Rhubarb & caramel cake

This cake is a god damn dream and will make all other cakes seem a bit, well, not as good. Four layers of a simple vanilla-scented sponge flecked with rhubarb, sandwiched with layers of caramel cream cheese icing, pieces of roasted rhubarb and ribbons of caramel sauce. See, told you — dream cake. 

The recipe is from the exceptionally good Ripe Deli, who have written a few excellent cookbooks. This is enough cake for 8-10 people; but if you plan on having any leftover cake for breakfast then I strongly suggest doubling the recipe. If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it properly, eh. 

Rhubarb & caramel cake

From Angela Redfern, Ripe Recipes. 

For the cake:

225g butter, softened

160g brown sugar

100g caster sugar

4 free-range eggs

150g gluten-free flour mix (or to make a gluten-filled cake use 225g plain flour and leave out the ground almonds)

75g ground almonds

2 teaspoons baking powder (check it’s gluten-free if that’s a concern)

150g red rhubarb, chopped into 1cm pieces

6 tablespoons cream

Preheat oven to 180°C and line the bases of two 21cm loose-bottomed cake tins with baking paper.

Cream the butter and white/brown sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour, almonds (if using) and baking powder and gently fold through. Stir in the cream and rhubarb. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for around 25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Place cakes on a rack to cool.

For the roasted rhubarb:

225g red rhubarb, chopped into 1cm pieces

1 tablespoon caster sugar

Line a flat-based ovenproof dish with baking paper and lay out the rhubarb in a single layer and sprinkle with sugar. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Don’t stir it or the rhubarb will disintegrate.

For the caramel sauce:

300g caster sugar

125ml cold water

250ml cream

Place the sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Over a medium heat, gently stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, put down your spoon and don’t stir it again! Bring the mixture to a boil and then keep it boiling until it turns a dark golden caramel colour. You can gently swirl the pan if the mixture is browning unevenly. Don’t be timid (caramel-making is the realm of the brave) and make sure you get a good golden caramel colour – an almost-but-not-quite burnt taste is what we’re aiming for.

Once you’ve achieved your perfect caramel hue, remove the pan from the heat. Grab a long-handled whisk and being careful, as the molten caramel will try to get you, gently pour in the cream as you whisk the mixture. Set aside to cool.

For the caramel cream cheese icing:

about a cup of caramel sauce (see recipe above)

400g full-fat cream cheese

a large pinch of sea salt

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor and blend until smooth. Add about a cup of the caramel sauce and some sea salt and blend until combined.

Putting it all together:

Once the cakes are cool, take a large, serrated edge knife and carefully slice through the equator of each to create four layers. 

Place the first layer onto a large flat serving plate and spread the cake with a little less than a quarter of the cream cheese icing, sprinkle with a little rhubarb and drizzle with some caramel sauce.  Spread the icing right to the edge of the cake and concentrate on placing most of the rhubarb and caramel around the edge of the cake so that they dramatically squish out between the layers. Place the next layer on top and repeat, until you run out of layers. More any remaining caramel sauce over the cake and let it run down the sides.

Place the cake in the fridge for an hour or so to set. Then cake it up: you’re in for a good time. 

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