December is a busy time for us all. start of the festive season, the work Christmas parties start and every second day seems to bring more social catch ups. Our December is always a bit hectic from the start as we have my Dad’s birthday and my husbands in the first week. Dad is a super tough cookie to buy for as he has a million hobbies but has everything he would ever need for them! And when I say a million hobbies….slight exaggeration, but only just. Bee keeping, American BBQ, garden, booze making, all things foodie, gadgets, photography…it goes on and on. I think it’s where I get my dabbling nature.
So to go along with a little gift, I decided to make him a cake. No just any cake, but one that combines two things that we both love; Rhubarb and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Weird mix? Oh yea. In fact, I can put my hand up and say that I believe that this is the only Terry Prachett’s Discworld themed rhubarb cake to ever exist. But hey, the coolest things are all obscure right? Geek is the new chic?
This cake is a winner for flavour. I used a great recipe from Sylvia’s Kitchen (http://sylviaskitchen.co.uk/bramley-apple-cake-with-rhubarb-vanilla-mascarpone/) and tweaked it a little. I’ve added frosting as I was topping with fondant accents- this would be just as lovely unfrosted and dusted with icing sugar or frosted on the top only with fresh berries and edible blooms.
225gms soft salted butter (or margarine)
225gms light soft brown sugar
3 medium eggs
225gms SR flour
2 tsp baking powder
3tsp vanilla extract (with seeds is best if you can find it!)
400gms peeled, cored and grated Granny Smith apples- go for the tart apples here!
100gms caster sugar
1 x 250gm tub of Mascarpone
1 good tsp vanilla bean paste
1tbsp caster sugar
500g icing sugar mix
125g butter, softened to room temp
3 tbs heavy cream
1 tbs vanilla extract
Pre-heat your oven to 180ºc/350ºF/GasMark4.
Rinse the rhubarb then trim and cut into 1” chunks and place in a shallow glass or china oven proof dish. Sprinkle on the 100gms of caster sugar and cover with foil.
Roast your rhubarb for half an hour then leave to cool. You should have a beautifully flavoured sugar syrup pooling in the bottom of your dish. Strain, but reserve both the syrup and rhubarb pieces.
Line two 8” sandwich tins with baking parchment and set to one side.
Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and vanilla essence together in your mixing bowl and beat until nicely creamed and blended, for a couple of minutes. Add the grated apple and mix well then divide between your two lined tins. In the images below, I’ve separated into three layers- I recommend sticking to two for this recipe as the layers are quite dense and I found them easily cracking when assembling.
Bake both cakes in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, until your skewer comes out of the cake cleanly. Leave in their tins on a cooling rack until completely cool.
Whilst your sponges are cooling make your filling, mix your mascarpone into a bowl and add the caster sugar, vanilla bean paste and 2/3rd of the roasted rhubarb.
Place the bottom sponge on to your serving plate, brush lightly with a small amount of rhubarb syrup. Spread your mascarpone filling over the entire sponge then dot most of the remaining pieces of roasted rhubarb over the filling and push them in to the filling. Keep 4-5 pieces and some of the sugar syrup aside.
Place the cake top on to the filling, sandwiching the two layers between the rhubarb filling and place in the refrigerator.
For the frosting, beat the butter until smooth and slowly add the icing sugar. When combined, add in heavy cream, mascarpone, remaining rhubarb vanilla and beat for 1 minute; be careful not to overwhip! Generously ice the sides and top with the frosting. This would be lovely topped with fresh edible blooms as opposed to obscure book references, but hey, where is the fun in that?
Store your cake in the fridge- this will keep up to 3 days.