Lemon, Hazelnut and Rhubarb Cake
Serves 8 – 10
260g unsalted butter, really soft
225g white spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
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:
1 bunch of pink rhubarb (approx 400g)
250g caster sugar
350ml double cream
2-3 tbsp honey
fresh flowers to decorate (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180 ºC (170ºC fan). Grease and flour 2 x 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich tins.
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 releasing 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.
To make the cake, simply sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and beat in all the other ingredients using an electric hand mixer or Kitchenaid. Be careful not to over mix – you want a light cake. Scrape the cake mixture into your prepared 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 and cool completely. If making ahead of time, the sponges can be double-wrapped in foil and frozen. Be sure to defrost thoroughly before filling.
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 4cms. 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 rhubarb batons from the syrup. Reserve approx half for the top of the cake and puree the remainder with a hand-held blender, adding a splash of water to loosen. Chill the poached and pureed rhubarb until you’re ready to assemble the cake. If making ahead of time, the prepared rhubarb will happy sit covered in the fridge for 24 hours.
When you are ready to fill and assemble your cake, prepare the honey cream filling by lightly whip the cream until very soft peaks form. Drizzle in the honey and whisk again until incorporated.
If your cakes are very peaked you may wish to trim the tops so that you have 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 puree, 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.