January Blues + A Simple Rhubarb Cake
January can kiss my arse. I've been hating it this year. The damp, grey and eternally dark days are making me grumpy, moody and listless. And of course it's been a week of depressing news. Like most people I've been saddened and shocked by the loss of David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Thankfully today there has been sunshine and it's like a miracle. I can't express how much I've appreciated that spot of Vitamin D on my face. I know there is a long way to go to Spring, but somehow days like these give me hope that we are heading in the right direction.
Other than the sun shining, three things have made my week go a little quicker and feel a lot more upbeat. Firstly I took the train to York on Tuesday to meet an online friend. Kiki runs a beautiful vintage store from her farmhouse in North Yorkshire. We chatted for hours, drinking endless cups of coffee and enjoying a lovely breakfast in my favourite York hangout, Brew and Brownie. We'll definitely be meeting again soon and hope to collaborate on some exciting Yorkshire projects.
My friend gave me a basket of white hyacinths and their scent is simply intoxicating. I feel positively lifted by their aroma. If January is getting you down go get some hyacinths.
Today I bought the first of the Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb and indulged in a slow baking session. Usually I'm juggling a hundred things at once when I'm in the kitchen. But on this occasion I took the time to notice things and this recipe is perfect for that. It's simple, yet each process makes you appreciate how it all comes together in the end. Breaking the cardamom pods and then grinding them in the pestle and mortar instead of just chucking in something from a jar. Mixing the wet with the dry ingredients in small batches made me pause as each turn of the spoon gave me a different fragrance to embrace, firstly with the homely comfort of the vanilla to the next, enjoying the heady perfume of the cardamom. Then finishing off the cake with the arrangement of the rhubarb pieces on the top. It was a simple, slow way to spend the morning. And boy did that cake taste good too.
180g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1 pinch salt
100g unsalted butter, softened
200g granulated sugar
1 large, free range egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
120ml semi-skimmed milk
200g forced rhubarb, sliced into 5cm pieces
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C.
Grease and line a 22cm springform cake tin
Mix flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom seeds in a bowl. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and creamy.
Add the egg and the vanilla and beat until smooth.
Fold in the flour mixture and the milk in additions and stir with a spatula until combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
Place the pieces of rhubarb onto the top of the cake.
Bake the cake for about 40 - 50 minutes until golden brown on top or a skewer comes out clean.
Previously I've made: