This crowd-pleaser of a cake is delicious served with cream for dessert and (if there’s any left!) with an afternoon cuppa the next day
Lemon, hazelnut and rhubarb cake
225g white spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
260g unsalted butter, really soft
4 large free-range eggs
130g honey (or golden caster sugar)
130g maple syrup
finely grated zest of 1 large unwaxed lemon
For the filling and topping
250g caster sugar
1 bunch of pink rhubarb (approx 400g)
350ml double cream
2-3 tbsp honey
fresh flowers to decorate (optional)
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/350F. Grease and flour two 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich tins.
2 Start by toasting the hazelnuts in the oven for 5-7 minutes; check after 5 minutes as they can burn easily. Once they are starting to change colour and release their lovely nutty aroma, remove them from the oven and leave to cool for a minute or two before rubbing off most of the skins. Whizz the nuts in a food processor into a fine meal.
3 To make the cake, sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and beat in all the other ingredients using an electric hand mixer. Be careful not to over mix – you want a light cake. Scrape the mixture into your tins and level the tops with the back of a spoon or a palette knife. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes are golden and risen and a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before carefully taking them out of their tins and placing on a cooling rack to cool completely. If making ahead of time, the sponges can be double-wrapped in foil and frozen. Be sure to defrost thoroughly before filling.
4 To make the rhubarb topping, mix the caster sugar with 250ml of water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, cut the rhubarb into batons of approx 4cm. Add the batons to the boiling sugar syrup, then immediately remove the pan from the heat. Leave the rhubarb batons in the syrup as it cools. Use a slotted spoon to remove the batons from the syrup. Reserve approx half for the top of the cake and purée the remainder with a hand-held blender, adding a splash of water to loosen. Chill the poached and puréed rhubarb until you’re ready to assemble the cake. If making ahead of time, the rhubarb can sit covered in the fridge for 24 hours.
5 When you are ready to fill and assemble your cake, prepare the honey cream filling by lightly whipping the cream until very soft peaks form. Drizzle in the honey and whisk again until incorporated.
6 If your cakes are very peaked, you may wish to trim the tops for a nice flat surface to decorate. Carefully place one cake on your cake plate, spoon over two thirds of the honey cream, marbling through 1-2 tbsp of the rhubarb purée, and place the second cake on top. Spread the remaining third of honey cream on the top of the second cake, then top with the poached rhubarb and a few seasonal flowers, if you wish.
For the full Easter Gathering menu and projects - Fish pie with crunchy salmon and leek topping, Lemon, hazelnut and rhubarb cake, Felt bunny ears, Dip-dyed place-names - turn to page 24 of the March issue of The Simple Things.