Rhubarb gently roasted for half an hour with vanilla and sugar and it yields a vivid pink syrup and fragrant rhubarb pieces that you can use in lots of recipes.
You can mix the tangy rhubarb pieces with yoghurt for a healthy dessert, or fold them into cream for a decadent rhubarb fool. But then there are Rhubarb & Custard Cakes for that real retro flavour. They have a spoonful of custard powder added to a basic cake batter, which makes them vanilla rich and golden. Then they are topped with freshly-roasted, vanilla-scented rhubarb. To double up the flavour you can add two drizzle icings, one with syrup from the rhubarb and the other with a bit of custard powder, or vanilla.
Greengrocers sell the rhubarb in bunches, like on our photos, but the pencil-thin, deep pink, forced Yorkshire rhubarb (sold in packs in the supermarket fruit section) make the brightest, tastiest syrup.
Cooking the Rhubarb
800g Fresh Chopped Forced British Rhubarb.
260g Caster Sugar
1 split Vanilla Pod or a teaspoon of vanilla extract
Put the chopped rhubarb in a shallow ovenproof dish, sprinkle on the sugar and add the vanilla. Cover with foil and bake at 180º degrees c for around 25-30 minutes. Cooking it this way keeps the pieces whole and stops it being stringy. Leave the pieces to cool in the syrup before you drain it to help the colour to develop. When it has cooled drain the juice into a jug.
The rhubarb will yield a good 350mls of pretty pink syrup for use in drinks or pouring over anything you fancy. It’s great on ice cream or rice pudding.
125g Soft Butter
110g Caster Sugar
120g Self Raising Flour
25g Custard Powder
2 Large Eggs
Cream the butter, then add the sugar and beat until light in colour. Mix the custard powder with the flour and add this to the butter and sugar, add the eggs and beat well. Add a spoonful of the softest pieces of rhubarb and ripple through.
Place a piece of baking parchment in the base of 6 small buttered tins (or just make in 10 cupcake cases). Sprinkle some of the baked rhubarb on each cake.
Bake for around 15 minutes at 175º until they are only just golden brown. They should tip out of the tins easily after they have cooled for 5 minutes.
Custard Drizzle Icing
tbsp Custard Powder – or some vanilla and yellow food colour
3 tbsp Icing Sugar
a splash of water
Rhubarb Drizzle Icing
3 tbsp Icing Sugar
Some pink syrup from the rhubarb dish
Mix the icings until smooth and drizzle over the cakes with a spoon.
Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
Add a shot of rhubarb syrup, add a shot of gin, or vodka if you don’t like gin.
Add a splash of vermouth, or lemon juice if you prefer things sour.
Shake it for about a minute and pour into a glass.
Rhubarb and Lime Spritz
A shot of rhubarb syrup
A good squeeze of lime
Top up with Soda
5oz plain flour
Rub these together then stir in:
Add 1 or 2oz Demerara Sugar
2oz Soft Brown Sugar
2oz Rolled Oats
1oz flaked almonds
Put on top of a thick layer of rhubarb pieces in an ovenproof shallow pan.
Bake for 25 minutes at 180ºc