Rhubarb Custard Tea Cake

24 March 2012

Post image for Rhubarb Custard Tea Cake

My parents used to sell a cake in their bakery which was made of two brioche-like sponges, sandwiched together with a thick, bright yellow custard and sprinkled on top with flaked almonds. This vanilla-rich cake was called a Bee-Sting, a funny name for a cake which I didn’t think much about as a child, preferring to concentrate my efforts on how many slices I could eat before my mum would put the remaining slices out on the counter to sell. Thinking now about the name, I can only laugh out loud at what it might imply!

When I first flicked through The Cake Stall by The Australian Women’s Weekly, I came across this recipe for Rhubarb Custard Tea Cake and was instantly reminded of the Bee-Sting. But unlike the Bee-Sting where the custard is added after the cake is baked, here, the custard layer is baked as part of the cake, producing a wonderfully layered cake straight from the oven. I couldn’t wait to try this recipe but first had to wait for rhubarb to come into season. And when I spotted the bright pink stems at the supermarket recently, I knew that I had a treat in store.

Being an Australian Women’s Weekly recipe, this cake is fairly easy to put together, not least because the custard is made using custard powder, an ingredient which is also incorporated into the cake batter to provide some colour (yellow), add flavour (vanilla) and also create lightness (from the cornflour). I used Bird’s custard powder in this recipe, but you could use any brand you like.

Although the recipe stipulates 300 g (about 4 stalks) of rhubarb, I found that I barely used one stalk. My husband would be the first to tell you that maths is not my strong point, and I couldn’t for the life of me work out how to fit more rhubarb onto the cake, particularly if I was using the photo in the book as a guide. I guess one could squeeze in more rhubarb on top of the cake, with the prerequisite of some geometry skills. The rhubarb shrinks ever so slightly on baking but more or less keeps its shape.

The cake itself tastes delicious and is sure to impress at any afternoon tea party. I was relieved to find that the custard layer was firm upon slicing, yet with still enough wobble to provide a contrasting texture to the cake. Though I can’t help but feel that the cake could have benefitted from some more rhubarb, perhaps as an additional layer above the custard. Maybe I’ll try that next time. For now, I’m super-pleased with this recipe and would happily make it again.

Rhubarb Custard Tea Cake … the long way

If custard powder is not available where you live, I would suggest replacing the custard powder in the cake batter with an equal quantity of cornflour (cornstarch) plus a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract. For the custard layer in the cake, I would suggest making a custard from scratch using cornflour (cornstarch) as a thickener.

The following is a recipe which I have tried and tested, producing an equally-delicious cake. You won’t have the same bright yellow colour in both the cake and custard, but this version is certainly much more elegant, owing in part to the pale yellow custard which is flecked with vanilla seeds.

As a slight variation to the cake above, and in an attempt to squeeze more rhubarb into the cake, this time I sliced the rhubarb into 1 cm pieces and arranged them on top of the cake before sprinkling with granulated sugar. The result is a much more rustic-looking cake than the previous version, but it still looked and tasted delicious.

 A Few Notes

Thank you to those who have tried this wonderful cake and have left some valuable feedback. Your comments are always much appreciated, both for me and other readers who would like to try this recipe.

When making this cake, please bear in mind that, because the batter does not contain any liquid, it will be quite thick but it should still be spreadable. So rather than pouring the batter into the cake tin as you would usually, here, you will be spooning and dolloping the mixture into the tin, coaxing it with a small spoon or spatula to make it cover the area of the tin. The stiff batter had me a little worried when I first made the cake, but I was pleasantly surprised by how it turned out. Though, I shouldn’t have been surprised since the recipes by the Australian Women’s Weekly are triple-tested!

So don’t be too alarmed if your batter is thicker than your usual cake batter. Trust that it will work out in the end :-)

When applying the batter on top of the custard, one trick is to dollop small spoonfuls across the surface, and to then use a small spoon or spatula to join up each dollop before evening out the layer. This is much easier than dolloping half the batter onto the custard and trying to spread it out!

