‘Spring’ into Baking

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb – that’s what it sounds like when talking about my favourite thing to grow in the garden.  I love this time of year when the fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs are waking up – the old caveman instinct is to eat green and try new shoots.  Today in our garden the sap is rising and rhubarb is audibly creaking out of the ground. Checking under the cloches to see the tender new growth is very exciting – I’m like the Bisto kid imagining a wishful smell of freshly baked rhubarb goodies. Some of which I’ve popped below.  The new shoots are great with a dab of sugar on the open end and eaten raw so I have our much-loved tried and tested Rhubarb Mojito to share with you.  My mama is also quite partial – we first discovered this a few years ago on Mothers Day after spending the morning on our windswept North Norfolk beach then rallied home to sample the gardens finest offering.

Now let’s get cracking with that Mojito..

rhubarb mojito

rhubarb mojito

Single serving so increase quantities as per person.

2 large or 3 small stalks of rhubarb

2 tablespoons of sugar

4 leaves of mint

1/4 lime

60 ml white rum

Splash of soda water, maybe…

Method

Thinly slice the rhubarb and place it in a dish with the sugar – you can let it sit while you prep the other ingredients or put in the fridge overnight.  If you go for the fridge option (always my favourite) you still have the crunchy slices but additionally all this amazing rhubarb syrup, lovely on a spoon or add it to your Mojito for extra rhurbarbyness.

Put the rhubarb and mint in a shaker, squeeze in the lime and add the crushed wedge for good measure.  Fill with ice to the top and pour in the rum and rhubarb syrup if you have any left.  Shake really, REALLY well and pour into a tall glass, if you need a dash of soda water now is the time.  Sit back and admire one of Springs new shoots.

Also in the alcoholic vein, if you’re partial to a drop of easy peasy jujshing up of a bottle of Voddy, roll up, roll up….

rhubodka

‘Rhubodka’

1 x 1.75-litre bottle of vodka – bottom shelf cheap vodka is fine for this as you’re adding the natural beauty.
4-5 sticks of red rhubarb (not sour green)
1/3-1/2 cup sugar
A large jar with lid

Cut the rhubarb into 1/2″ to 1″ chunks.

Add everything to the jar and mix well, either by shaking the or stirring with a long-handled spoon.

Store in a cool, dark place. Shake or stir the jar daily.

That’s it.

The vodka will be ready in a month. Strain out the rhubarb and give it a taste test.

Rhubarb vodka can be added to:
• Tonic water
• Soda water
• Lemonade

rhubarb cake-0827

gluten free upside down rhubarb cake

This a little bit more ‘different stagey’ but worth it.  Also it’s in US measurements, if you don’t have cups here’s a whizzy conversion I use from Doves Farm

4 C* (cups) rhubarb, cut into ½ inch cubes ( about 1 ¼ lb)
1 1/4 cup sugar –divide                              4 tbsp butter
1 T fresh lemon juice                                   2 tsp vanilla extract divided
pinch salt
4 eggs, separated into 4 egg yolks and 4 egg whites, room temperature
zest from one lemon                                     ¼ teaspoon cardamom
1 1/2 cups ground almond flour              1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar           Icing sugar for sprinkling

instructions

Pre heat your oven to 375 F Oven (temperature converter from Doves too – they are most helpful!  You know what it’s like when you have cookery books and no idea what it is in ‘English’)

So over medium heat, melt butter in a pan, add rhubarb, ¾ cup sugar, lemon juice, 2 tsp vanilla and pinch salt and stir for 2 minutes, just until combined and sugar has dissolved. Turn heat off – don’t keep cooking the rhubarb, you do so at your peril, it will become soggy.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks with lemon zest, cardamom and ¼ cup sugar, until creamy and sugar has dissolved. Then whisk to combine almond flour, pinch salt, and baking powder.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir to incorporate. You will have a very thick heavy batter at this point.

