Dig Up, Dig In

Let’s play a game called “If you had been in my house for dinner last Saturday.”

I’ll tell you about the dinner and you have to guess what made it particularly noteworthy, ok?

Right, here goes.

If you had been in my house for dinner last Saturday:

Rhubarb cinnamon torte

A lovely rhubarb cinnamon cakey thing

By which time you would have forgotten all about the dinner game, but possibly realised in a haze the next morning that the noteworthy feature of the evening was that all of the vegetables had been variously dug, pulled, picked and generally harvested from Spud’s own back garden. There were the Duke of York potatoes that had bucked the otherwise low-yielding spud trend. The chard that got a head start before the slugs discovered its whereabouts. Courgettes from one of the few squash plants to get past the germination stage. The most fragrant garlic from a lone garlic bulb, the only one of many planted that grew. An almost lemony sage from the herb pots out on the deck. Rhubarb which had decided to engage in a little end-of-season spurt of growth. Red winter onions, good for relish and more. And even an appearance from last year’s crop of green tomatoes, in what is now a well matured pickle. Yes, a bounteous spread indeed and probably worth getting somewhat pickled yourself for.

  Print It

Rhubarb Cinnamon Torte / Cake / Whatever

If you were to leaf through the contents of my cookbook stand, chances are you would find this recipe for rhubarb cinnamon torte on a little piece of card, handwritten by my mother. Mum got the recipe from Big Sis #1 and I have no idea where she got it from. Resident Sis, meanwhile, is in the habit of making it whenever there is rhubarb about and it’s always a good day when she does.

Now, as to the name, a torte is not actually a high-falutin’ name for a tart but, rather, a cake of central European origin involving many eggs and usually ground nuts. So I guess that this is indeed a sort of a torte. Or a cake. Or just something nice to have with a cup of tea. Whatever.

A note on the mixing method: The original instructions simply say to mix all of the ingredients (except the rhubarb) together, ’til it forms a ball. They don’t elaborate on any particular method of mixing. Sis says she has used the creaming method, creaming the butter and sugar, then adding the wet and dry ingredients, though last time she says that she just melted the butter, added wet ingredients to dry and the results were entirely lovely. That’s the method I’ve tried myself and included here.

Rhubarb cinnamon torte

You’ll need:
  • 170g butter
  • 170g ground almonds
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 170g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 390g rhubarb, cut into small chunks
  • icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
You’ll also need:
  • 20cm round, loose-bottomed tin – mine is about 3cm deep. The tin should be greased and the base lined with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
The Steps:
  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Melt the butter over a gentle heat
  • In a small bowl, beat together the egg and egg yolk.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ground almonds and sugar. Add a pinch of salt if the butter you’re using is unsalted.
  • Pour in the melted butter and mix to combine, then pour in the beaten egg and mix together to form a ball.
  • Using half of this mixture, cover the base of the tin and spread the mixture just slightly up the sides. Press down with a spoon, making a smooth layer, with no gaps.
  • Now pile the rhubarb on top, just away from the edge of the tin (and, yes, it will look like there is rather a lot of rhubarb).
  • Spread the rest of the cake mixture on top of the rhubarb – don’t worry if there are some lumps poking through the top.
  • Bake for around 1 hour, until well browned. Cool for at least 10 minutes in the tin, then carefully slide onto a plate and (if you like) dust with icing sugar
  • This is a very moist cake, lovely sliced and served with some yoghurt or a big blob of crème fraîche.
The Variations:
  • The cake is very moist and rhubarby – if you prefer a little more cake and a little less rhubarb, you can go ahead and reduce the amount of rhubarb used by about a third or so.
  • I rather fancy trying this with ground hazelnuts in place of the ground almonds.
The Results:
  • Technically, this constitutes dessert for about 8 people. That assumes that you’re happy to share it with 7 other people though.
Comments
  • How lovely to have a garden meal and enjoy the fruits of your labour, literally. 8)

  • Let me say that if you had been there and done all that you would be most pleased with the evening, to say the least. Also the piece of torte/cake/whatever that was generously sent home with you would make a lovely late desert/early breakfast before a long trip.

  • Hmmm. I’m assuming that my invitation got lost in the mail. ;)
    I certainly would have swooned over that lovely dinner. I was drooling just reading your post! How impressive that all of the veggies and herbs started out in your garden!

    Of course, the torte looks scrumptious too! I haven’t been able to find rhubarb here all season!

  • a)Reading this post was torture. I mean, seriously DS, “if you had been there” just means that I wasn’t invited. Now, I am pouting.

    b)The menu, solid and liquid, sounds fantastic.

    c)I’m making a dinner for vegetarian friends tonight w/some of our home-grown produce: tomatoes and cucumbers, because that’s all that has grown, for now.

    d)Next time, I am inviting myself.

    e)Don’t worry about me; I’ll get over the disappointment. Eventually.

    f)Love, Jenni

  • Ah the rhubarb is beckoning me, like a siren. I have always loved this stuff and fingers crossed when my brother-in-law comes to SF again this week, he again blesses us with a bag full of it as apparently it is growing like weeds in his garden. I love rhubarb in all its forms but this tart looks incredibly tempting.

