Rhubarb and Custardy Cupcakes

Rhubarb is a fabulous fruity vegetable which we have for pud in many traditional ways, rhubarb crumble, rhubarb fool, rhubarb and custard. We are house sitting in a rural spot on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales for a week, looking after two gorgeous old dogs. It is in a wonderful location, with superb views and a delightful garden. There is a huge rhubarb plant growing in the vegetable patch and we were told to make use of some of it. Cake it had to be, so I picked one of those puddings and turned it into a cupcake!

I am inspired to make lots of deliciously British cakes at the moment, the entire country is fervently preparing itself for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee next weekend. The flags are flying, the bunting is draped and the shops are full of ‘British’ nosh. Everyone is baking for the event, for street parties and fetes. I have a few ideas for cupcakes, this being the first. We are going camping with friends for the bank holiday so it should be a good celebration.

I love the tartness of rhubarb, it is a very homely flavour and it is in season this time of the year. We always had it in a pie for pudding when I was a child, a pink slice sitting like an island in a sea of yellow custard {Instant custard, of the Bird’s variety}. I made these cupcakes in an Aga {the same Aga from “Adventures in Aga Land“} and they turned out perfectly. If you want to make them in an Aga, bake them in the roasting oven. Put the oven rack onto the floor of the roasting oven and the cold plain shelf on the second row of runners from the bottom. The cakes cook on the rack on the floor. The sponge is subtly custardy, so is the buttercream, the rhubarb is stewed and hidden as a surprise inside the cake and its syrupy juices are drizzled over the top.

oven 180 C / gas 4 /350 F

12 hole muffin pan lined with paper cases

For the stewed rhubarb.

  • about 400 g {3/4lb } fresh rhubarb {2 large stalks} chopped into inch long pieces
  • 40 g {3 tbsp } soft light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Put the rhubarb, sugar and ginger into a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer. Keep the heat fairly low as the rhubarb releases its juices. Continue cooking until the rhubarb has completely broken down then remove from the heat. Place a sieve over a bowl or jug and strain most of the liquid from the rhubarb, keep the strained rhubarb to one side and put the juice back into the pan and bring back to the boil, cook it like this for a few minutes to reduce and thicken it into a thin syrup. Pour back into the bowl/jug and allow to cool.

For the cakes.

  • 150 g {3/4 cup } golden caster sugar
  • 160 g {1 + 1/2 sticks } soft, unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp Custard Powder {Bird’s}
  • 150 g {1 + 1/5 cups } self raising flour
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 1/4 tsp {heaped} bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp milk

Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and beat to a smooth batter with an food mixer, alternatively put all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz into a batter}. Divide the mixture between the paper cases, about 3/4 full and bake for 15-18 minutes until a cake tester or skewer comes out clean. They should have risen with little peaks. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Use a sharp knife to cut out a void into the top of each of the cakes, fill this with a teaspoon of the stewed rhubarb {you’ll have some left over}.

For the custardy buttercream.

  • 200 g {1 + 3/4 sticks} soft unsalted butter
  • 400 g {3 + 1/5 cups } icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp custard powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk

Beat the butter with a food mixer until pale and well whipped. Sift in a 3rd of the icing sugar along with a tablespoon of the custard powder. Gently beat into the butter then repeat until all the sugar and custard powder was been used. Beat in the vanilla extract and the milk. Pop your chosen nozzle into your piping bag and fill it with the buttercream. Twist the end until it is firmly packed in and ready to ice then let it rest for 10 minutes or so. This is important as it allows the custard powder to ‘soak in’, and takes away a slight powdery texture. This is a really firm buttercream, excellent for piping.

Pipe your cakes then drizzle over the reserved rhubarb syrup to decorate and add extra tart flavour.

17 Responses

  1. Carole says:

    Hey, thanks for linking in. I have now also pinned this to the special Pinboard I have created for Food on Friday: Rhubarb. http://pinterest.com/ca4ole/food-on-friday-rhubarb/ I hope to see you again soon Cheers

  2. Carole says:

    Hi, this is a great post. I wondered if you would like to link it in to the new Food on Friday which is running right now over at Carole’s Chatter. We are collecting recipes using rhubarb. This is the link . I hope you pop over to check it out. There are some great recipes already linked in.

  3. Val says:

    Hi, I got here through foodgawker as well while looking for ways to use up my rhubarb. I love the rhubarb surprise in these… very clever!

  4. Beautiful photography!!! I just found your site via foodgawker and I’m having so much fun reading through your recipes and posts. So glad I found your blog!!! -Sandra

  5. Yii-Huei says:

    Yum, these look great! The pictures are beautiful, especially the first one.I love how you decorated them.

  6. Rhubarb, custard and cupcakes are three of my most favourite things…these look divine!

  7. offmotorway says:

    What a brilliant way of mixing rhubarb and custard! I must confess to being a big fan of Birds custard! Good luck with the camping over the weekend!

  8. Dave says:

    Great post! The photos are gorgeous especially the one at top with lens flare. Very cool photo! We are enjoying the prep for the Jubilee including the street party planned for Sunday here in our little Stoke Newington neighborhood.

  9. Beautiful photos and dog! I love rhubarb and custard so will definitely be making these! Mmmm!