Roasted Rhubarb and Custard Cake


As with our New Year celebrations the Saxons began their May Day celebrations on April 30th with an evening of games and feasting, all marking the end of winter and the start of Spring. The Celts continued the tradition throughout the middle ages especially in rural areas. Homes and barns were decorated with budding branches. Hawthorn was popular for this but considered unlucky if it were brought into a house before May Day itself. May Cup was made and offered to all visitors on May Day. Something for you to try with last year’s recipe for Maids of Honour.

Ingredients - makes 9 inch (23cm) round cake

14oz (400g) rhubarb, rinsed and dried ½ teaspoon baking powder
2oz (50g) caster sugar 4 large eggs
250g pack of butter, softened 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g pot of ready-made custard (not the chilled variety) 9oz (250g) golden caster sugar
9oz (250g) self-raising flour Icing sugar for dusting


  1. Heat oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas mark 6.
  2. Trim ends and cut rhubarb into finger-length pieces and put in a single layer in a shallow dish or baking tray.
  3. Sprinkle the caster sugar over the rhubarb and cover with foil.
  4. Place in the oven and cook for 15 mins then remove the foil, give them a shake and return to the oven for a further 5 mins. The rhubarb should feel tender but have kept its shape.
  5. Drain off the juices and let it cool.
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas mark 4 and grease and line the cake tin.
  7. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the custard and put the reminder in a bowl along with the butter, flour, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and golden caster sugar and beat until creamy and smooth.
  8. Spoon a third of the mixture into the cake tin, add some of the rhubarb , then dot with one third more of the mix and spread it out. Top with more rhubarb and spoon over the remaining cake mix leaving it with a rough finish. Scatter the remaining rhubarb over the top and dot with the set-aside custard.
  9. Bake for 40 mins until risen and golden, then cover with foil and bake for a further 15-20 mins.
  10. Cool in the tin and dredge with icing sugar when cool.

Guest taster’s comments

“I’ve never experienced a rhubarb cake before - Madeira or any other variety. The rhubarb and custard are as highly trained and merciless Ghurkha units. First comes the mellow, vanilla flavour and soft-textured advance of a well formed sponge to calm the bodies defences, and then the stealthy strike begins. The rhubarb packs a punch to rival Muhammad Ali, and each chomp of the jaw and push of the tongue opens up another part of the mouth to its drool-inducing power. All-to-soon in a state of blissful confusion you come to the end of the wedge and the soft crust moves in to gently exfoliate the battle field. Like a rogue’ish member of the opposite sex that you know you’re better off without, this cake is nevertheless, only a phone call away.....”