Rhubarb Custard Cake

IMG_3646RECIPE: I made this cake more than ten years ago and couldn’t for the life of me remember where the recipe had come from. I searched my books, looked online and found nothing. Finally, this month while I was searching for cake recipes for my husband’s many 50th birthday celebrations, I found it and I baked it and it was every bit as good as I remembered. It would be possible to replace the custard made with custard powder with an egg custard made from scratch – probably a thick crème pâtissière with some gelatine added to stop it running out of the cake. An updated recipe is online at Women’s Weekly Food that is almost exactly the same recipe. It adds custard powder to the cake mix; I suspect because instead of cooking the rhubarb with water and sugar first, the rhubarb is added raw. It also adds pear and an apricot jam glaze. I’ve provided the recipe for this one because I think these are good improvements.

PREPARATION: This is a pretty easy cake. The cake mix is quick to pull together, just have your butter softened and ready to use. The custard cooks very quickly, make sure you keep stirring and watching it because it can very suddenly overcook and stick to the bottom of your pan (like my first batch did!). The pan needs to be carefully lined. I’d even consider double-lining to stop the edges browning so much. I’ve made this cake twice recently, and the first time there was a line of instability between the bottom and top. I found that spreading some mix over the bottom of the pan and scraping it up the sides of the pan is better so there’s cake holding the filling in. It’s fairly stiff so this is possible. Dollop on the custard and add the fruit, then spread over the rest of the cake mix. You’ll still get a clean skewer when you’re testing it’s baked, despite the custard.

IMPRESSION: Perfect cake for people (like my husband) that don’t like chocolate cake or icing or other embellishments. The rhubarb and custard makes the cake moist and it’s a pleasure to eat. So happy to add this to the list of ‘approved’ cakes for my husband!

Recipe from Women’s Weekly Country Cooking Cookbook – an updated version is also online for Rhubarb and Pear Custard Cake

Rhubarb and Pear Custard Cake (Australian measures)

125 gram butter, softened
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup (225g) self-raising flour
1/2 cup (60g) almond meal
2 tablespoon custard powder
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
3 trimmed stalks (250g) rhubarb, sliced
1 pear (330g), peeled, sliced thinly
1/2 cup (180g) apricot jam, warmed, strained

2 tablespoon custard powder
2 tablespoon caster sugar
1 cup (250ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
20 gram unsalted butter

Position oven shelves; preheat oven to moderate. Grease deep 22cm-round cake pan; line base and side with baking paper. For custard, combine custard powder and sugar in small saucepan; using wooden spoon, gradually stir in milk. Stir over heat until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat, add vanilla and butter; stir until butter melts. Cover surface of custard completely with plastic wrap to prevent skin forming; cool to room temperature while you continue with the rest of the cake (do not refrigerate as mixture will not be spreadable).

Beat butter and sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy; add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Using wooden spoon, stir in flour, almond meal, custard powder and milk. Spread half of the cake mixture into prepared pan, top with half of the rhubarb and pear. Spread custard over fruit; spread remaining cake mixture over custard, top with remaining rhubarb and pear. Bake cake in moderate oven about 1 hour. Stand cake 5 minutes then turn onto wire rack; turn top-side up, brush top with warm jam. Cool.

Large firm strawberries can be sliced lengthways and substituted for the rhubarb; apple or nashi can be substituted for the pear; or a combination of any of these fruits (including the rhubarb) can be used. Any jam can be substituted for apricot jam. Warm jam in the microwave oven for about 30 seconds on HIGH (100%); strain while warm. Any ground nuts can be substituted for almond meal; use a blender or processor to grind nuts finely. Cake will keep for 1 day in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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