I adore rhubarb! I know it looks slightly terrifying to cook but it’s actually a piece of cake. Literally here. Today I decided to softly stew the rhubarb with rose and I can’t wait to eat the left-overs as a sort of breakfast fool with yogurt and chopped nuts in the morning.
Rhubarb is great treated simply (as above), but what follows here is a bit of a special treat for you all. These cupcakes are inspired by rhubarb crumble of course, and by my much-used and loved hummingbird bakery cookbook. In particular their raspberry trifle cupcakes. I have used rhubarb purée instead of raspberry jam and my custard recipe, which replaces the traditional cupcake icing, is what I consider to be ‘proper’ custard. And of course it’s topped with a crunchy, buttery crumble. I hope you’ll give it a go this spring and let me know how you get on.
I won’t give measurements here as they really are unnecessary. Simply roughly chop some fresh rhubarb and pop it into a pan. Then add a splash or two of water. Sprinkle over a couple of tablespoons of sugar (or honey/maple/agave) and cook on a moderately high heat for about 5-10 minutes. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until the rhubarbs starts turning to a soft purée. Taste and add more sugar/syrup to your liking. I like mine quite tangy. Add a couple of teaspoons of rosewater and a few pinches of dried/fresh rose petals and stir again. Set it to one side to cool while you make your cakes.
First make a quick crumble topping by chopping about 50g of butter into a bowl, add 50g flour, 30g sugar and 30g of ground almonds. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until a rough, wet beach-sand-like texture forms. Spread onto a baking sheet covered with baking parchment and bake at 180 for about 10 minutes or so until the crumbles are nicely coloured. Don’t worry if they merge together. Once it’s cooled you can just crumble it up again.
Make the cupcake batter.
Put 240ml milk, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp rosewater into a measuring jug. Mix well with a handheld electric whisk.
Then in a large mixing bowl whisk 80g very soft butter, 250g caster sugar and 250g flour (use either self raising or plain with a tablespoon of baking powder added). Once the mixture is well incorporated and resembles bread crumbs slowly add the wet mixture from the jug whilst whisking well to combine. But don’t over-mix!
Divide the mixture into 12 muffin cases and bake for just under 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven (180C). I always turn my muffin tin around after the first 10 minutes to ensure a fairly even bake. Let the cakes cool slightly in the tin before carefully taking them out and placing them on a cooling rack to completely cool.
Meanwhile make the custard. Pour a 300ml tub of organic double cream into a small milk pan. Add 5-6 egg yolks (5 if large, 6 if smallish), 2 tbsp of caster sugar, 1 tsp rosewater and 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract. Bring it gently to the boil stirring continuously with a heat-proof spatula. Take it off the heat and whisk well. It should be nice and thick now but add a tsp of corn flour and whisk again over a gentle heat if you are having trouble. Pour the custard out into a nice cool bowl and whisk some more. This ensures there are no lumps and helps it cool down faster.
Then assemble the cakes!
Cut little hollows in each cake with a sharp knife. Scoop out a bit more of each cake with a teaspoon. Then fill each with a generous spoon of the rhubarb and rose purée. Top with a couple of tablespoons of thick custard and sprinkle over some crunchy crumble. Enjoy! Liz x