Rhubarb and ginger crumble cake

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I always make many batches of this cake around this time of year when my rhubarb is prolific. It is a very easy cake, taking moments to “throw together” before getting baked, and it will have you coming back for another slice!

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Updated April 2019

This homely looking cake is a handed-d0wn recipe that I have adapted somewhat over the years. It is wonderful eaten with a cup of tea but makes a great dessert when warmed up and served with a dollop of crème fraîche.

Sharp bursts of rhubarb and the gentle heat of stem ginger pieces eat so well with the delicately spiced and very moist cake.

The crunchy crumble topping might be gilding the lily (it can always be left out!) but the buttery crunch it gives always goes down so well with folk who have eaten this cake.

The topping

I have occasionally gone for just the gingery sugar topping that gets spinkled on the cake as it cooks, going slightly caramelised in the process. A little stem ginger syrup drizzled on top of the baked cake gives a gorgeous stickyness.

However, I prefer having the crumble topping too.

I cook the crumble topping separately here, often making a multiple batch and storing what I don’t use in an air-tight jar: handy sprinkled on all manner of desserts!

Going gluten-free?

I often make this cake into a gluten-free cake, simply replacing the flour in the recipe with a good gluten-free flour. I normally then add 2-3 tablespoons of milk if the mixture feels too stiff, depending on the gluten-free flour I am using.

Varying the fruit

When rhubarb is not on season I make this using cooking apples (cored, peeled and cut into smallish chunks).  A few fresh blackberries mixed in works very well, too.

Recipe: Rhubarb & ginger crumble cake (makes one 10″ cake – or two 7″ cakes)

For the cake

  • 80ml vegetable oil
  • 300g soft brown sugar (or a mixture of soft brown and demerara)
  • 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • 250ml crème fraîche or natural yoghurt (low-fat works fine here)
  • 300g self-raising flour (or gluten-free SR flour)
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 level teaspoons ground ginger
  • 300g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into small pieces (about 1cm)
  • 6 pieces stem ginger, drained and chopped roughly

Spiced sugar topping

  • 70g soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a couple of tablespoons of stem ginger syrup from the jar

crumble topping

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g soft brown or caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour (or gluten-free flour)
  • 30g chopped nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts….)

(1) Preheat the oven to 170C(fan) and butter and base-line a deep 10″ tin with greaseproof or loaf liners – if going for one large cake.

NB: I often make two 7″ cakes from this mixture: great to have one in the house and to give one away!

(2) Put the sugar, oil, eggs and crème fraîche into a large bowl and beat until well combined. Sift the flour and the spices and mix in gently until incorporated without over-beating.

(3) Stir in the rhubarb and stem ginger and spoon into the tin(s).

(4) For the spiced sugar topping, mix the sugar, cinnamon and ground ginger together and sprinkle over the top of the cake mixture.

(5) Bake for 50 minutes (regardless of the size tin) and then cover with a sheet of foil for the remainder of the cooking:

  • for a 10″ cake, continue to cook for another 30-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • for the 7″ cakes, cook for about 15 more minutes.

(6) Drizzle the hot cakes with stem ginger syrup and leave to cool fully in the tin. If you want the crumble topping, this can now be sprinkled on top:

For the crumble topping (which can be made in advance):

(6) Put the butter, sugar, flour and nuts into a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

(7) Spoon onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof and bake for about 20 minutes at 170C (fan) until light golden, forking the mixture around from time to time.

(8) Leave to cool on the tray, during which time it will crisp up.

(9) Sprinkle the crumble topping over the cake: some of it will stick to the ginger syrup.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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