This month I got the opportunity to think outside the 'birthday box', since I wanted to make a cake for my friend Messner's birthday, and he ain't a sugarpaste kinda guy. It was also a rather big birthday, and since I spend so much of my time making up recipes as I go along, I thought I'd make a special effort to actually follow a real recipe. And had it not been for a minor shortage of ground almonds in my cupboard, I'd have managed it.
He's a big fan of rhubarb (who isn't?!) so that seemed an obvious place to start, and I found a great-sounding recipe in my BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes book.
It's a little involved, but the end result is magnificent, and you should really give it a go!
Here's the original BBC Good Food recipe (together with my very minor necessary amendment).
Rhubarb and Orange Cake
350g/12oz prepared rhubarb, cut into 4cm lengths
200g/8oz golden caster sugar
finely grated zest and juice of half an orange
140g/5oz butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp baking powder
85g/3oz self raising flour
100g/4oz ground almonds
(I only had 75g/3oz ground almonds and it turned out fine!)
For the topping
25g/1oz butter, melted
25g/1oz light muscovado sugar
finely grated zest of half an orange
50g/2oz slivered almonds
icing sugar, for dusting (I totally forgot to do this)
1. Mix the rhubarb with 50g/2oz of the caster sugar and the orange zest. Leave for one hour, stirring a couple of times.
2. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celcius/gas mark 5/. Butter and line the base of a deep 9inch round cake tin. Cream thebutter and remaining caster sugar. Add the eggs, baking powder, flour and ground almonds. Beat gently, but don't overmix.
3. Stir in the orange, juice, spoon into the tin and level. Drain the rhubarb and spoon over the top. Bake for 25 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, combine the butter, sugar, zest and almonds.
5. Reduce the oven to 180 degrees Celcius/gas mark 4. Sprinkle the topping over the cake and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes or until firm.
6. Cool in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack.
7. Dust with icing sugar (or don't!), and serve warm with whipped cream, or just on its own with a cup of tea. Yum!