Rhubarb’s the star

2 Jul

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I ♥ rhubarb. Absolutely love it, the fresh, ever so fruity smell of the stuff and that tangy suck your teeth taste. I remember, as a nipper, plucking thick stalks of rhubarb from the garden to eat raw & dipped in a cup of sugar. Delicious!

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Naturally, raw rhubarb isn’t to everyone’s taste – least of all Mr Cakes, so these days I prefer to stew said veg (yes, it’s a vegetable, not a fruit) with some sugar just to take the edge off. Its simple enough to do, just trim the tops and tails of the rhubarb stalks and give them a rinse. Chop into chunks and put in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of water and the same of sugar (more, or less to taste!) Take heed of Nigel Slater’s advice regarding the receptacle you use … “Only heatproof glass, enamelled cast iron and stainless steel are suitable materials for cooking utensils that come into contact with the oxalic acid present in this pretty vegetable. Simmer your pink stalks in an aluminium pan and you will end up with a seriously nasty metallic-tasting – if not downright poisonous – pudding.”

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What you can see here is a rhubarb and star anise steamed sponge pudding. Technically this is not a bake, I hope you don’t mind! The combination of aniseedy star anise and the sweet & sour rhubarb has to be tried – the star anise almost sweetens the tangy rhubarb.

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Rhubarb and Star Anise Steamed Sponge Puddings

Makes 4 individual puddings

Ingredients
300g stewed & sweetened rhubarb
100g golden caster sugar
100g butter
2 tsp ground star anise
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
100g self-raising flour

Method
1. Grease 4 ramekins or small pudding basins and spoon the stewed rhubarb into the dishes.
2. Cream together the butter and the sugar, and when light and fluffy beat in the eggs 1 at a time, adding a half of the star anise and vanilla as you do so. Finally mix in the flour.
3. Divide the sponge mix between the dishes, don’t worry if the sponge mix sinks into the rhubarb. This makes the pudding all the better!
4. Cover the dishes with foil and secure with string, steam for 30 minutes.
5. Eat and enjoy! We had ours with custard, another classic combo!

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I ground my own star anise – just pop a few whole stars into a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder. You can sieve out any larger woody bits that you don’t want in your cake. And a word about the vanilla extract, I like Taylor & Colledge Vanilla Bean Paste – almost as good as using a fresh pod.

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