    As to that meal, it sounds like perfection. Not sure what I’d be saying the morning after, after consuming all that wine but certainly food freshly extracted from the garden has got to be some of the best. And how incredibly satisfying to have all your efforts in the garden deliverede in a fine dining experience with your friends. Perfection indeed.

  • Good thing I didn’t know about this – I would have stayed an extra week and crashed your dinner :) For some reason I can’t stop staring at that delicious rhubarb whatever cakey thing. Sounds stupid but I’ve always been intimidated by rhubarb after someone told me it was poisonous as a kid, but now I’m determined to cook with it someday (soon?) and I am going to use your mum’s recipe.

  • I wish I had been invited in your house for such a dinner. You must feel so proud of these products of your garden. And thanks for the new mixing method, I want to try it too.

  • Sounds like a fabulous dinner! The rhubarb cake looks incredibly delicious – I love the large chunks of delicious rhubarb here!

  • If I had been at your house for dinner last Saturday, I may have just worn out my welcome after singlehandedly ensuring that not a crumb was left of this torte or a lone bite of any of the other wonderful food you provided!

    It’s such satisfaction to know that you have well and truly fed yourself with the fruits of your labor! It’s a feeling we’re experiencing ourselves, albeit in a less varied manner than you – we planted only tomatoes and a jalapeño plant this year. Still, WE grew them! My rhubarb is past its prime but this recipe will be a keeper for next season. 8-)

  • curiousdomestic: it is a very particular and lovely pleasure, to be sure

    Tim: ’twas a pleasure as always and glad that the torte helped to fuel your long distance travel

    Susan: oops, I blame it on the US postal service – must remember to use a courier service for the invite the next time, lol

    Jenni: you mean you invite got, er, um, lost too? oh the shame… Next time, I fully expect you to invite yourself and you will be most welcome if you do! I hope that you will recover from the disappointment in the meantime…

    OysterCulture: ah yes, love me some rhubarb and, thankfully, once it gets going, it really doesn’t take much for it to just keep on growing – exactly the kind of garden plant I like

    Phyllis: you would have been most welcome if you had crashed the dinner – as for rhubarb, yes, the leaves are indeed poisonous but the rest of it is anything but…

    zerrin: welcome back from your vacation! And, yes, of course the veggies do make me both proud and happy when they come good.

    Natasha: the chunks make for a nice contrast when you’re eating the cake – you get a bit of sour tangy rhubarb surrounded by sweet nutty cake – yum

    Tangled Noodle: I would love to have you over to dinner sometime and would be more than happy to have you clear your plate of all items presented for consumption – that just adds to the pleasure of having grown and cooked the stuff!

  • Oh … i wish I had been there …

  • To the agro challenged in Los Angeles. This sounds like bragging… but if I had a Rhubarb beauty like that growing in my backyard I guess I’d brag too. Great job. I guess your garden worries have passed. GREG

  • I have a sweet tooth so I was immediately drawn to the fantastic rhubarb cake

  • Niall: Hello there stranger! Would love to have had to along. Will have to work on that one.

    SippitySup: I guess you could say that while I might lose some garden battles here and there, overall I’m winning the war!

    Jackie: I likewise have a sweet tooth so, if there’s rhubarb cake in the house, I’m always drawn to that :)

  • […] In fact, I could be all smug and crow about the positive dearth of food miles involved in my recent dinners but, nah, I really don’t care to. Besides, I might be accused of yet more braggery by Greg […]

  • Hey Spud
    I made this cake over the weekend for my parents, they loved it and it was just delicious with a nice dollop of cream on top, thanks so much for sharing the recipe I can see why it’s a family favourite

  • Hey Lucy – delighted to hear that! Glad you all enjoyed the cake.

  • Is that an invitation? I’d walk there to get a meal like this! And wow what a fantastic rhubarb whatever! Yummy!

  • Sure thing Jamie – if you turned up having walked such a long way, the least I could do would be to make a dinner like this for you :)

  • I’m making it again today for a dinner party, I might post the results on my blog – if you don’t mind, I’ll name it after you!

  • Why Lucy, I’d be honoured :) Good luck with your dinner party!

  • Hi Spud – it took me a while to post this – but it’s up on my blog now – your lovely cake in all it’s glory – it went down a treat – thanks again

    http://lola-luskitchen.blogspot.com/2009/08/rhubarb-almond-cake.html

  • Thanks so much for that Lucy – nice job!

  • Anything you'd like to add...?

    (required)

    (required)