Let’s start by saying if you plan on making this cake the day before and photographing it on the following day don’t. The juicy rhubarb topping combined with the humidity here in Brisbane lead to an unattractive sag in the middle. While this cake may not win any beauty awards, don’t let appearances deceive you because this is Rhubarb and Orange Blossom Cake is a beautiful, simple and delicious cake.
Much like this pear, chocolate and cardamom cake (which, if you’re a pear lover, you must try), this Rhubarb and Orange Blossom cake looks fairly plain and simple on the surface. But there’s a surprise hidden inside, and that is the addition of beautifully fragrant orange blossom water, sometimes called orange flower water.
Open a bottle of orange blossom water and it’s difficult not to be transported on the delightfully fragrant cloud of perfume that wafts through the air the minute it’s opened. The scent invokes memories of beautiful sun filled spring days, picnicking as a little girl on my Grandparents front lawn under their cherry blossom tree.
Orange Blossom Water is a perfumed distillation of blossoms from orange trees, and was reportedly a favourite of Cleopatra and Marie Antoinette, who used it as a perfume and also to scent linens. If you haven’t tried it before it’s worth tracking down, and is available in most gourmet food and health food stores. But if you can’t get your hands on any try adding the zest of an orange, or some ground cardamom to the cake batter in it’s place. The effect won’t quite be the same, but delicious nonetheless.
- 170g (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 tsp orange blossom water
- 1½ cups plain flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 3 stalks of rhubarb
- 2 tsp sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 160 celsius (325 Fahrenheit) and grease a 22cm (9 inches) x 12cm (5 inches) loaf pan.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides, and add the eggs, one at a time, along with the orange blossom water, and mix until combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder, soda and salt along with the yoghurt and mix until just combined.
- Pour into the loaf pan and spread out evenly. Trim the rhubarb stalks to fit the pan and place along the top of the cake and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cake is browned and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and remove from the pan and place on cooling rack to cool completely.