Despite these tips to handle the thick batter, this recipe is rather simple to follow and I hope you will give it a try :-)

{ 117 comments… read them below or add one }

Amber 24 March 2012 at 3:32 pm

ooooh! I have an unopened tub of custard powder that expires next month and I was trying to figure out what to do with it!


eat, little bird 24 March 2012 at 3:41 pm

Hi Amber! Well, if there was ever a good use for that tub of custard powder … 😉 I usually only use custard powder for a few recipes and was happy to use the generous amounts required for this one. It was well worth it!


Hannah de Bevy de La Faverge 24 March 2012 at 3:40 pm

oh my Creme I’m definitely bookmarking this one, sounds and looks superb!! Can’t wait until I get my hands on some rhubarb!


eat, little bird 24 March 2012 at 3:44 pm

Oh I do hope you will come across some rhubarb soon! I’m having a lot of fun at the moment using it in different recipes, though I suppose this cake would also work with another fruit topping, something I will keep in mind when rhubarb is no longer in season.


Caroline 24 March 2012 at 5:06 pm

Gosh WHAT a pretty, spring coloured, happy cake!!! LOVE the photos, they are beautiful Thanh. I must see if Rhubarb is available here now, the good stuff that is. Love this post…:-))


eat, little bird 24 March 2012 at 6:11 pm

Oh thank you, Carrie! I’ve gone a bit crazy with rhubarb lately but this is my last splurge, and thankfully it was well worth it :-) I have a friend in your neck of the woods who is also on the lookout for rhubarb – hopefully there is a fresh supply somewhere!


Caroline 24 March 2012 at 8:18 pm

I’ve seen them but they were priced at 15 Gbp a kilo! Arrh! and they were horribly limp and wilted!

I can’t stop staring at this cake! The colour combo, with that deep bubblegum pink and the Big Bird yellow are ridiculously attractive!


eat, little bird 24 March 2012 at 11:26 pm

That’s about the Swiss price for rhubarb! It’s a bit of a splurge, even by Swiss standards, but I’m justifying it on the basis that it’s an occasional treat.

And I agree about the colours – the pink from the rhubarb is really surprising in this cake. We had friends over this evening for coffee and they were somewhat curious about the pink topping on this cake and were pleasantly surprised when they found it was rhubarb.


Jo 24 March 2012 at 6:24 pm

Wow I thought this was a special tin you had Thanh to create the beautiful “individual portion” look to the top of the cake, can’t believe how perfect it has come out just putting the rhubarb on the top. I’ve never had rhubarb but I think I’ve found the recipe to try it with 😉


eat, little bird 24 March 2012 at 11:28 pm

Goodness, you’ve never tried rhubarb?? Oh I think you will love it! Knowing you and your fondness for bright and cheery colours in the kitchen, I think you would like this cake :-)


Jo 24 March 2012 at 6:25 pm

P.s. I cannot tell you just how much I LOVE the pink of this rhubarb and the choice of pink you used for the recipe – I so want to use this as my screen saver! 😀


eat, little bird 24 March 2012 at 11:29 pm

LOL!! As you can see, I’m having fun with pink at the moment :-)


Jo 11 April 2012 at 2:09 pm

Oh Thanh I just put your cake in t’oven annoy I realised far too late I forgot the baking powder – waaaaa! Abd my vanilla extract turned the Big Bird yellow of the custard muddy yellow plus it seemed like there was not enough batter and it was so stiff, I couldn’t spread it over the custard completely :'(. Am so gutted – I just hope it comes out edible!


Jo 11 April 2012 at 4:13 pm

Phew! It looks good if half the size it should be. Oh well, it will be more pudding than tea cake but next time I’ll be sure to put the baking powder in! Looking through all the reviews here I might pipe the mixture next time too though once baked, the batter did join up to cover the custard in all but one teeny spot! Xxx


eat, little bird 11 April 2012 at 5:50 pm

Oh shame about the baking powder but from what I’ve seen on your FB page, the cake turned out beautifully!! It might taste a bit dense without the baking powder, but hopefully still delicious :-)

Perhaps some brands of vanilla extract might muddy the custard and you could possibly leave it out, considering that the custard powder has vanilla flavouring in it. I rather like the Big Bird yellow colour :-)

I’ve updated the recipe above to mention that it is a thick batter. It was something that got me a bit nervous the first time I made it, but it worked out perfectly that I didn’t give it a second thought the second time around. So the batter is not like your usual, runny cake batter, but something quite thick that you have to coax to cover the cake tin. This perhaps explains why the cake is somewhat crumbly upon slicing, but I think the batter needs to be thickish so that you can achieve these lovely layers.

