Rhubarb and date cake

First rhubarb harvest of the season and I have a bumper early crop.  You have to keep on harvesting to keep it cropping.  The first stalks are always the best coloured and such a joy to use.  Rhubarb is so Mumsy and Grandmumsy and while round here the ultimate cool evening treat is a Rhubarb Crumble this cake recipe is great to make because it is easy, requires no concentration and you can eat it on a sunny spring day not just cool wintery nights.

This recipe is a really easy and comes from a fantastic book which was put out last year by Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in Wellington.  My friend Rosalba sent me a copy which has been used and used in my kitchen and is looking rather stained and well loved.  That is really the ultimate compliment for a cookbook, you can judge my good cookbooks by the stains.  I make the recipe slightly differently from the instructions in the book, using my food processor to mix the butter into the flour, but you don’t have to.  It makes a moist cake – pudding style, and is totally delicious.  The standing time is important to firm it up, don’t rush it even though the smell will be tempting you to hurry it along.

I think on a cooler night this would be fantastic with custard or yoghurt, but it is warm at the moment and so I served it just by itself in big generous slices.  It was all gobbled up in about 10 minutes by the four of us.  The ultimate sign of a great cake!

170g self-raising flour, 100g margarine (I always use butter), 120g caster sugar, 250g rhubarb (approx 6), 120g chopped dates, 1 large egg, about 4tblsp milk

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C  and Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.

Sift flour, add margarine (or butter) chopped into small pieces. Rub in until evenly distributed (or blitz in food processor), then stir in the sugar.  Wipe and cut rhubarb into small cubes then add to flour, add the dates with milk together and stir into other ingredients.  Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is golden and gorgeous.  Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool.  Freezes well.

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