“Is the spring coming?" he said. "What is it like?"...
"It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...”. I love that description of spring in "The Secret Garden", one of my most beloved books. These last weeks it has felt so fitting, going from pouring rain to warm sunshine and back again.
But besides unpredictable weather, spring also means rhubarb! A scarlet treasure for which I will endure many a rainy day. I plan on stocking my pantry with rhubarb jam, my freezer with tangy, pink sorbet and my belly with tarts and cakes to my heart's desire. First up is this humble looking, but utterly delicious French style rhubarb cake.
Rhubarb and rose is a classic combination, but I much prefer rose geranium with rhubarb. Rose geranium leaves tastes sort of like a younger, sassier sister to rose petals with their citrusy, spicy and herbaceous rose scent. I infused a handful of geranium leaves in the melted butter for a subtle flavour to highlight the springtime flavour of rhubarb. I also added a little vanilla extract and lemon zest to the batter as well as a sprinkling of bright green pistachios on top.
Served with a dollop of full fat creme fraiche, it was a perfect afternoon treat.
Rose geranium scented French rhubarb cake
Makes one 20cm cake
125g unsalted butter
4 rose geranium leaves
1/2 lemon, zest of
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
140g all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
300g rhubarb, washed and cut in 2,5cm chunks
1 Tbsp. chopped, unsalted pistachios
Preheat oven to 175C, and line and grease a 20cm cake pan.
Sieve together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
Melt butter in a small saucepan and infuse rose geranium leaves for 15 minutes. Rub lemon zest with the sugar in a mixing bowl until fragrant, add the eggs and beat for 4-5 minutes until pale and very light.
Remove rose geranium leaves from the butter, before pouring the melted butter into the egg mixture while whisking. Using a rubber spatula fold in 1/3 of the flour followed by 1/2 of the milk and the vanilla extract. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the milk and finally the remaining 1/3 of the flour.
Fold in the rhubarb pieces and pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, smooth the surface and sprinkle the pistachio over the cake.
Bake for 50-55 minutes in the middle of the oven, or until golden brown and baked through.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack, before removing the cake from the pan. Serve either slightly warm or at room temperature with full fat creme fraiche.