Thanks for giving this recipe a go and I hope your colleagues will enjoy the cake :-)


Pamela 24 March 2012 at 10:02 pm

Lovely! Just wish I could eat it rather than stare at it. Good old Women’s Weekly cookbooks. They really are so reliable, as you know.


eat, little bird 24 March 2012 at 11:32 pm

Hi Pamela! Indeed, I love the AWW! I know the talk these days is all about cookbooks which have character and stories behind each recipe, but sometimes all you want is just a simple recipe, and the AWW do simple recipes really well. I loved this particular book the moment I picked it up and there are still quite a few more recipes I want to try.


The Food Sage 25 March 2012 at 2:07 am

Wow – this looks amazing. I’m sending this recipe to my mam in the UK. We forage for wild rhubarb whenever i go home – and i look forward to making this cake with her next time. Thanks for sharing.


eat, little bird 25 March 2012 at 11:40 am

Hi Rachel! Oh that’s so sweet of you to think of your mam. It would be so satsifying to make a cake like this with rhubarb you have either grown or collected yourself. Please let me know if you manage to use more rhubarb in the cake than I did!


Julia 25 March 2012 at 12:33 pm

What a fabulous looking cake, i thought you had some magic fluted tin to bake it in, lovely. I think this may be my easter cake this year!

Re using more roobarb how about first an inch if batter, then a layer of fruit etc so basically you have two gorgeous pink layers one top one bottom?

I got stunning pink slender stalks for just £1.50/lb the other day, wish it was shippable!!!


eat, little bird 25 March 2012 at 1:51 pm

Wow! What a bargain price for rhubarb!

I was also thinking of a layer of rhubarb somewhere in the middle of the cake, probably on top of the custard but am not sure if it might sink during baking. Guess there’s only one way to find out!

I haven’t even thought of what I might make for Easter this year yet but I’m glad this might be on your list :-)


Lauren 25 March 2012 at 5:01 pm

What a beautiful cake! I have rhubarb growing in my garden, but I don’t think it’s quite big enough for this cake yet! Maybe in a couple of months 😉


eat, little bird 26 March 2012 at 9:43 am

Thank you! How lucky you are to have rhubarb in your garden. I was tempted to grow some on our balcony but the guy at the nursery told me that it would be a year or two before the plant would grow rhubarb that was actually edible. Not to mention that I would need a massive pot to make it worthwhile! I hope you will find good uses for your homegrown rhubarb :-)


XL @ 6 Bittersweets 25 March 2012 at 10:13 pm

This looks gorgeous and so delicious! I love custard and rhubarb but have never tried them together.


eat, little bird 26 March 2012 at 9:44 am

Thank you!! A friend of mine recently mentioned making custard and thought about mixing in some rhubarb, which sounded absolutely delicious. It reminded me of this cake and the combination is indeed lovely.


Kayleigh 26 March 2012 at 2:38 am

I will MOST certainly be trying this as soon as those pink sprouts are visible! It looks very scrumptious and sweet.


eat, little bird 26 March 2012 at 9:45 am

Hi Kayleigh, ooh please let me know if you do try this cake. I would love to hear your thoughts!


Sam-I-am 26 March 2012 at 9:35 am

WOW Creme, this cake is sooooo beautiful its rediculous! I could not stop starring at it! You did a beautiful job of it, trully, and the photos do it justice! Mum is in London for a few days, so far I have asked for jars of Stem Ginger and Morello Cherries, am now thinking of adding Bird’s eye Custard, as I keep reading that it is the best! We have custard powder here off course, but….The Rhubbarbs here are as Caroline described them. People don’t really know what they are, so they go limp, and the supermarket are not encouraged to get anymore….I did splurge on a good bit a few years back, if I find good ones again, I might just go ahead and get them and make this cake for my lovely Dad who introduced me to Rhubarb and loves a piece of cake with his ‘no sugar, no milk’ afternoon coffee ‘I get all that from the cake’ he says. He is right! Again WOW!


