The Secret Door

Mar 2, 2015 | General

RhubarbThe rhubarb triangle is a nine square mile triangle in West Yorkshire. One family in particular have been growing rhubarb for the last five generations. The rhubarb is planted in dark sheds and deprived of light and food. It was the present owners great grandfather who was led though the secret door into these sheds as a privilege because children could easily have damaged the crops and were therefore forbidden. As the rhubarb searches for the light the stems shoot upwards and if it is very quiet in the sheds, it is said that you can hear the popping sound as the stalks are pushed out of the bud.
The nightly ‘Rhubarb Express’ from Yorkshire use to deliver the freshly harvested stalks to the London markets and then onto Europe every night during the short, intense three month season, which is January to March. At the peak of the season this was as much as 200 tonnes a day

So here is my recipe for


What you need:
20cm diameter round cake tin, greased around the edges and lined on the bottom

For the rhubarb:
4 decent stalks
2 tbsp. caster sugar

For the batter:
125g unsalted butter
1 tbsp.light coloured honey
50g light brown sugar
3 free range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
100g almonds
50g blanched almonds , crushed coarsely
50g polenta
30g plain flour
big pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
75g caster sugar

What to do:
1. Preheat the oven to 150C 300F Gas mark 2
2. Wash the rhubarb and cut it into chunks. Put it into a baking dish, in a single layer and sprinkle with the sugar. Cover the dish with a layer of greaseproof paper and foil
3. Put it in the oven for 30 – 35 mins until nicely softened and pink, checking regularly that the pieces have not broken up too much
4. Cream the butter, honey and brown sugar together. I do this in my food processor for ease
5. Separate the eggs ,add egg the yolks gradually, followed by the lemon zest and vanilla extract
6. Mix all the almonds, polenta, flour, salt, baking powder together and add this to the batter, mixing gently
7. I then transferred this to a mixing bowl so I could continue with step 9
8. Increase the oven to 180C 350F gas mark 4
9. Beat the egg whites with the caster sugar in a separate bowl, until they are stiff and glossy and fold in 1/3 of the egg white mix into the batter to loosen it, folding the remainder in gently
10. Put the batter into the tin and arrange the rhubarb on top
11. Check after about 25 minutes if browning too much and cover with a layer of parchment
12. Bake for approx 45 mins- mine took about that time and when tested with a skewer it came out clean.
13. Leave to cool completely in the tin, then remove for serving

Serve with Greek yoghurt or crème fraiche or just as it is , with your fingers


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