The first allotment architecture of the 2016 has been raised! First the sweet pea poles went up, at which point we were on a roll and so the bean sticks were installed too. It’s a tricky thing, choosing where to put the sticks – we’re stuck with them now for a good 8 months – and they provide the height and structure for half the plot.
Meanwhile the hops are needing their own supports; this one has shot up a foot in the past week.
The sorrel that I chopped down to the ground a few weeks ago have grown back with gusto! I love its lemony freshness and given that my lettuce seedlings are pathetic, this is a great salady perennial to have in the veg patch.
Matt came home from Tamworth on Sunday with a ‘small amount’ of rhubarb from his parent’s allotment – yup, it’s that time of year when we enter the rhubarb glut! Our rhubarb plant is still small but will be cropping well within a fortnight.
What to do with all this pretty pink fruit (and yes, I know that technically it’s a vegetable)? I’ve made two versions of this pudding-cake in the past week, once with frozen stems (rhubarb freezes particularly well) and once with fresh. It comes out with a pretty pink top but the caramel turns the sides of the cake treacly, which helps to offset that mouth-stripping acidity of rhubarb. This upside-down cake is now a permanent addition to my rhubarb repertoire.
Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook
500g rhubarb, fresh or frozen (no need to defrost), sliced into 5cm pieces
60g soft brown sugar
Grated zest of 1 large orange
125g soft butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs (though if using massive eggs from Chappers, use only 2)
175g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk
Toasted flaked almonds
Grease a 8-inch round non-stick springform or push-pan tin and place it on a baking tray to catch any drips. Preheat the oven to 180c.
First make the caramel rhubarb. In a large frying pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, then tip in the rhubarb. If using frozen rhubarb, allow the fruit to sit in the caramel on a very low heat until defrosted, about 10 minutes. If using fresh rhubarb, allow it to cook in the caramel until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the orange zest. Remove the rhubarb with a slotted spoon and place in a pretty pattern on the base of your cake tin. Bring the caramel to the boil and bubble until reduced and sticky, then tip over the rhubarb.
Now make the cake. Beat the butter and caster sugar until pale and light, then alternatively beat in the eggs and flour until well mixed. Add the baking powder and milk. You want a light, pale batter with a soft dropping consistency. Spread the batter over the top of the rhubarb and smooth the top.
Bake for about 50 minutes but keep an eye on the cake and cover with foil if it’s looking too brown. It’s ready when a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Leave the cake to rest in the tin for about 20 minutes and then turn out directly onto a plate. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds.
This is lovely served warm with a dollop of thick fresh cool cream.