Strawberry and Rhubarb Cake
Is there a sight that sings of summer more so than a basket full of freshly picked strawberries? Not in our garden. Since the 1500's these juicy red fruits have been farmed in Britain, ripening as the sun appears in early June and lasting, if we're lucky, until late August. Traditionally small and originally found among wild plants, home-grown strawberries are a different taste entirely to those found year round in the supermarket. Smaller, sweeter and unparalleled in juiciness. As soon as they appear in our kitchen garden we begin to plan recipes to use them in and this strawberry and rhubarb cake has been a sell-out success in the cafe. The combination of strawberries and the last of our homegrown rhubarb make for a sweet but tangy flavour, add nuts to the top for extra crunch.
For the filling
135g caster sugar
3 tablespoons cornflour
245g homegrown or locally produced chopped rhubarb
280g homegrown or locally produced strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
For the cake
375g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
225g cold butter or cooking margarine
2 free range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the topping
150g caster sugar
60g plain flour
60g cold butter or margarine
Combine sugar and cornflour in a large saucepan; stir in rhubarb and strawberries and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until thickened, about two minutes. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and let cool.
Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Lightly grease a 9x17.5cm baking tin.
Combine 375g flour, 200g sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. Rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse sand. Beat together eggs, buttermilk and vanilla in a separate bowl. Stir egg mixture into flour until just moistened. Spoon two-thirds of the mixture into prepared cake tin; evenly spread on the cooled filling, then cover with remaining mixture.
For the topping: combine sugar and flour; rub in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; sprinkle over the top of cake. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before serving.