This is a proper ‘pudding cake’ to serve warm from the oven with hot, thick vanilla custard or cold double cream. The ginger (I like to use stem ginger in syrup) adds spice to the cake and complements the rhubarb in the most wonderful way. You can lay the rhubarb into the cake tin in neat rows like I have here – it’s kind of fun, in a fiddly way – or you can simply chop it up into bits and let it fall however it likes. Totally up to you.
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes, plus cooling
Photography: Andrew Montgomery
200g unrefined caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling and to finish
6–8 rhubarb stalks
175g unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing
175g self-raising wholemeal flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of fine sea salt
3 small pieces of stem ginger preserved in syrup, chopped
1 tbsp ginger syrup (from the stem ginger jar)
Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4.
Cut a circle of baking parchment to fit the base of a 23cm (9in) springform cake tin. Remove the lined base from the ring of the tin and sprinkle over a little caster sugar. Then, lay the rhubarb stalks over the base side by side, using a sharp knife to trim the edges so you’re left with a nice disc of stalks that covers the base. Grease the ring of the cake tin with butter and dust with flour, then pop the base (complete with rhubarb in place) into the ring and secure with the clip.
Sift the flour together with the baking powder and salt into a bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, using either a wooden spoon or a hand-held electric whisk, beat the butter and 200g sugar together until light and fluffy (alternatively, you can do this in a stand mixer). Beat in the eggs one at a time, sprinkling in 1 heaped teaspoon of flour mixture with each addition of egg.
Using a large spoon, fold in the remaining flour mixture and the chopped stem ginger and syrup, until fully combined and no streaks of flour remain. Spoon the mixture carefully over the rhubarb in the tin, spreading it out lightly and evenly with the back of the spoon.
Place the cake in the middle of the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes, then turn out onto a serving plate, so that the rhubarb is on the top. Sprinkle with a little extra caster sugar and serve warm or cold, cut into thick slices.
Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower is a cookbook about plants it’s about making the most of the land’s bounty in your everyday cooking. It’s based on Gill’s philosophy that small changes to the way we cook and eat can both lessen the impact we have on the environment and dramatically improve our health and wellbeing: good for us and for future generations to come. It’s a beautiful book you’ll want to have on your shelf. Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower by Gill Meller (Quadrille, £27) Photography: Andrew Montgomery.