Sunday, 26 May 2013

Rhubarb and custard cake

Rhubarb and custard cake

I’m not much of a gardener, in fact that’s not true – I’m really not a gardener at all. I’m good at wandering around a garden centre and picking out what to grow and pretty pots to grow it in – then it is over to EHH (Ever Hungry Husband – for those who haven’t been following from the start!), who is in charge of planting and general care! Our garden is very much a work in progress so, at the moment, we are mostly sticking to things that can be grown in pots – ideally edible things! Last year’s effort was a bit of a spectacular failure – the never ending rain and general miserable-ness meant that pretty much everything refused to grow – except the rhubarb! Rhubarb seems to love damp and miserable conditions and grew like crazy!

This year, we haven’t even touched the rhubarb – it had just been left from last year, and again, it has sprung up and produced beautiful long red stalks and huge leaves. So, time to start digging out the rhubarb recipes! I absolutely love rhubarb and you really can’t go far wrong with a traditional rhubarb crumble with custard, or simple stewed rhubarb on porridge in the mornings. Looking back, my first blog post was about rhubarb crumble muffins! However, this time, I decided to have a go at a new recipe that I found on the internet: rhubarb and custard cake.

The recipe itself is very simple and (other than the rhubarb) the ingredients are fairly standard stock cupboard ingredients. You can get on with making the cake whilst the rhubarb is cooking.

Unfortunately, there is something about this recipe that just didn’t quite work. It cooked perfectly in the given time – the texture was soft and moist and the general flavour great. However, the custard powder could still be tasted and left a very dry taste and texture in the mouth, which ruined the overall taste of the cake. This won’t be a recipe that I will try again – there are lots more rhubarb (and custard) cake recipes out there to try (including this crumble cake recipe that I made a few weeks ago and I'm sure would adapt well to rhubarb - possibly with strawberries) – and from the way that my rhubarb is growing, I’ll have lots of opportunities to try them out!

Rhubarb and custard cake


  1. 200g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into small pieces
  2. 50g demerera sugar
  3. 150g caster sugar
  4. 150g sunflower spread
  5. 3 eggs
  6. 100g SR flour
  7. 100g ground almonds
  8. 1/2 tsp almond essence
  9. 60g custard powder
  10. 25g flaked almonds
  11. 1 tbs icing sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Line the bottom of 20cm loose bottomed baking tin with baking parchment (or use a liner if you have one).
    Place the rhubarb and Demerara sugar in a pan with a tight fitting lid, cover and cook on a med/low heat for 7 mins or until just cooked, stirring occasionally.
  3. Cream the spread and caster sugar until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time with 1 tbsp flour with each egg. Beat well after adding each egg.
  5. Fold in the flour, ground almonds, almond essence and custard powder.
  6. Loosely fold in cooked rhubarb.
  7. Spoon into the prepared tin.
  8. Scatter over flaked almonds and bake for 45-50 mins.
    Allow to cool in tin.
  9. Once cool, remove from tin and dust with icing sugar.

Chocolate and raspberry gateau

Chocolate and raspberry gateau topped with raspberries and chocolate-dipped strawberries

As part of a friend’s vintage/retro themed hen party, we had all been asked to bring a contribution to an afternoon tea party. In order to avoid hundreds of cupcakes / bottles of sparkly, we’d been allocated an item to bring. I mentioned that I was happy to bake and so was allocated chocolate cake. Except, I’ve never really made chocolate cake! As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really a fan of chocolate or of chocolate cake and so I just don’t tend to make it!

Having scanned through my ever-reliable source of inspiration – Flickr – I’d been inspired by impressive looking Kitkat-surrounded gateaux and made the decision to have a go at one of these. Next decision – which of the many thousand chocolate cake recipes to follow? A few friends recommended Nigella’s Chocolate Fudge Cake and so I decided to go with my own amended version of that. As I’m not really into rich chocolate cake, I decided to add raspberries, strawberries and fresh cream to add a bit of tartness and lightness. If you wanted to stick with the very traditional chocolate fudge cake, you could fill the cake with a caramel-fudge sauce and top with a mixture of fudges and chocolate truffles – which could look equally impressive.  

