Rhubarb is almost in full swing of its season!

Rhubarb is a strong flavoured vegetable, well known for its presence in comforting puddings but its sharp flavour also makes it a beautiful compliment to meat and oily fish. Forced rhubarb, featured in this recipe and grown in the dark, is characterised by its yellowish leaves and tender texture.

Unlike outdoor varieties, forced roots are grown in fields for two years, where they store energy and are moved into forcing sheds after November frosts.

They are then grown in complete darkness and harvested by candlelight, to avoid photosynthesis turning them green and tough, explains fourth generation farmer Janet Oldroyd Hume.

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The Ancient Chinese used to use Rhubarb as a medicine, from there it was brought over to Europe by Marco Polo and has been eaten here since the Eighteenth Century. Rhubarb is a great source of fibre and contains a reasonable dose of Vitamin C. Also, the fibre found in rhubarb has been found to help reduce cholesterol. 

Steamed Rhubarb Sponge with Vanilla Ice Cream

A guide image using blackberries instead of Rhubarb.

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Ingredients
Serves 6

350g rhubarb diced, do not peel (100g made into a puree and 250g cooked for a few minutes in sugar syrup, just to take away the bite)

3 large eggs, separated
100g castor sugar
½ vanilla pod (split)
20g butter, melted
150ml buttermilk
190g self raising flour, sifted
½ teaspoon baking powder

Method

• Preheat the oven to 180’c
• Butter and sugar (caster sugar) 6 x 200ml pudding moulds, then divide the 250g of cooled rhubarb between the moulds.
• Beat the egg whites until a stiff peak.
• In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the egg yolk mix, then stir in the melted butter and buttermilk
• Gently mix in the flour and baking powder to form a batter, then fold in the egg whites.
• Spoon the mix into the prepared moulds leaving a slight gap at the top of the mould. Stand the moulds in a water bath and cover with buttered tin foil, cook for 30min rotating after 15min, remove from the water bath, allow to sit for a few minutes.

To serve

Turn out the sponge into the centre of the bowl, pour a little of the rhubarb puree over the top and serve with vanilla ice cream.

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