Tart fruit meets its match

Photo: Peter McIntosh
Photo: Peter McIntosh
I have published a number of recipes using rhubarb. Its sharp, surprising flavour is perfect in cakes, muffins and pies.

It purees well, combining with custards, yoghurt and cream to make scrumptious ice cream and fools.

It's also the perfect foil for roast pork. Pork’s relatively delicate flavour is enhanced by a rhubarb marinade.

So no apologies for another rhubarb recipe. This moist rhubarb and coconut-packed cake with its sweet-tart flavour is deliciously different.

The sourness of rhubarb has an amazing affinity with the creamy, nutty sweetness of coconut and there is enough sweetness in the cake to balance the fruit's tangy intensity.

Serve warm or cold, on its own or with a dollop of thick cream or Greek yoghurt.

I especially like the slender-stalked rosy-red rhubarb for its superior flavour and appearance. It's also very easy to grow.

Rhubarb and coconut cake

Makes 21cm cake

Cuts into 16-20 slices

350g rhubarb stalks, trimmed, any thick stalks split lengthways, sliced into half-centimetre lengths

240g plain flour

2½ tsp baking powder

100g dessicated coconut

200g caster sugar

80g softened butter

3 large eggs, size 7

¾ cup plain unsweetened yoghurt

1 tsp vanilla extract


90g rhubarb stalks, sliced into ½cm lengths

2 Tbsp raw sugar


Heat the oven to 180degC.

Line the base of a 21cm round cake tin with non-stick baking paper and lightly oil the sides.

Assemble the topping ingredients first. Place the 90g prepared rhubarb in a small bowl and measure the sugar into another but do not combine the two until just prior to sprinkling over the cake. If combined too soon, too much juice seeps from the rhubarb.

To make the cake

Place 350g prepared rhubarb in a bowl and set aside.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and stir in the coconut. Add the rhubarb and toss through the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the caster sugar, softened butter and eggs until thick. The mixture will curdle but this does not matter. Gently beat in the yoghurt and vanilla.

Tip this eggy mixture into the bowl containing the flour and rhubarb and gently fold all together. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top.

Stir the topping ingredients together and sprinkle evenly over the top of the cake.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 70-80 minutes. The cake should be well risen, lightly golden and firm to the touch, and a skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for about half an hour. Use a knife to loosen the sides, then carefully invert on to the rack. Remove the paper and turn right side up. Leave to cool.

This is a moist cake so I suggest you store it covered in the fridge. It will keep for 5-6 days. Stand at room temperature for about half an hour before serving.

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