Finding a bottle of raspberry liqueur in the cupboard, I decided to use that in the recipe in place of some of the water, and to omit the vanilla essence suggested. To keep the cake slightly lighter and more of a gateau than a rich chocolate fudge cake, I filled the cake with jam and fresh cream, rather than more of the (very rich) topping. For a bit of an indulgent twist, I watered the jam down with more of the raspberry liqueur, which also helped the filling soak into the sponge to keep it moist and full of flavour.

The great thing about adding the Kitkats to the edge of this cake is that you don’t need to worry about making the icing that neat – the Kitkats hide any imperfections brilliantly. You don’t have to dip the strawberries in chocolate to go on top, but I do think it adds a lovely touch!

I was feeling rather impressed with myself once the cake was complete – it looked fairly spectacular! Impressed, that is, until I arrived at my friend’s house only to find that I was a week early – the party isn’t until next week! Gutted. Anyone want a slice of chocolate cake …?

Edit - 2 June 2013

So - what happened to the cake? I was a bit worried as I made the cake on the Friday and neither of us were at work until Tuesday, and most of the local friends I would usually give cake to, were away for the long weekend! I checked the cream and its use-by was Wednesday - so figured the cake would be ok until Tuesday as long as it was kept in the fridge. I did take all the fruit off (as it would have gone off slightly by the Tuesday) and we ate this for dessert over the weekend. 

EHH and I cracked into the cake on the Sunday and it was actually really tasty! The texture was great - really moist and delicious and the raspberry filling really complemented the chocolate cake: the liqueur added a nice kick of flavour without overpowering. The only thing I wasn't that keen on was the chocolate icing - I found it a little over-sweet and actually not that chocolatey! EHH took the rest of the cake into his work on the Tuesday and was demolished fairly quickly! (Although there were a few complaints from my work that I hadn't taken it there!)

Chocolate and raspberry gateau


For the cake

  1. 400 grams plain flour
  2. 250 grams golden caster sugar
  3. 100 grams light brown muscovado sugar
  4. 50 grams best-quality cocoa powder
  5. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  6. 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  7. ½ teaspoon salt
  8. 3 large eggs
  9. 142 ml sour cream (1 small tub)
  10. 175 grams unsalted butter
  11. 125 ml corn oil
  12. 200 ml chilled water
  13. 100ml raspberry liqueur

For the icing

  1. 175 grams dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
  2. 250 grams unsalted butter (softened)
  3. 275 grams icing sugar (sifted)
  4. 1 tblsp raspberry liqueur

To fill

  1. 300ml double cream, whisked until spreadable
  2. 200g raspberry jam
  3. 4 tblsp raspberry liqueur

To decorate

  1. 21 double Kitkat chocolate bars
  2. 200g raspberries
  3. 400g strawberries
  4. 100g dark chocolate
  5. 100g white chocolate


  1. Place butter in a microwaveable bowl and microwave until melted (alternatively, melt in a saucepan over the hob). Set aside to cool.
  2. Put the water and raspberry liqueur in a jug and place in the fridge to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  4. Butter and line the bottom of two 20cm sandwich tins.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt.
  6. In another bowl or wide-necked measuring jug whisk together the eggs and sour cream until blended.
  7. Beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended, then beat in the water mixture.
  8. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed.
  9. Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins.
  10. Bake the cakes for 50-55 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean.
  11. Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.
 Preparing the chocolate dipped strawberries
  1. While the cakes are baking, melt the dark chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
  2. Melt the white chocolate in the same way.
  3. Dip some of the strawberries in the chocolate and set aside on a sheet of baking parchment.
  4. Place the remaining chocolate in a disposable piping bag and snip off the end of the bag.
  5. Pipe drizzles of chocolate onto some of the remaining strawberries and add these to the sheet of baking parchment.
  6. Leave some strawberries plain.
  7. Allow the chocolate to set and then pipe drizzles of the alternative chocolate onto both the dipped and the drizzled strawberries.
  8. Use any remaining chocolate to pipe chocolate shapes onto parchment paper
Assembling, icing and decorating the cake
  1. Place the jam in a bowl and mix with the liqueur.
  2. Cut each of the cooled cakes in half (easiest done with a cake levelling tool).
  3. Cover three of the cake halves with cream and then with jam.
  4. Place each cake half carefully on top of the others, finishing with the plain cake.
  5. Place the cake in the fridge to cool and set for at least 30 minutes.  
  6. While the cake is in  the fridge, make up the icing.
  7. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.
  8. In another bowl, beat the butter until it's soft and creamy.
  9. Add the sieved icing sugar and beat again until light and fluffy.
  10. Add the raspberry liqueur and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth. 
  11. When the cake is set and fairly firm, ice the top and sides, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula or palette knife.
  12. Separate the Kitkats into single bars and press firmly around the edge of the iced cake.
  13. Place in fridge again to set for at least 30 minutes.
  14. Once set, top with the raspberries, chocolate dipped strawberries, remaining strawberries and chocolate shapes.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Chocolate and raspberry brownies

