking for the rhubarb to become tender but still hold its shape. It’s better to slightly under cook the rhubarb.
Serve a slice of the almond cake together with a little of the rhubarb, a dollop of yogurt and a cup of tea