Since I was a little boy, I have loved rhubarb in the simplest of its cooking forms: compote. There was nothing fancy about it, stewed with a bit of sugar and served for breakfast, in a big old clay bowl that would make the food safety authority scream a loud and demented “J’accuse”. Sometimes, “His Highness” like my father called me, as I was a fussy little fecker, got served some rhubarb jam instead, in a jar, from the shop! Maybe she didn’t read the label? Maybe the beautiful rhizomes weren’t in season? With a disappointed pout and an exaggerated lift of the left eyebrow, I would push the jam jar away from me, in protest, with the tips of my fingers, before being clipped behind the ears by my father’s.
I woke up at 4:40 am yesterday morning, a Blackbird and a Robin were performing a John Coltrane V Herbie Hancock duet outside. There are worse ways to rise, that is for sure! I also remembered that I got a bunch of local rhubarb on the Saturday market – even though it almost got stolen from me, not once, not twice, but three times – by the same old lady. I finally looked at her, still begging for the last bunch, raised my right arm in the air, flicked my thumb toward the sky before turning my wrist 180 °, making it point towards the ground in a final and majestic manner, putting an end to her misery. Now I think about it, Dad also used to nickname me “Nero”… Bah! I can’t blame you sister!
I didn’t have enough to make a big batch of compote, but for a simple cake, it would do just fine; I used my Mother’s simple recipe she used for her apple cake. It works with a lot of things, and delivered again with this simple, yet very rewarding home recipe:
For the cake mix:
- 200g of organic white flour
- 200g of butter really soft
- 200g of organic golden sugar
- 3 whole free range eggs
- 1 tsp of baking soda
For the rhubarb:
- 1 small bunch of rhubarb
- 1 tbsp of honey
- 1 lime juiced
- 5-10cl of water ( just a bit to start)
First, rinse the stalks and cut them into small pieces; put in a pan, with the tbsp of honey, the water and lime juice. You just want to get them a bit softer, this won’t take long. Drain and keep the juice in a glass for a delicious cordial for after!
Soften the butter and mix the sugar together until nice and fluffy. Add the eggs and keep whisking. Add the flour and baking soda and with a spatula, stir until smooth. Fold in the rhubarb ( wait until it has cooled a bit) and scoop in a buttered and floured rectangular baking tin…
Bake at 200 °c for about 40 to 50 minutes. Allow to cool, turn over on a board and it should allow it to get there quicker. Serve with Ice Cream, cream or just like that with a cup of tea or coffee… Sit outside and enjoy the Spring!
postscriptum: my blue eyed girl argued with me about the fact that my cake looks brown; she suspected me to be using buckwheat flour… This Breton only uses pure butter and not Margarine in his baking. I used to work with a Dublin chef in Galway who made up a song on the famous Beatles’ tune: ” We all live on brown bread and margarine, Brown Bread and Margarine, Brown Bread and Margarine…”
This Breton is not for turning … ( or churning… Ok, that’s enough now!).
Keep Well and Eat Happy