Sunday, 3 February 2013

Rhubarb, Meringue and Vanilla Cake

 I only wanted a Victoria Sponge, just something to fill the cake shaped hole in my life currently. I even bought some raspberry jam which is now sitting, neglected, in the cupboard.
Then I went to the market and it just went all downhill from there because we are now on the edge of my second favourite food season (1st: Tomatoes) which is Rhubarb. Currently Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb is currently becoming available if you keep your eyes peeled, although it's quite hard to miss with its bright day-glo pink colour and it metre plus length. Give it a few months and the normal stuff will take over which my local butcher informed me is currently all leaf and no stick.

So having spied and bought a few sticks, the question is what to do with it? Well to be honest I didn't have a clue, this cake is entirely the subject of my whims at that moment.

I'm gonna need a bigger boat board
Firstly I made the cake, fairly standard sponge technique, the cream was already decided for the original sponge I was going to do. At this point I had planned to gently stew the rhubarb, just in water, until it softened to go in the middle.

As the cakes were in the oven, I was staring blankly at some spare eggs at which point I decided mini meringues would be nice on top and having haven't made them before, I thought it would be cool to have a go, so I made a few dozen, (egg white goes a long way) I left them in the oven to dry overnight.

So Sunday arrives and my plan to poach the rhubarb in water was annoying me so I upgraded to a sugar syrup and dropped in half a split vanilla pod and poached gently until soft, then because I can't stop at times, I decided to caramelise some other bits of rhubarb in the same way I did for a previous cake.
so...yeah, after some assembly. I now have cake and the cake shaped hole is filled.

300g butter, softened
300g SR flour
300g Sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

150g double cream
1 vanilla pod
150ml water
75g sugar
1 stick of rhubarb (about a metre) cut into chunks 2-3 inches long

2 medium egg whites
50g caster sugar

Caramelised rhubarb
1 stick of  rhubarb (about a metre) cut into chunks 2-3 inches long.
100g caster sugar
10ml water

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, ensuring each egg is fully mixed in.
Fold in the flour until a smooth batter is made.
Divide between two lined 18inch cake tins.
Bake in a preheated oven at 160C (fan) for about 30 minutes until a skewer can be removed clean.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Whisk up the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time whilst constantly whisking. as soon as it is all whisked in then stop.
Pipe on to a tray lined with foil into small mounds.
Bake in a preheated oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at 100C (fan).
Leave to cool and dry completely in the oven after baking.

Rhubarb filling
Dissolve the sugar with the water over a gentle heat, add half a vanilla pod, split down the middle.
When gently simmering, add the rhubarb and poach for a couple of minutes until they begin to soften, remove and allow to cool. then slice the little sticks in half.

Caramelised rhubarb
Slice the sticks into half and place on a chopping board, pink side up.
Gently heat the sugar and 10ml of water. swirl gently to ensure all is melted. slowly bring to the boil. Watch the colour, if the edges begin to darken swirl the pan to mix it up. Boil gently until a golden colour is formed.
Drizzle the caramel over the sticks and allow to cool and set.
The stray caramel can be broken up and added to the cake as decoration, I made little platforms for the top meringues.

If your cakes are bit off centre, trim them until they are level.
Pour the cream into a bowl and remove the seeds from the other half of the pod and drop in. whisk until smooth and soft peaks form.
Spread over one side of the cake.
Arrange the poached rhubarb in the middle and crush up some of the uglier meringues and sprinkle them across.
Place the other side of the cake on top.
Dust with icing sugar then arrange the caramelised rhubarb and meringues however you like.


1 comment:

  1. And what a cake to fill a cake shaped hole Gary! I too spied some Forced Rhubarb at our local greengrocers earlier, glorious stuff