One of the things growing at this time of year at the Market Garden is forced rhubarb.
We grow it in complete darkness, cutting it by candlelight which prevents any strong light affecting the growth of the stalks.
Stalks are the palest pink, with yellowing tops, and the texture is much more delicate than outdoor rhubarb.
West Yorkshire is famous for it's forced rhubarb and even holds Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status by the European Commission's Protected Food Name scheme. So like Champagne and Stilton, you can't use the name unless it's from the region. Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb is celebrated once a year with a big food festival in Wakefield held at the end of February.
Usually I make a rhubarb and pear crumble with ginger topping, but I wanted to try something different with it, so I opted for a cake. I stumbled across a recipe online for Rhubarb and Vanilla Yoghurt Cake. It was flavoured with vanilla essence (made by soaking vanilla pods in rum) and orange flower water. It sounded delicious. But rather than make my own vanilla essence, I opted for just using shop bought vanilla extract. It's such a quick and easy cake to make, and is perfect served with cream for a dessert.
So here is the recipe (slightly adapted from here):
300g rhubarb, thinly sliced
310g self-raising flour
230g caster sugar
zest of one orange
pinch of salt
125g plain yoghurt
1 tbsp orange flower water
1 tbsp vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter, melted
Grease a 9" cake tin and preheat the oven to 180C.
Mix the rhubarb, flour, caster sugar, orange zest and salt together in a bowl.
In another bowl, mix the eggs, yoghurt, vanilla extract, orange flower water and butter together.
Mix both mixtures together until there are no dry patches left, but do not over-mix.
Pour it into the cake tin and then bake for about 50 minutes.
It should be golden brown on the top when it's ready.
Let it cool in the tin for about 15 minutes and then turn it out onto a wire rack.
Then go eat! x