This is a recipe from that classic of home cooking, Farmhouse Fare. I have copies ranging in date from the 1930s to the 1960s, and I always find it interesting to see which recipes come and go through the decades as they are replaced with more fashionable dishes, or as tastes change, as well as recipes which persist over time. This recipe comes from the second impression of the third edition, published in 1947.
It recipe is in the style of the delightfully named pudding cakes, which are so deliciously comforting hot from the oven with custard or cream, that can also be enjoyed cold as a cake. I must confess, though, this really does taste better warm, so have been briefly zapping leftover slices in the microwave to bring it back to a cosy and comforting temperature.
Pairing sharp, zingy rhubarb with the warmth of treacle and ginger is just the tonic for this time of year, when there has possibly been a little over-indulgence, and a jaded palate needs reviving with something bright and fresh.
The rhubarb in the shops is currently of the beautiful, coral-pink forced variety and sandwiching it within gently-spiced sponge provides richness and freshness with every bite.
1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg – whisked
225g self-raising flour, or plain flour + 2tsp baking powder
200g rhubarb, chopped into 2cm slices
50g soft brown sugar
- Grease and line a dish with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper. I used a rectangular tin of dimensions 15cm by 25cm. You could also use a 20cm square tin, or indeed a round cake tin.
- Heat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
- Put 150ml milk, butter, treacle and spices into a pan and warm through until the butter has melted.
- Remove from the heat and sift in the flour, then whisk in the beaten egg.
- Add more milk, if required, until the mixture reaches a dropping consistency – that is, it will drop freely from a spoon (as opposed to thud in a lump).
- Spread half of the mixture into your prepared tin and then lay over the rhubarb. I like to gently poke the slices into the mixture standing on end, but you could also just scatter them freestyle.
- Sprinkle over the sugar, then top with the remaining mixture.
- Smooth over and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the middle is springy to the touch. If you like to test for doneness with a toothpick, be sure you don’t mistake cooked rhubarb for uncooked cake mixture and overbake.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then serve for pudding either as is, which is delicious, or with custard, cream or ice-cream.