There has been lovely quality rhubarb in the markets over the last two months. Being under COVID-19 lock down restrictions much of that time has given us the chance to try new recipes. Here we give two rhubarb recipes that are terrific for morning or afternoon tea or as a dessert. Both last well in the fridge and both reheat nicely with a short zap in the microwave to just slightly warm through.
The torte is unusual because it uses marzipan in the batter, with an option of including some marzipan batons along with the rhubarb. The buckle cake is a North American recipe which calls for lots of fruit. There is no need to precook the rhubarb for either recipe – it will soften nicely.
Rhubarb and Marzipan Torte
This recipe is based on a recipe for a fig and almond cake cooked for us by some friends who live on a farm in northern Victoria.
Make the batter in a food processor. The uncooked batter may seem somewhat grainy but it will bake up nicely. Take care not to overcook the surface. Cover with foil if necessary. It may seem a little soft in the middle but it will settle down once removed from the oven. The torte will seep butter during cooking so place it on a thin baking tray or pizza tray in the oven to catch it.
The ingredients include 250g marzipan. Here we process half of it with the mixture, and cut the other half into batons – the same number as the rhubarb – to be pushed into the batter. The marzipan gives an almond flavoured lift to the cake texture. Instead of making batons, all of it can be processed and used in the mixture.
Trim, wash and dry the rhubarb. Use stalks that are similar in width so that you obtain fairly similar sized batons; cut thick ones lengthwise if necessary. Keep the remaining rhubarb for another purpose or chop into 1cm lengths and freeze.
Decide on whether you will divide your torte into 12 or 16 slices, or fewer if you want big serves. If you would like more rhubarb batons on the top, consider blitzing all the marzipan and using a rectangular or square tin, with rhubarb strips running across rather than circular.
- 200g almond meal
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 250g marzipan – 125g in cubes, another 125g in 12 or 16 batons each 10cm long (or use all 250g for the batter)
- ½ cup plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 125g softened butter, chopped
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 70ml milk
- several stalks rhubarb (around half to ¾ bunch) cut into 12 or 16 batons each 10 to 12 cm long
- 1 tbsp extra caster sugar
- 1 to 2 tbsps extra butter
Set oven to 160oC fan-forced (170oC normal convection). However, be prepared to increase the temperature for a while – to brown the top; or to decrease the temperature if the top is browning too much.
Use a 26 cm loose base tart tin or spring-form pan. Spray or butter the tin and/or dust with flour or almond meal. Cut a circle of baking paper the right size to fit in the base.
Using a food processor, whiz the first three ingredients (almond meal, marzipan cubes and sugar) until well combined and the marzipan has broken up somewhat; but don’t turn to powder.
Add the next three ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) and whiz briefly to combine.
Add the butter and whiz to just combine. Add the eggs and vanilla and whiz until just combined. Add the milk and whizz to a thick batter, using a dash more milk if too thick.
Spread batter into tin and smooth the top. If using marzipan batons push them spoke-like into the batter. Place a rhubarb baton over the top and press in slightly. Alternatively, if only using rhubarb batons, arrange these on the batter as desired. (See the photo below for the marzipan batons before the rhubarb goes on and the banner photo above for the torte just before it goes into the oven.)
Sprinkle with 1 tbsp caster sugar and scatter over small dots of butter.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or up to 50 minutes until it tests for being cooked, though a slightly soft middle will be fine.
Cool. Remove from the tin.
Serve warm with or without cream. Serves 12 (or 8 or 16). Also lovely cold. Leftovers reheat nicely with a short burst from the microwave.
Degree of difficulty: 3/5 (Moderately difficult)
Rhubarb and Strawberry Buckle Cake
I heard of buckle cakes only recently, when reading the New York Times online. They are quintessential North American baking.
The main difference between a buckle and other cakes is the volume of fruit. Some writers say, if you are unsure, to add more fruit rather than less. It seems while berries are typically used, other fruits can be substituted, especially stone fruits (peaches, plums), pears, figs and rhubarb chopped to the size of a blackberry. Don’t mix too many types, no more than three. Here we have photos for two versions: rhubarb and blood plum with no topping and rhubarb and strawberry with a hazelnut topping. Some recipes call for spices – cinnamon, ginger, etc – but go easy on them as they can detract from the fruit flavours. A sugary nut topping is an optional choice. Without a topping the cake looks good with the fruit poking through. The next photo is an example of rhubarb and blood plum with no topping. Later we include a photo of rhubarb and strawberry with a hazelnut topping.
Ingredients (for 8 to 12 servings)
- 500g to 600g (4 to 6 cups mixture of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, plums, pitted cherries etc or rhubarb in 1 cm cubes)
- 150g butter, softened
- 120g caster sugar or use some brown or dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- (optional) 1 tsp grated lemon rind
- 200g plain flour
- 60g hazelnut or almond meal
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch salt
- ¼ tsp each grated nutmeg, cinnamon and ground ginger
- 120ml milk and 60ml sour cream or 180ml butter milk
- extra caster sugar for topping
- (optional) icing sugar, for dusting
- thick cream for serving
- (optional) topping from 20g melted butter, 60g sugar, 40g plain flour, quarter cup chopped almonds/hazelnuts
Trim, wash, drain and/or dry the fruit. Place in a bowl with 1 tbsp of the sugar and stir through.
Heat oven to 170oC. degrees. Prepare a 24 to 25 cm spring form pan or loose bottomed tart tray. Spray base and inside with canola oil or similar (or butter the inside). Line the bottom with a round of baking paper.
Using an electric mixer (though possibly a food processor), add softened butter and the remaining sugar and beat until light and fluffy (a few minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, continuing to beat. Then add vanilla and lemon zest if using. Combine briefly.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl so they are evenly spread throughout then fold into the egg and butter mixture. Mix until just combined. Whisk or beat in sour cream and milk.
Stir in about a third of the fruit mixture. Spread batter in the pan. Scatter the remaining fruit over the top. Sprinkle lightly with some caster sugar.
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes (or longer) if necessary until cooked. A skewer should come out clean. If necessary increase the temperature towards the end to obtain a golden brown top.
(Optional. Prepare the topping by combining all ingredients once the cake goes into the oven and distribute over the top of the cake when half way through the baking time.)
Cool for 30 minutes or so. Serve warm or cold with lovely cream if you wish.
Serves 12 (or 8 or 16). Leftovers reheat nicely with a short burst from the microwave.
Degree of difficulty: 2/5 (Not difficult)