I’ve been haunted by this cake all week. It’s been calling to me from my fridge (where the beautiful new yoghurt sits), from my fruit-stand (where the tiny, perfumed lemons are placed), from my vegetable box, where half a bunch of rhubarb is awaiting its destiny. I can almost taste it in my mind – the perfumed sourness of the lemons and rhubarb, the mellowness of the almond and the syrup and the yoghurt, the softness of the drenched cake…
… the warmth and cosiness of my bed, which is much more appealing than baking in my current tired and rather depressed state…
I can’t claim that this cake sprang, fully-formed and Athena-like from my brow, but it has certainly evolved into quite a precise recipe without much effort on my part. As I write this, the syrup is simmering on the stove and the cake is still in the oven, but I *know* this cake now, I’ve thought about it in between meetings and grants and before going to sleep. I’ve even dreamed about it. I know it’s going to be good.
PS – Oh, it really, really is. Wow. It’s like a lemon delicious pudding in moist, glorious cake form, with rhubarb. It almost makes up for Australian politics. Almost. It’s definitely one of my best cakes, anyway.
Your Shopping List200 g self-raising flour 110 g ground almonds (conveniently packet-sized, see what I did there?) 100 g caster sugar + 3 tsp (for the tin) 50 g brown sugar a pinch of salt 1 tsp baking powder 375 g rhubarb 2 large eggs 250 g plain thick yoghurt (Greek is good, but any well-set yoghurt will do) 150 ml olive oil 3 small lemons 80 g white sugar water
Now what will you do with it?
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20 cm round springform tin, or if it’s non-stick and you are feeling daring or too sleepy to have thought the recipe through, don’t grease it and live dangerously!
Sprinkle the three tsp of sugar over the base of the tin.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, sugars, salt and baking powder. Zest the lemons, and add the zest to the dry ingredients.
Chop your rhubarb into 1 – 1.5 cm chunks, and scatter half of it over the base of the tin.
Beat together your eggs, yoghurt and olive oil. Mix into the dry ingredients until there is no random flour lurking around in the bowl and it’s all well-incorporated.
Scrape half the mixture into the tin over the rhubarb, and scatter the rest of the rhubarb over the batter.
Distribute the rest of the batter on top of that. Yes, that was probably obvious, but I had an extra photograph to use…
Bake for about an hour, or until the cake is well-risen and passes the skewer test. (Try to stick the skewer into a piece of rhubarb, to make sure it’s gone soft. That, of course, is not the skewer test. That is the other skewer test, the one only revealed to makers of rhubarb cake! Use it wisely.)
While the cake is cooking, juice the lemons into a measuring cup. Use water to make up the liquid to half a cup (125 ml), and pour into a saucepan with the 80 g of white sugar. What you should not do at this point is leave the heat on high by accident and then wander off to write a blog post. Instead, heat slowly until the sugar dissolves, and then let the syrup simmer for 5 minutes.
When the cake is done, let it cool in the tin for ten minutes, then turn it out onto a plate.
Drizzle the syrup over the cake while it’s still warm. You may want to do this in two or three goes, so that the cake absorbs the syrup rather than the syrup running off the plate. It will absorb pretty well, because you are pouring over the porous (ha!) bottom of the cake.
Eat warm – which is heavenly! – or at room temperature, with yoghurt if you like, and maybe even more rhubarb or raspberries. Incidentally, rhubarb is gorgeous baked with a little sugar – much nicer than stewed. This cake is very moist and should stay good for several days, if it lasts that long, which I fear is unlikely in the extreme.
This cake is itself a variation on several other cakes I’ve made – the Coburg Garden Cake, and the Blood Orange and Cardamom Cake, both of which had their genesis in a Diana Henry rose-drenched yoghurt cake. You can do pretty much anything with this recipe, flavour-wise.
To make this recipe dairy-free, you can replace the yoghurt with soy yoghurt, and it will work perfectly happily. You could make it nut-free by replacing the ground almonds with semolina (this would help it keep the dense texture that the almonds impart). It would work with a gluten-free flour mix, too. The one thing I’m not too sure about is making it egg-free – I’d try one flaxmeal egg, another 1/3 cup of yoghurt or soy yoghurt, and another 1/2 tsp of baking powder.
It’s not going to be low GI, but a gluten-free version actually would be low fructose for a change, so huzzah!!
Now I’m going to go EAT some.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Two years ago: Recipe: Lovely Rice Pudding for Dinner Again