This cake is so particularly dear to me because of its simplicity and because of its messiness. These are two things I love. Much of the time, I can’t be bothered with a fancy crème patissiere or spun sugar. I just want to make cake so I can shove it my mouth shortly afterwards. This one fills that role better than most. Yes, the custard is shop-bought. To some this might be sacrilege and I urge those people to get a life. Making your own custard is delicious, but it’s time consuming and daunting if you’ve never done it before. This cake isn’t about that. Don’t go for any old custard, though. It’s worth looking in the chilled aisle and getting stuff that you can see has proper vanilla seeds floating around in it. This is definitely not an Ambrosia situation, as much as I love it. Custard powder should be avoided at all costs. Weird, nostalgic associations aside.
First, preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Grease a deep 7-8 inch cake tin with plenty of butter, then line the bottom with a disc of baking paper. If it isn’t non-stick paper, grease that too. If you’ve only got two shallow tins, don’t worry. Split it between two, and check it after half the time in the oven later on.
Weigh out your butter into a mixing bowl. If it isn’t very soft, give it a buzz in the microwave. Don’t worry if you melt it a bit. After it’s very soft, add in your sugar and eggs and beat these three ingredients together with a spoon or whisk until you’ve got a smooth paste.
Add in your flour and the baking powder (don’t bother sieving any of it), then mix these in gently. Use a large wooden or metal spoon for this; definitely don’t let an electric mixer near it. The flour should only JUST be combined.
Pour this mixture into your tin. Chop up your rhubarb if it’s fresh or drain it if it’s frozen, the scatter this on top of your cake mix. This will sink in during baking, so don’t worry about it burning on top.
Place your cake in the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until it is springy to the touch and a skewer comes out clean when pressed into the middle. This may vary depending on your oven. Once baked, leave it to cool in the tin.
Once completely cool, and preferably just before serving, dollop all the custard on top of the cake so it goes everywhere. Enjoy as the perfect pudding, then keep the rest for afternoon snack with a cup of tea.
For a wee twist and fiery kick, try adding a heaped teaspoon of ground ginger into your cake mix with your flour and baking powder.