Rhubarb And Vanilla Cakes


It’s rhubarb season which means you have no excuse not to throw the beautifully bright pink fruit into everything you bake.

I love the taste of rhubarb and inspired by picking out eight of my favourite rhubarb cakes I decided to make some for myself.

As rhubarb is such a strong flavour it needs to be eaten with something gentle and here I’ve gone for a vanilla sponge and buttercream.

I’ve not made my own jam here but used the very delicious Bonne Maman version but it would work just as well using stewed rhubarb with caster sugar.


Ingredients (makes 12):

125g self raising flour

125g soft unsalted butter

3 eggs, at room temperature

50ml milk (whole is best but semi skimmed will do)

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Half a jar of rhubarb jam (around five tablespoons)


100g unsalted soft butter

500g icing sugar

Dried and/or fresh flowers

Edible gold glitter (optional)

How to make…

Preheat the oven to 190C/180 fan/Gas 4 and line a 12-cup cake tray with fairy cake case.

Blend together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. This takes around three minutes with an electric mixer, double without. If you’re using an electric mixer remember to scrape down the sides regularly with a spatula to make sure everything is mixed in properly.

Once the mixture has doubled and lightened in colour, add in the eggs one at a time. In between each egg pop in a dollop of flour to stop the mixture separating. Add the vanilla essence and milk then sieve in the flour slowly.

Carry on mixing everything together until combined – around two minutes with an electric mixer, four without. Spoon the mixture into the cake cases until they are two thirds full. Bang each tin sharply on the table to get rid of the air bubbles and then put in the oven for 20 minutes.

Watch the cakes like a hawk and as soon as they’ve darkened in colour and spring back to your touch they re done.

Transfer to a wire cooling rack and wait until they are stone cold before attempting the icing – do not skip this stage otherwise you’ll end up with a slippy icing mess which soaks into the cakes and does not look pretty.

When the cakes are cold, use a sharp knife or icing nozzle to scoop out small circles of cake from the middle of your fairy cakes (feel free to eat as you go). When all 12 cakes have little holes in the middle, fill the hole with a generous teaspoon of the rhubarb jam.

Set the cakes aside and make your icing (or do this while the cakes are in the oven). Beat together the butter and sugar until it forms stiff peaks. It should be thick – like soft butter – and the longer you beat it for the smoother it will become.

Pop into a piping bag and swirl onto your cakes. I used a Wilton 1D nozzle but feel free to use whatever you have to hand – or just to swirl on freehanded if you fancy it. Sprinkle with the flowers – I used dried blue cornflowers (from Amazon) –  and then sprinkle a little gold dust on top.


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