Have you added ruby red stems of beetroot to your shopping basket lately? I bought some rhubarb this week and I was determined to overcome my procrastination, which too often leads to rhubarb wilting, growing mould, and ending up as chook food. A terrible waste. I hit my favourite recipe books and Sophie Hansen's book Local is Lovely
Rhubarb, orange and almond cake had the mouth watering elements of baked rhubarb, orange zest and nutty almond crunch that I love.
In Sophie's book she states, "most people only cook around three recipes from every cookbook they buy. If that's true, then please let this cake be one of those three recipes." Well, I have definitely cooked more than three recipes from Sophie's book, and I am so glad that I added this cake to my repertoire.
Coincidently, I listened to Sophie and Skye Manson's My Open Kitchen
as I made the cake. Usually I enjoy listening to the local ABC or Radio National as I bake, but the My Open Kitchen podcast is an equally engaging companion, covering ways to close the gap between growers and makers, and consumers through social media. While I am not a farmer, we do grow a lot of our own food and I am interested in food provenance and encouraging others to follow their heart and be more hands on in the kitchen and kitchen garden. It also provides insight into the lives of favourite foodies, in this instance Valli Little and Skye McAlpine, and a springboard for exploring food in books, blogs and magazines.
Sophie kindly gave permission for me to reproduce her Rhubarb, orange and almond cake. A lacking larder and 60km distance from a major supermarket dictated that I substitute some of the ingredients. I'm keen to make it again with a well planned shopping list. I hope you have a chance to make it too.
Rhubarb, orange and almond cake (Sophie Hansen, Local is Lovely)
What you need: 500g rhubarb cut into cubes, zest and juice of 1 orange (I used mandarine), 1 cup caster sugar, 1 tsp vanilla paste, 150g unsalted butter, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup buttermilk (I used milk), 180g freshly ground almond meal, 1 tsp baking powder.
Topping: 30g butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar (I used raw sugar), finely grated zest of 1 orange, 1/2 cup slivered almonds (I used flaked almonds), icing sugar to dust.
How to make it: Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced) and grease and line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper. Place the rhubarb, orange zest and juice and 1/3 cup of the caster sugar in a ovenproof dish and toss to combine. Bake for 20 minutes and then add the vanilla paste.
Cream the butter and remaining 2/3 caster sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the buttermilk, almond meal and baking powder and then spread the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Push the rhubarb and juices into and over the cake batter and bake for 30 minutes. I followed Jane Grover's advice in Our Delicious Adventure
, and made my own almond meal, grinding almonds in a food processor.
For the topping, melt the butter and stir in the sugar and grated zest. Spread this over the half-baked cake, lower the heat to 160C (140C fan forced) and bake for another 20 minutes. Cool the cake in the tin and then top with the almonds and dust with icing sugar before serving.
The tulips in our kitchen come from the most beautiful market garden-scale patch of tulips near Nundle, with bunches sold at our Nundle Friendly Grocer.
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