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Seasonal delights: Rhubarb and blood oranges

Rhubarb and blood orange cake

One of the things I love about food and cooking is its seasonality. Just as you are ready for a shakeup, something new seems to come in and changes what you are doing in the kitchen. Now I know that not everyone has time to be influenced down at the veg shop or chat to the fishmonger for 20 minutes, but that is the whole spirit in which I started the fuss free foodie: I am here to be the voice to steer you in the right direction!

January can be a bleak time in the growing stakes, so by the end of the month, like glowing ruby red jewels, we get rhubarb! At this time it’s forced (grown in the dark), usually from Yorkshire, so a great British product! It’s more slender, and tender than its field counterpart that grows outside in April, although the late season rhubarb can have more flavour. However, grateful for something new I was excited to see it, along with blood oranges, and funnily enough they work together beautifully!

Rhubarb and blood orange cake Mark 2
So after many attempts to make something tasty and fuss free, I am really happy with this final recipe, which is a beautiful Victoria style sponge with sharp rhubarb and sweet orange drizzle. I made 3 different cakes to be precise; The cake picture is mark 2 and this final recipe has the fruit inside the cake, but I gave it away and forgot to picture it! I was so over cake!!

It’s a quick cake to make and one that children could help with too. I keep it fast by throwing all the cake ingredients into my blender and just whizzing it up until they are just mixed together. If you have all your ingredients to room temperature (especially the butter), the batter can be ready within a few mins, and then it cooks for 30 minutes…..pretty fuss free! I chose to do a little blood orange drizzle just to infuse a little more sweetness to the sponge, and build the orange flavour.

If a cake isn’t your thing, but you still fancy a bit of rhubarb and orange to have with some yoghurt, weekend pancakes or porridge (like my eldest) why not try making this fuss-free rhubarb and blood orange compote. This will also freeze really well, so if you divide it up into portions you could pull it out as and when you need some…. any time of year!!

As always please let me know what you make in the Fuss Free Facebook group or drop a comment below. Happy cooking! Lisa.

Rhubarb and blood orange cake

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees, 23cm springform cake tin, buttered and lined

225g unsalted butter, soft
225g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour, save 2 tbsp to one side
4 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
300g rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
Zest of 3 blood oranges
Juice of 2-3 blood oranges
100g icing sugar sieved

    1. Have your oven preheated at the right temperature, and cake tin ready, as this comes together very quickly!
    2. Place the butter, caster sugar, self-raising flour, baking powder, eggs, orange zest and 5 tablespoons of blood orange juice into a blender or food mixer.
    3. Mix all the ingredients until they are just incorporated. Dust the rhubarb in the remaining flour, and then fold through the cake batter. Place the batter into the lined tin and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer/cocktail stick comes out clean.
    4. Whilst the cake is cooling slightly, mix 40ml of blood orange juice with the icing sugar until smooth.
    5. Once cooled for 5 minutes, turn out the cake on your cake stand (the right way round; I turn mine onto a plate and then onto my cake stand)
    6. Prick the cake with a cocktail stick, and pour over the orange drizzle to soak into the cake. Serve however you like…just enjoy!

Forget the fuss…

  1. Mixture curdled? Don’t worry, your cake will be fine
  2. Butter not soft? Chop it into cubes and place in a bowl in the oven (or top oven if you have one) to warm slightly…..just don’t forget about it!
  3. No blood oranges? Just use clementines, or whatever oranges you can find
  4. Cake browning too quickly? Always wait 20 minutes before you open the oven, but if it is browning on the top too fast cover with a piece of tin foil
  5. No blender or food mixture? Go old school: Cream together the butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time with a spoon of flour, fold in the rest of the flour, zest and juice and leave out the baking powder. Bake as above

Rhubarb and blood orange compote

400g rhubarb, cut into chunks
100g granulated or light brown sugar
100ml blood orange juice

  1. Place the rhubarb chunks in a saucepan. Add the sugar and orange juice.
  2. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 25-30 minutes until the rhubarb has reduced. Stir occasionally to avoid it sticking.
  3. When most of the juice has reduced, cool and then refrigerate. Separate into individual portions and freeze if you want to store for another day!
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