In a mixer, whisk egg whites on medium high-speed, and once you see bubbles add a pinch of salt and tsp vinegar. Whip until egg whites have formed soft peaks then add remaining ¼ cup sugar a little at a time whipping until medium stiff peaks form. Turn speed to down to medium low and begin spooning in the flour – egg yolk batter, a heaping spoonful at a time, into the egg whites, until it is all combined, and scraping downs sides as necessary.

Pour batter over rhubarb in a spring form pan and place in a preheated oven for 30 minutes or so.  At 30 minutes, check for ‘doneness’ by inserting a skewer – If it comes out clean, it is done, if not, bake a bit longer. Pull from the oven and immediately, let it cool before removing sides and flipping onto a plate.

You are good to go with calories and cream, grab a fork and take a seat!

Prep time: 25 mins Cook time: 30 mins Total time: 55 mins Makes 6-8 servings

rhubarb cake-0783

Rhubarb curd

(from the ‘Beautiful Bakin’ Co’ aka BBC Good Food) We love this and it never hangs around long – I can’t wait until we have enough to whip up a batch. A bit lengthy but well worth the wait.

  • 600g forced rhubarb, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g butter, diced
  • 4 tsp cornflour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • splash of grenadine (optional)

Method

  1. Put the rhubarb in a blender or food processor and whizz until as fine as it will go. Set a sieve over a bowl, and tip in the rhubarb, pushing pulp with a wooden spoon to get through as much juice as you can.
  2. Add the eggs, butter, cornflour, sugar and 250ml rhubarb juice (save the rest) to a pan and set over a very low heat. Whisk until all the butter has melted, then, using a wooden spoon, stir constantly until the curd has thickened to a consistency a little thicker than custard. Don’t be tempted to increase the heat to speed up the process, as the eggs will curdle; make sure you stir right around the edge, too, as this is where it might catch first.
  3. Sieve the curd into a clean bowl to get rid of any eggy bits that may have curdled. Stir in 100ml more of the reserved juice and a small splash of grenadine if you would like your curd a bit pinker, before chilling. Once cold, taste – add a splash more rhubarb juice if it needs sharpening, then spoon into jars. The curd will keep, stored in the fridge, for up to a week. Eat on scones, crumpets or hot buttered toast, or dollop into sweet pastry cases to make mini curd tarts.

rhubarb ‘leather’

Super chewy, great for school pick-ups, long walks, fat free snacking…

500g rhubarb, washed and chopped into 1cm pieces (no need to peel) 3 tbsp honey (or, to taste)

Method

Combine the rhubarb and 80ml water in a saucepan then add the honey and bring to a simmer.

Cook until the rhubarb begins to soften then take off the heat to cool slightly.

Place in a blender and purée until smooth then pass through a fine-meshed sieve to remove any large pieces of skin (press down with the back of a spoon to get the most liquid out).

You should end up with about 500ml of purée.

rhurbarb

Now line a baking tray with heat-proof clingfilm (the kind you can microwave).

Note that an average baking tray (about 30cm x 42cm) will hold about 500ml of purée.

Add the purée to the covered baking tray, spread evenly with a spatula (you want a depth of about 4mm) then place in an oven pre-heated to 140°C.

Place the baking tray in the oven but leave the door ajar (you want the steam to escape, as you are drying the leather) and cook for about 6 hours, or until the fruit leather is very dry. The exact drying time will depend on the sugar levels, the more sugar the longer it will take to dry.

The leather must be completely dry, or it will not keep. To ensure the leather is dry simply try to pull it away from the clingfilm (plastic wrap).

If it comes away easily and holds its shape then it is dry (make sure it’s not too dry though, as then it will crumble bit it can still be eaten as a sweet treat).

To store, cover the fruit leather in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and roll loosely.  Place in a clean, dry container and seal (I typically use a pasta jar with a bung).  It will keep in the store cupboard for between 4 and 12 months or you can refrigerate and keep even longer.

There you go, rhubarb a plenty if you’re lucky enough to have crowns growing plentifully this Spring, if you don’t grow your own go for the lovely pinky and red stalks in your local grocers.

Bon apetit x

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