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This cake is a smaller version of the rhubarb cake from my cookbook which was originally called Herman’s cake in memory of the father of one of my closest friends. My original recipe fed 10 to 12 people and is truly the mother of feeding-a-large-gathering cakes. But this week I decided to halve the recipe as no need for a giant cake, and it was a great success.

For several years I spent a few weeks each summer at their French summer home. It’s an ancient farmhouse, set in the middle of fields, and the shops are an energetic bike ride away. I baked endless cakes for the legions of family who appear without warning, so imagine my joy on discovering copious rhubarb patches all around the house.  

I would take enormous pleasure in wandering out into the intense August heat, armed with an ancient wooden-handled knife, and kneeling in the grass to cut the rhubarb stalks. I would trim them then & there, tossing the umbrella leaves into the compost bin under the kitchen window. 

This week I didn’t have time to make the cake’s original crumble topping so instead I just took a handful of light Muscavado sugar and sprinkled over the top. This gave a wonderful almost caramelised golden richness to the cake and I highly recommend doing this.

It’s a quick cake to make: use a stand mixer or food processor, and it can be done in fifteen minutes. Most of all I love the crisp sugary edges which I nibble on with a cup of coffee.

You will need: a 20cm/8” springform cake tin 


200gm butter 
200gm caster sugar 
2 eggs 
200gm self raising flour 
four stalks rhubarb, & chopped into 2cm pieces & tossed with a tablespoon of sugar 

For the topping  
2 tablespoons light brown (Muscavado) sugar 


Thoroughly grease (with either butter or baking spray) and line a 20cm/8″ cake tin, both sides and bottom* and pre-heat the oven to 180C. 

*I use non-stick baking spray, precut cake liner circles which I buy on-line here, and collar liners on a roll here. This is my preferred springform tin for cakes.

Cream together the butter and sugar – this can be done in a bowl with a wooden spoon, but I prefer to use a food mixer for at least three minutes to get the mixture really light and fluffy.

Beat the two eggs together, and add half to the mixture. Beat together. Add 2tbsps of the flour. Beat again. Add the rest of the eggs. Beat again.  Add the rest of the flour. Beat again. That’s your cake batter. (be careful to only beat together for as long as it takes for each step to be incorporated in order to keep the cake light. Over beating makes for a tougher batter.

Pour the mixture into the well-greased cake tin. Scatter over the chopped rhubarb, pressing it in lightly. (You don’t mix it in as it would all just sink to the bottom. This way it distributes itself evenly through the cake as it cooks.) 

Sprinkle over the sugar, and place in the oven for around 25minutes. It’s cooked when it’s turned golden and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (Make sure you don’t pierce a piece of fruit, as this will give a false positive.) 

Notes: If you don’t have a loose bottomed cake tin, grease the tin extra thoroughly all over with butter on a bit of kitchen paper, and then shake a tablespoon of flour over it, banging the tin over the sink to get rid of any excess flour before the batter goes in. This ensures a crispy base that doesn’t stick. 

My preferred baking equipment:

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