Some of the best cakes are those that bridge the gap between dessert and cake – chocolate cakes are often best at this (served warm with a scoop of ice cream) or ginger cake with a drizzle of caramel sauce. Crumble cakes are absolutely excellent with a pool of vanilla custard, and none more so than a rhubarb cake.
When forced rhubarb comes into season around early February it really signals the end of Winter for me, even if the weather is yet to catch up. Vivid pink rhubarb is so cheerful and I’ll buy some most weeks in February – it’s great on porridge or granola, in cakes or obviously made into crumble.
These muffins are heavy on the vanilla, with a little orange and almond in there too, with a crisp brown sugar top and a light sponge all finished off with sharply flavoured pink rhubarb.
I made these in a muffin tray but feel free to bake as a whole cake, bake in a 20cm tin for 25-35 minutes at 170c..
Rhubarb crumble muffins
makes around 18 muffins
1 tbsp caster sugar
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extra
1 tsp orange extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
250g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
splash of milk
75g cold unsalted butter
75g plain flour
25g light muscovado sugar
50g flaked almonds
Line 1 1/2 deep muffin trays with paper liners. Preheat your oven to gas mark 170c.
Chop the rhubarb into 2cm pieces and then sprinkle with 1 tbsp caster sugar, set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon or electric whisk, or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs in one by one until fully combined, and then pour in the extracts. Mix briefly then fold in the flour. If it looks a little dry, add some milk and very briefly mix.
Distribute the cake mixture between the muffin tins, they should be 2/3 full and then top each muffin with 5-6 pieces of rhubarb.
Rub the cold butter into the flour until it resembles rough breadcrumbs (you can also use a food processor!). Stir in the sugar, breaking up any large pieces. While you add in the sugar try to clump some of the buttery pieces together, so you get a rubbly crumble top.
Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the muffins and then add the flaked almonds and a little demerara sugar.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the rhubarb is soft and the cake just cooked through. Leave to cool. You can also eat these just warm with custard, maybe not can but definitely should.
Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. The crumble will become softer after a day, but you can warm the muffins in the over for 5 minutes to get a crisp top once again.