Monday 6 February 2012

Pretty in Pink

I am not a great romantic and Valentines day is the most abhorrent day of all to me.  It makes me cringe, just thinking about it. It smacks of everything I dislike. An exploited, commercial opportunity which seems to focus on making as much money as possible out of peoples complete lack of imagination and originality.   Why on earth would I want a bunch of dodgy overpriced, cheap Dutch roses or worse still, a nasty box of chocolates.  Worse still, is the thought of going out to dinner on Valentines day.  Massively over-inflated prices, in packed restaurants, desperately trying to get rid of you so they can turn your table.  In my last restaurant, The Vale, the bookings would start flooding in as early as the first week of January and we would be booked to bursting before February began, with a waiting list as long as my arm.  The whole dining room would have to be completely recreated to accommodate endless tables of two, who would whisper all night and gaze at each other adoringly.  Please don't get me wrong.  I am not bitter.  I am very happily settled with my Hughie.  We try to love each other every day, all year.  O.K. -" try to" may be the operative word but at least it is not on one allotted day a year, in a forced show of over-sentimental emotion.  

What does fill me with passion about February however is the first of the forced Rhubarb. I love it with its mouth-watering sourness, which when balanced with something sweet is just sensational. I also adore it's beautiful, deep and luscious colour. So as soon as I saw it for sale, I just had to have some and I had my heart set on a cake but what sort to choose?  I am bit particular about my flavour pairings with my rhubarb.  Whilst many lean towards orange and ginger, I feel that they are too distracting in flavour and I will only match vanilla or almonds with mine.  Secondly, I was determined that this cake should fully exploit the rhubarbs beautiful colour.  Thirdly I am particularly fond of the sort of cakes that you can serve as a pudding, with a big dollop of clotted cream or a jug of custard.  Eventually I amalgamated about five different recipes together and came up with this Upside-down Rhubarb, Almond and Vanilla Cake and I have to say, I was pretty enamoured with the result.  The rhubarb gently stews in it's own juices and ever so slightly begins to caramelise.  Quite delicious!

In fact, I was so infatuated with it, I entered it for Tea Time Treats over at What Kate Baked. Well it is pink!

Rhubarb, Almond and Vanilla Upside-down Cake

400g pink rhubarb
150g golden caster sugar
130g dark Muscovado Sugar
150g unsalted butter,softened
3 large eggs, beaten
110g  self-raising flour
110g ground almonds
135g (1/2 cup)  sour cream

1 tsp of Vanilla Bean Paste
pinch salt
Spring-form cake tin with a diameter of 24cm and a depth of 6cm, greased, sides and base lined with one piece of baking parchment

Serves: 8
Cut  the rhubarb into 1cm slices and toss them, in a bowl, with the caster sugar.
Tip into your tin and scatter evenly.

Preheat the oven to 170C, 325F, gas mark 3.
Cream together the butter and Muscovado sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs.  Don't worry if it curdles.  Fold in the flour, almonds, vanilla and sour cream. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth on top of the rhubarb, making sure it is evenly covered.  Bake in the oven for about 3/4 hour or until the cake is firm to a light touch in the centre. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before loosening around the edges with a knife and turning out either onto a serving plate or a wire rack to finish cooling.
This is good served with some custard, clotted cream or vanilla ice cream.


  1. That's just a stunning looking cake! Like you, I love cakes that have a failry dense texture that you can eat as a pudding. This one looks pretty close to perfect to me. I have rhubarb growing in the garden in the summer, and I can't wait. In fact I might toddle off to the farmer's market this weekend to see if I can find some forced rhubarb!

  2. I love rhubarb and this is just amazing. Scrummy. If I get forgotten about on Valentines day, I'm making this and eating the lot.

  3. How amazing looking is this cake! Look so lovely! :)

  4. This is too beautiful - will it be my valentine of 2013? ;)

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