2019 seems to be the year when I’m cultivating colds. Most years I’m pretty good, catching one or two at the most, and they tend to be light. This year? It’s not even properly the end of April yet, and I’m on cold #3.5. And the first two were nasty. So what is going on here? I have no idea. Blaming stress seems the easy way out and y’all know what we do for stress hereabouts, right?
We cook and we write.
So that’s what I did last weekend. Over 7000 words of writing, mostly Repeat Offence with a few Healing Glass promo posts thrown in to make it interesting, and then I headed for the kitchen. Because while out shopping, I’d picked up the first of this season’s haul of rhubarb and my husband fancied a cake.
Never mind I’m supposed to be cutting back on the carbs. The first rhubarb needs a cake. A special one, with a topping that I don’t have a proper English name for. That custard topping is crucial. For one, because it stops the delicate rhubarb from drying out while it cooks. And for another, because rhubarb and custard is a thing. (and please, don’t sing it!) And it tastes fabulous.
And then it occurred to me that – apart from a bit of sugar – the carbs are mostly in the base, and I decided to experiment with a base that wasn’t so carb-heavy. It also turned out gluten-free. And delicious.
What’s it made of? Ground almonds, a touch of coconut flour, baking powder, vanilla extract, eggs and some sugar.
And it’s delicious. Just in case you didn’t catch that the first time around.
So… for a lower-carb version of my favourite rhubarb and custard cake, here’s what you do:
Rhubarb and Custard Cake with Almond Flour Base
1. make a very, very thick custard – sweeten to taste – and let it go cold. (We’re talking stand a spoon in it custard, right?)
2. heat oven to 350°F / 170°C and grease a shallow cake tin. I like the ones with a removable base. If you don’t have one of those, line your tin with baking parchement and grease lightly.
3. peel rhubarb and cut into lengths
4. get two large bowls and six large eggs. Separate four of the eggs – yolks in one bowl, whites in another. Separate the other two eggs, whites in the bowl with the others, but put the yolks in your cold custard and stir to combine. If your custard isn’t cold, you’ll get scrambled eggs, so… you’ve been warned!
5. get a third bowl and fill it with 120g (1/2 cup) ground almonds / almond flour, 1 tablespoon coconut flour, a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Stir until nicely combined. (I’m told coconut flour can be lumpy. Mine isn’t, but if you see lumps, put your flour through a sieve.)
6. grab the bowl with the egg yolks. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 60g (1/8 cup) sugar and beat together until well combined
7. next, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Add 60g (1/8 cup) sugar in small increments and keep beating between each addition until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are stiff and glossy. (Like making meringue)
8. Now for the fun part: take the bowl with the egg yolks. Give them another quick stir. Pour in the dry ingredients and mix. This will make a very stiff dough that may come away from the sides of the bowl and turn into a lump. Don’t worry. Add 2/3 of your beaten egg white mix one tablespoon at the time and FOLD in. Don’t stir too vigorously, or you’ll lose all the air. The very stiff dough you started with will get soft and floppy.
9. Pour the dough into your greased cake tin and then add the rhubarb on top.
10. Get your custard and FOLD IN the remaining eggwhite mix, again keeping as much air as you can. Then pour this mix over the rhubarb.
11. Place on baking tray and bake in the middle of the oven until the top is golden with flecks of brown and a skewer comes out clean if you poke it in the middle. For my small cake tin, that takes about half an hour. When I make a traybake, it can take an hour. I usually set the clock for 20mins and then check at 10min intervals after that.
Leave to cool before turning out and enjoy…