After nearly ten years in Sheffield, I still get excited about the first Yorkshire rhubarb. Forced in dark sheds on farms in the famous Rhubarb Triangle (roughly between Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield), it comes out the most glorious shade of pink.
This delicate, early crop is quite different from the coarse stuff that comes along later. The challenge is always to find a recipe that does it justice. It’s pretty much perfect when simply roasted with sugar and a vanilla pod; however this year I experimented a bit and came up with something I think is just as good.
Behold: Rhubarb Sharlotka.
This is a winner on all counts. It tastes fabulous and really lets the rhubarb flavour sing. It is quick and easy to make. Also, unbelievably, it is cake without the calories. Or with fewer calories, anyway. No fat, apart from what is in the eggs, and only a small amount of flour. I had to bulk out the rhubarb with a cooking apple. Rhubarb and apple are great together, but purists could always replace the apple with a couple more sticks of rhubarb.
7 sticks Yorkshire rhubarb
I medium cooking apple
4 medium eggs
200 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125 grams plain flour
I cooked it in a deep, non-stick cake tin with a 20cm removable base.
:: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
:: Line the base of the tin and butter the sides.
:: Chop the rhubarb and apple into robust chunks and pile them into the tin.
:: Beat the eggs with the sugar until thick. The whisk should leave trails in the egg mixture.
:: Beat in the vanilla extract.
:: Lightly stir in the flour.
:: Tip the batter over the rhubarb and apple and smooth the surface. You need to press down a bit too, to encourage it to penetrate the gaps between the chunks of fruit.
:: Bake for 55 minutes. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar, on its own or with cream or crème fraîche. A mug of Yorkshire tea would be a fine accompaniment.