Chocolate and raspberry brownies cooling on rack

Wow! It’s been ages since I last wrote a blog post! Don’t worry – I’ve been making and eating lot of cake in this time, just haven’t gotten around to writing it up!

So, going back a couple of weeks, a very good friend had just given birth to her first baby and so, of course, I wanted to make cake for her and her husband. They don’t live nearby and so I had to post the cake – so no cupcakes, or anything else delicate! I’d recently been given a chocolate and raspberry brownie recipe from a friend (strangely, I had cut out the exact same recipe from Good Food recently!) and so decided that this was the perfect opportunity to give it a go! The only thing that I changed to this recipe was the addition of 100g of white chocolate chunks - just to add an extra dimension!

I’m not much of a chocolate cake fan and I generally find brownies too rich, however, raspberries are just the perfect addition to brownies – they really cut through the richness. These brownies are definitely a treat – just try not to think about the amount of sugar, butter and chocolate in the recipe! They are very simple to make but do be careful of adding the eggs too early – you need to allow the melted chocolate mix to cool, otherwise the eggs will cook in the heat of the chocolate!

In the past, I have found brownies tricky – getting the outside crisp and the inside set but gooey! This gave me the perfect opportunity to dig out a baking tray that I hadn’t yet used (bought on impulse when Lakeland had a 3 for 2 offer on their baking tins!) – a Lakeland individual tray bake tin. A quick spray of cake release spray over the tin and it was ready to go. There was a reasonable amount of mixture that wouldn’t fit into the tray, and so I used this to fill some mini loaf cake cases and just popped these into the oven at the same time.     

As the brownies were in the individual traybake tin, I decided to reduce the baking time by 5 minutes and this turned out to be perfect – the brownies came out crisp on the outside and gooey inside – perfect! I left them to cool for a while in the tin and then eased them out and onto a cooling rack.

I wrapped these in clingfilm and popped them in a box and into the post for my friends. Annoyingly, despite paying first class postage, they didn’t arrive until 6 days later. She claimed that they were still delicious, however, whether they truly were, whether she was being kind, or whether she was in that early motherhood, sleep deprived state that meant that any cake was good cake, I’m not sure!  The one that I had, a couple of days after baking, was really tasty and a really good texture! I’ll definitely be making these again!   

Chocolate and raspberry brownies

    Individual chocolate and raspberry brownie
  1. 200g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
  2. 100g milk chocolate, broken into chunks
  3. 100g white chocolate, broken into chunks
  4. 250g pack salted butter
  5. 400g soft light brown sugar
  6. 4 large eggs
  7. 140g plain flour
  8. 50g cocoa powder
  9. 200g raspberries
  1. Heat oven to 170C.
  2. Line a 20 x 30cm baking tray tin with baking parchment OR spray an individual traybake tin with cake release spray.
  3. Put the dark and milk chocolate, butter and sugar in a pan and gently melt, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
  4. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  5. Stir the eggs, one by one, into the melted chocolate mixture.
  6. Sieve over the flour and cocoa, and stir in.
  7. Stir in half the raspberries and half of the white chocolate chunks, scrape into the tray, then scatter over the remaining raspberries and white chocolate.
  8. Bake on the middle shelf for 30 mins (25 if you are using the individual traybake tin) or, if you prefer a firmer texture, for 5 mins more.
  9. Leave in tin to cool before slicing into squares.
  10. Store in an airtight container.