Rhubarb Cake for my neighbours

by Ailbhe on August 11, 2016

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Have I mentioned how I love living on this road in South London? Well I do. Love it. Not just because we now have a little house that gives me a studio space to work in but because of the lovely people living on this long road of little cottages and terraced houses. We had lived nearby in Balham for almost 20 years (I cough when I say that – 20 years, where did…) and hardly knew any neighbours. That’s not exceptional for London to be honest. We lived in Balham before it became the hot spot it is now, no trendy anything when we moved there, now it’s awash with beautiful young wans sipping delightful coffee and choices of good places to eat as new ventures open all the time. I’m not knocking Balham, I still pop over regularly and partake of the scene being a beautiful older wan myself that likes to keep a fork on the pulse. However a transitory young scene doesn’t always make for a good neighbourhood community and no, I’m not getting grumpy with age (well I am but not in this case) it’s just that the nature of young and fun and only-here-for-now doesn’t always allow for the slow build of an inclusive community where all ages / cultures / abilities overlap and mix. That’s just how it is, have fun while you’re young is what I say. However we never would have described Balham as friendly, it’s London, where’s ‘friendly’ in London?

So when we came to view this little house I came early and did a little stroll down the road. A wee recce. I noticed that some neighbours walked out their front doors and walked over the road and talked to other neighbours! Shock! That happened not once but twice. Now depending on where you live you may think…’Yeah, and..?.’  But here in London that’s not a common sight I can tell you. The house viewing went well and here we are 3 years later and we’ve just had the most lovely of Sundays with neighbours on the first Open Gardens Tour for this road.

The concept was simple, a group of us residents dropped leaflets and posted on Facebook to ask who wanted to allow their neighbours in to view their back (or front) gardens or who just wanted to tag along as visitors. We started with 10 gardens at various locations along the 200+ house road (2 later had to pull out due to unforeseens).  Then everyone set off as a group popping in to the various gardens to have a look-see en masse. This meant we could control the timing of the garden visits. Most hosts offered drinks and nibbles and savouries or tea and scones and I offered rhubarb gin and rhubarb cake. The gin I made from my home-grown rhubarb and for the cake I supplemented mine with some store-bought rhubarb and a handful of blueberries (I had blueberries in the fridge!).

Our little Garden Tour meant we spent a really enjoyable afternoon with neighbours, some new to the street some we already knew, all ages, different backgrounds, different gardens, all sharing their gardening stories, sharing food and drink, just mixing and chatting and wandering along from the bottom of the road to the very top. A perfect antidote to the horrible post-Brexit vibe that lingers in the UK. So you can see why we love living on this road in Streatham. Yes, ugly A23 Streatham rocks and we live on its friendliest road.

The cake recipe was sent to me by my Australian sister-in-law who assured me it was fab and it was. It’s not a looker, this cake, so I pimped it with candied rhubarb and a dusting of icing sugar and some gold dust I had in my baking supplies (hey ho). But what marks it loses in looks it more than makes up in taste. GORGEOUS. Plus it is soo easy to make. WINNER!!


Rhubarb Cake

You’ll need a 22 cos springform baking tin, greased and double line the base with baking parchment.

300 grams sugar
115 grams butter (bring to room temperature)
1 egg
250 grams plain flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
235 ml sour milk (I used a mix of yoghurt and milk)
230 grams rhubarb (chop into 2 cms lengths)

50 grams brown sugar
1 tablespoon softened butter

Place all cake ingredients, other than the rhubarb, in bowl and beat till well mixed and fluffy.
Fold in the rhubarb.

Pour into the greased and double-lined 22cm springform tin.

Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle on top of the batter.

Bake at 180C for approx 70 mins, testing after 60 mins to see if baked because ovens vary so much.

Allow to rest in tin for 5 mins before removing from tin and then allow to cool to handle before removing the base paper
(I found that if you try and remove the base paper too soon it will pull the fruity base apart, so patience!).

Serve with whipped cream.




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