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RECIPES > Irish Country Rhubarb Cake

Show: Feeding the Celtic Tiger

Darina Allen of the Ballymaloe Cookery School says, “This delicious juicy Rhubarb Cake based on an enriched bread dough was made all over the country. Originally it would have been baked in the bastible or baker beside an open fire. My mother, who taught me this recipe varied the filling with the seasons. First there was rhubarb, followed by green gooseberries in May. Eventually we had the first of the cooking apples in Grandad’s garden, then if we were lucky some Victoria plums from a neighbour’s walled garden and finally blackberries and apple in the autumn.”

12 ozs (340g) flour
2 ozs (55g) castor sguar
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoon breadsoda
3 ozs (85g) butter
1 egg (preferably-free range)
egg wash
52 fl ozs (165ml) milk, buttermilk or sour milk
12 lbs (675g) rhubarb, finely chopped
6-8 ozs (170-225g) granulated sugar
castor sugar for sprinkling

1 x 10 inch (25.5cm) enamel or Pyrex plate

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4

Sieve the flour, salt, bread soda and castor sugar into a bowl, rub in the butter. Whisk the egg and mix with the buttermilk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour in most of the liquid and mix to soft dough; add the remainder of the liquid if necessary.
Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface, turn out the dough and pat gently into a round. Divide into two pieces: one should be slightly larger than the other; keep the larger one for the lid. Meanwhile dip your fingers in flour. Spread the smaller piece onto the plate. Scatter the finely chopped rhubarb all over the base, egg-wash the edges and sprinkle the rhubarb with sugar. Roll out the other piece of dough until it is exactly the size to cover the plate, lift it on and press gently to seal the edges. Make a hole in the centre for the steam to escape, egg-wash and sprinkle with a very small amount of sugar.
Bake in a moderate oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the rhubarb is soft and the crust is golden. Leave it to sit for 15-20 minutes so that the juice can soak into the crust. Sprinkle with castor sugar. Serve still warm with a bowl of softly whipped cream and some moist, brown sugar.

©Darina Allen