Recipe: Rhubarb and custard cake

PUBLISHED: 12:27 01 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:27 01 March 2019

Charlotte's rhubarb and custard cake  Picture: Archant

Charlotte's rhubarb and custard cake Picture: Archant


A nostalgic bake with sweet, sour and creamy vanilla flavours.

Rhubarb really is one of the most versatile veggies around, working perfectly in both sweet and savoury dishes.

This week I used the beautiful pink sticks to recreate the flavours of a sweetie that’s kind of gone out of fashion a bit, but is still dear to my heart - the rhubarb and custard.

Like a chocolate lime, this hard boiled delicacy of times gone by is a bit devisive. Some people absolutely hate its sweet and creamy, yet super sharp nature, others love nothing more than turning a good old pink and yellow striped candy over and over in their mouths, their tastebuds jumping in excitement.

I remember eating them (along with pear drops) at panto time, when we’d go and watch the Co-op Juniors perform at the Ipswich Regent. There was something very grown-up about boiled sweets back then. A hard sweet was the kind of thing dads had in circular tins, stowed in the glove box of the car with a cloth for cleaning condensation from the window, or wedged in the centre console.

To be offered some out at the theatre felt very fancy indeed.

The beauty of rhubarb and custard has to be the flavour’s ability to both pucker your lips at its sourness and soothe with the creaminess of vanilla after.

This cake has a hidden layer of the vegetable layered within. Cooked gently in the oven until it gives a little with a touch of sugar, the rhubarb retains its tartness, which offsets the sweet flavour of the tender cake crumb.

Something I love about this cake is its glorious daffodil yellow colour - a combination of using good quality free-range eggs (which always seem to be more golden) and custard powder.

I absolutely love this sliced thickly and served with lashings of vanilla whipped cream or proper custard!

Rhubarb and custard cake

(makes 1 loaf cake in a 2lb tin)


4 pieces forced rhubarb each trimmed to 25cms long

2tbsps sugar

For the cake

175g sunflower spread

175g caster sugar

200g self-raising flour

50g custard powder

1tsp vanilla extract

3 large eggs

2tbsps milk


Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.

Pop the rhubarb, sugar and 1tbsp of water into a small dish and bake in the oven at 200C for about 25 minutes until it just starts to soften.

For the cake cream the spread and sugar until really creamy and smooth. Add the vanilla extract, then beat in one egg. Sift in a third of the flour, mix again. And repeat with the remaining eggs and flour. Add the custard powder and beat.

Pour in the milk, stir and spoon a third of the mixture into your prepared tin. Lay over the cooked rhubarb and then cover with the remaining cake mix.

Pop in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to one hour until risen, golden and firm.

Served warm with fresh vanilla custard this is a brilliantly comforting dessert. Or enjoy a slice at teatime.

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