Rhubarb Crumble Cake

We were out this morning when our Amazon packet arrived. An office in the building accepted the parcel for us. When we saw the DHL notice Layla and I did an ‘Amazon dance’ - she because she knew she was getting some more ‘Harry and the Dinosaurs‘ books and me because I was getting ‘Relish‘ Prue Leith’s autobiography. Leith is the founder of Leith’s (imagine that) and a serious over achiever in life.

We skipped over to the office and handed over the DHL notice.  The girl handing over the box launched into a rant.  I could tell it was a rant because her cheeks flushed.  I asked her to slow down and repeat what she had said.“You should know.  This is the last time we are going to be accepting any packages on your or anyone else’s behalf.  Otherwise all we do is answer doors to give people their packages.”  She must have seen my perplexed expression because then she said “I realize that this is the first time we have accepted a package for you but nevertheless that is our decision.”

I shrugged my shoulders, smiled and said thank you.  But to you I say there goes another sufferer of the resentful martyr syndrome  and ”Don’t you need to know someone before you chew them out? Or at least - Hell I don’t know - be aware of their first name?’  I feel like I should walk around the city, depositing fortune cookies with nuggets of self-help ensconced inside.  She would get; “Doing the right thing has no value if done begrudgingly” or “Life is too short to be this anal and you are too young to be this bitter.” or “Smoke some of this green stuff, it will take the edge off”.This all used to wind me up to no end when I first moved here but now I understand the psychology I just smile politely.

Meanwhile I finally snagged some rhubarb at Wittenbergplatz market last friday.  I wouldn’t bother going yet, it’s looking rather poor with most of the stands selling non-edible goods.  But there was one man tucked away in the corner with a collection of organic vegetables and Pinova apples.It was my mother’s birthday so I made her the Miette Tomboy cake, pretty as a picture but definitely a cake for the patient baker equipped with a stand mixer.  Layla is the self-proclaimed cake decorator so we had to forgo elegance for excess.

This is one of my favourite ways of eating rhubarb, wedged between almondy crumble on top and sweet sponge below.Adapted from Rachel Allen’s Entertaining at Home (Serves 6-8)

For the rhubarb
400g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2– 3cm chunks
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger

For the crumble topping
50g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
75g chilled butter, cubed
75g light soft brown sugar
50g ground almonds

For the sponge
100g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 tbsp milk
175g plain flour
pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 10C. Butter a 20cm square tin and line the base with baking parchment.
2. Place the rhubarb, sugar and ginger in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water and simmer on a low heat, with the lid on, for about 4–siz minutes or until the rhubarb is tender but not mushy. Remove from the heat, take off the lid and allow to cool (it will continue to soften while it is cooling so by all means - take it off the heat when it is still holding it’s shape. Keep the syrup to make rhabarberschorle)
3. To make the crumble, sift the flour, ground almonds and baking powder into a bowl, then using your fingertips rub in the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, mix to combine, then set aside in the fridge while you make the sponge.
4. For the sponge: cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the ginger. Sift over the flour, salt and baking powder and fold into the cake batter. Add the milk to lighten the mixture.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin, spreading it out evenly, then gently place the drained rhubarb on top. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the rhubarb and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden and cooked in the centre.
6. Allow the cake to cool slightly before removing the tin, then place on a serving plate.

12 Responses to Rhubarb Crumble Cake

  1. ceciliag says:

    I loved this post, hearing about your grumbly postal lady and the man in the market with his silen offerings of veges. I also love rhubarb but my husband hates it and tried to inadvertently dig out of smother my rhubarb plants every year. But once again they have survived and we should be cutting some soon, maybe I will make him this cake and we will convert him! c

  2. Karen says:

    Rhubarb is just starting to show up at the markets now. Your cake sounds easy to make. Much easier than the great birthday cake you made.

  3. CHEFinBERLIN says:

    Lovely cakes and always a good attitude in the face of adversity. Keep up the good work and you’ll sweeten up the sour Berliners in no time!!

  4. Giulia says:

    Maybe if you bring her a piece of cake she’ll rethink her position? Your mom’s cake looks great and even with your lovely photos I still don’t like Rhubarb…

  5. Anna says:

    Loving your comment: “Life is too short to be this anal and you are too young to be this bitter.”
    So true. Germans can be sooooo grumpy.

  6. Paulina Bembel says:

    My childhood memory: eating rhubarb straight from the garden, or if i was bothered to go home, then eating rhubarb dipped in sugar. For some city lovers sounds like hardcore childhood, but for me it was one and only opportunity to develop a taste/hunger for food ( any kind, from anywhere).
    I know how good your cake taste like, our take on, is almond sponge, intensely pink Yorkshire forced rhubarb with crispy sweet meringue topping.

    Well love rhubarb.

    • Your take sounds pretty good to me!
      I only discovered rhubarb in the UK and for the longest time I couldn’t cook it without it turning to mush but now I finally get it.

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