I have been saving this recipe for Rhubarb Custard Tea Cake since last summer when I found it after rhubarb season was over. My grandmother made the best rhubarb cream pie and I had visions of this cake being similar to it…I was hoping it would be anyway. I had my work cut out for me because the recipes that appeared on several blogs were different in important ways and the original recipe called for BIRD’S CUSTARD POWDER. Have you ever heard of it…I sure hadn’t. The custard powder was the base for the filling and some went into the cake batter. It gives the cake a beautiful golden color and I didn’t have a clue what to use as a substitution. The blogs offered a from-scratch cream filling to substitute for the one made from the mix and I decided to take that route rather than to search for it . Aarrgghhh…big mistake. After the second failure I was about ready to give up on the filling but decided to try to find a remedy for a separated custard on Google. It was just nasty looking…twice. I was lucky to find a similar cream filling recipe in one of Ina’s recipes. She said that it was common for cream fillings to separate and if that happened to just beat the heck out of it with a whisk and it should smooth itself out and be perfect…and so it was. This cream filled cake differs from other well known similar cakes because the filling is baked right in the batter. The cake isn’t split after baking and then filled the way Bienenstich Kuchen (German Bee Sting Cake) is.
The other cake recipes emphasized how thick the batter was and that it was difficult spreading it out to cover the bottom of the pan (half the batter) and then covering the custard with the other half. My batter spread easily so I was thinking that there was probably some mistake here. It turned out great, so no problem. This will be so much easier the next time I make it. The guesswork will be gone.
I lined an 8-inch spring form pan with parchment paper, a sheet on the bottom that goes beyond the ring. Just spread it out and clamp the ring on top. Wipe shortening or butter on the inside of the ring and attach strips of parchment to it. Evenly spread half the batter on the bottom of the pan, making sure it is fully covered. Then spread the chilled cream mixture onto the batter. Spoon tablespoons of the remaining batter on top of the custard and gently smooth out to cover.
Cover the top of the dough with 1-inch pieces of rhubarb. Spread with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. The two bloggers who made this cake placed spears of rhubarb on the batter like the spokes of a wheel…it was very pretty but both said the cake needed more rhubarb. This was my solution and I think it still could have used more. Next time I make this I will try poaching larger pieces of rhubarb in a sugar syrup before I place it on the cake for appearance and softer pieces of rhubarb. I think it dried out a little bit after 1-1/2 hours in the oven. The cake has a wonderful flavor, and the ribbon of custard that runs through it is delicious. The cake is on the dense side because of the moisture it absorbs from the custard…all good.
I loved this cake and will make it several times this summer I’m sure. I think it would be delicious with apricots, peaches, blueberries, apples, so many different summer fruits. I see that Bird’s Custard Powder is available at the local World Market so will stop by and pick up several cans. This will make the process of baking this yummy cake much easier. I’ll know what I’m doing next time. I recommend the 8-inch spring form pan…anything bigger and the cake will be too thin.
This recipe appears in THE CAKE STALL by the Australian Women’s Weekly and can also be seen at EAT, LITTLE BIRD and TABLE FOR 2…OR MORE. Their cakes are beautiful and you can see how they make them. The custard powder gives the cake a lovely color.
- 200 g (6-1/2 ounces) butter
- 110 g (1/2 cup) superfine sugar
- 2 eggs
- 185 g (1-1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 40 g (1/3 cup) Custard Powder
- 1-2 fresh rhubarb stalks
- 20 g (1 tablespoon) melted butter
- 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons custard powder
- 55 g (1/4 cup) superfine granulated sugar
- 250 ml (1 cup) milk
- 20 g (1 tablespoon) butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 300 ml (1-1/4 cup) whipping cream
- 1 vanilla pod
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Mix together the custard powder and sugar in a small saucepan. Whisk in the milk and bring the pan to a boil, stirring frequently.The mixture will start to thicken very quickly, and when it does take the pan off the heat. Whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. The custard should be quite thick and will thicken more upon cooling. Place some plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for several hours.
- Heat the whipping cream in a small saucepan with the split vanilla bean. In a medium bowl whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar. When the cream is almost to a boil remove the vanilla bean. Slowly pour the mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and continue whisking over medium heat until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat. If the mixture breaks down beat it vigorously with a whisk until it is smooth and creamy. It needs to be thick. Pour into a bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap. Cool for 30 minutes and then refrigerate for an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, together with a tablespoon of the flour to help it all come together. Add the remaining flour, baking powder, and custard powder, and mix well. The batter will be thick because there is no liquid, but it should be spreadable.
- Line the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan or an 8-inch spring form pan with parchment paper. Butter the sides and line with more parchment. Use a small spatula or the back of a large spoon to spread half the batter into the pan, making sure it covers all the surface. Spread the custard mixture over the cake batter. Dollop spoonfuls of the remaining cake batter over the custard and carefully spread to completely cover the custard. Chop the rhubarb into the desired size pieces and arrange on top of the cake. Brush the top of the cake with melted butter and sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake about. 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. Cool the cake in the pan for about 20 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.