Proving the proverb that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, but I’ll admit that it’s not the most photogenic of desserts, even if I had remembered to take a photo before the spoons were grasped.
Down at the bottom of my garden the sturdy shoots of pink rhubarb, under their umbrellas of dark green leaves, have been responding to days on end of sunshine and to the contents of the rain water butt. Cooked within moments of being picked, this year’s croppings have already resulted in a few good bake mixes. Some recipes invite you to cook and sweeten your rhubarb before adding it to the other ingredients but I prefer to leave it au naturel and experience the exquisite burst of tartness embedded within the sweet surrounding dough, such a decadent pleasure.
This recipe makes a pudding or a cake or individual muffins.
- Cream together 120g butter or vegetable margarine and 170g soft brown sugar. For added richness I like to use muscovado sugar, which resists amalgamation, but melting the butter and sugar gently together while stirring briskly is worth the faff.
- Mix in a quarter of a teaspoon of ground ginger. Yes, only a quarter, for a subtle buzz. I have had a go at alternatives here such as a few drops of vanilla or almond essence, but again keeping it mean, letting the rhubarb’s light shine.
- Mix in the grated zest of one lemon.
- Add 3 beaten eggs.
- Mix in 100g soured cream.
- Fold in 170g self-raising flour (or, for the wheat-fearing, spelt flour with a teaspoon of baking powder).
- Fold in 200g rhubarb sliced into 1cm pieces.
- Put the mixture into a pudding dish, cake tin, or muffin tin depending on what you decide you are going to call it. This decision will also affect the oven temperature and length of cooking time. I would recommend a little lower temperature and a little longer than you would bake a Victoria sandwich cake.
The above can be followed conscientiously and meditatively, or steps 1-5 can be achieved all at one, carefree, rapturous, go in the food processor, but the flour needs as little mixing as possible, so as not to beat the air out of it, just a few pulses, and the rhubarb pieces just a pulse or two so as not to lose their identity.
I served the pudding, warm, with spoonfuls of crème fraiche, to a recent jolly gathering which included a poet from Bloomsbury, who savoured a second helping and said some appreciative words, although they did not rhyme.