hazelnut, lemon and rhubarb cake

A Birthday Cake and An Experiment

Until this Sunday, I had never cooked with rhubarb. A vegetable that looks like a celery blushing at a bad joke, but gets treated like a fruit in the kitchen, made me wary. I had tried some rhubarb tart or the other, and wasn’t too enamoured I have to confess. But this rhubarb cake on The Simple Things Magazine charmed me no end with its dignified good looks.

Also I love hazelnut and lemon, so if a cake recipe mentions hazelnut, lemon and strange vegetable in the same breath, I am more than happy to give the strange vegetable a go. It also helped that I have a slight crush on The Simple Things Magazine.

So two weeks ago, I went and bought a bunch of rhubarb at my friendly neighbourhood supermarket, and noted that the rhubarb out here seem to be more green than red. Mine had a few splashes of pink in mostly green, and my mother-in-law assured me that this is normal. Normal for Germany I guess. Because that red one on the cover picture of that magazine recipe is quite pretty. Wish I had that.

But anyway, wishes are not paint buckets, certainly not for something I planned on eating later on, so I made do with my pinkish green rhubarb. Sunday was a day for an ad-hoc birthday party and I decided to test drive the recipe as well as the vegetable/fruit/whatever/rhubarb.

I made a few changes to the original recipe as I am prone to doing.

  1. I substituted the spelt flour that was asked for with regular all-purpose wheat flour. Because I figured I could get away with it.
  2. I added half and half hazelnut and almond, simply because I had exactly half the quantity of each…don’t know what are the chances of that happening, go figure!
  3. I used brown sugar instead of honey or golden caster sugar as asked for. I never cook with honey, because according to Indian traditional medicine it is believed that honey has medicinal properties that can be transformed into poison by the application of the kind of heat that cooking requires. I am not one to take such possibilities lightly. Plus, I can think of ten reasons to eat honey just like that, without diluting it with ten other things.
  4. I did not sweeten the whipped cream with honey. First of all, I figured 2-3 tbsp of honey would make for a much sweeter cream than what I could tolerate. Also I was not sure if I would like the flavour of honey jostling with hazelnut and lemon. I certainly did not want it to drown out the other flavours.
  5. I sweetened the whipped cream with a tsp of icing sugar. That’s it.

And…the sky did not fall on my head, the sun did not turn the other way. The cake turned out to be excellent, really satisfying! The family, including the in-laws raved about it. I loved the way the hazelnut and lemon married together, plus the cake was nice and light, yet moist. The rhubarb was not too sour, or perhaps the cake balanced it out. All in all, it hit the right spot. Try it.



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