eat, little bird 26 March 2012 at 9:50 am

Hi Sam!! Oh I’m glad you like the look of this cake It does look pretty fancy, doesn’t it? And especially since that’s how it looked coming straight out of the oven! Although the original recipe called for 4 stalks of rhubarb, I only managed to use 1 stalk (weighing about 100 g), so I suppose a good thing about this cake is that it doesn’t require too much of that expensive and exotic rhubarb. The cake disappeared in less than a day and I’m wondering if I should make it again from the leftover rhubarb?!

I love having a tub of Bird’s Custard Powder in the cupboard, though it only has a few outings a year, I’m afraid. I use it mostly to make Nigella’s Custard Cream Hearts but am always on the lookout for more ways to use it. I don’t think you will regret asking your mum to squeeze a tub into her suitcase 😉


Anita Menon 26 March 2012 at 6:04 pm

wow, wow, wow. bookmarked. I have to make this.


eat, little bird 27 March 2012 at 9:46 am

Hi Anita! I hope you will get to try this cake! It’s really delicious!


Jennifer (Delicieux) 28 March 2012 at 7:27 am

Oh my gosh, this cake looks amazing!!! I’m on a real rhubarb bent at the moment, so I’m definitely going to bookmark this to try. It just looks so pretty and I love that layer of custard baked into the cake.


eat, little bird 28 March 2012 at 11:02 am

LOL! I’m also going a bit crazy with rhubarb at the moment but, thankfully, my husband is not sick of it yet! I also think it’s an impressive-looking cake, all the more because it’s pretty easy to put together, and you don’t have to do anything further to it once you take it out of the oven! I think the idea of baking the custard layer into the cake is genius – I’m definitely going to experiment with this more.


Liz Headon 28 March 2012 at 10:52 am

Rhubarb and custard – one of those “takes me back” flavour combinations ! I know if I made this I’d be tempted to use more rhubarb too – but in my case I’d probably sacrifice the beautiful appearance and symmetry in order to crowd more in !


eat, little bird 28 March 2012 at 11:05 am

Haha! Although the rhubarb in this cake looks striking the way it is, I might try next time to cut it up into small pieces and to just cover the top of the cake with it. Might have to sacrifice a bit on looks to get more taste 😉


sara 28 March 2012 at 6:39 pm

Delightful! This cake is so pretty and looks so delicious…I adore rhubarb, and it’s so so good with custard! :)


eat, little bird 29 March 2012 at 11:26 am

Oh rhubarb with custard is just delicious, and to have it in cake form is just as delightful!


Sam-I-am 28 March 2012 at 6:58 pm

Ok, Mum is back from London, she got the Stem Ginger, could not find Morello Cherries and hurt her knee and could not walk properly by the time I thought of asking for the Bird Eye Custard! So Question: Can one make custard from scratch and spread it on as a layer or does it have to be a powdered custard for some reason? Thx Creme! This cake is making waves! 😉


eat, little bird 29 March 2012 at 11:37 am

Oh shame that your mum injured herself while on holidays! I hope she is doing better now.

I think you could definitely make the custard from scratch for this cake and it might even be a better cake for it :-) I would make a custard that is thickened with cornflour (Nigella has a recipe for Quick Foolproof Custard in How to Eat) – it should be quite thick such that it holds its shape and is not at all runny.

The cake sponge also uses 1/2 cup of custard powder. I would try substituting this with 1/2 cup of cornflour plus a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract.

Please let me know if you do try this alternative version – I am confident that it would work but am nevertheless curious to find out!


eat, little bird 29 March 2012 at 9:30 pm

Hi Sam!

I’ve just updated my post above with a custard recipe which I have tested for you tonight :-) The recipe produces a nice thick and sweet custard which I think would be perfect for this cake. Although you won’t have the same bright yellow, it is instead a lovely pale yellow flecked with black vanilla seeds. Knowing your sense of style, this elegant custard might be a better fit for you :-)


Eva 30 March 2012 at 2:41 am

I just recently had rhubarb for the first time in a dessert and loved it, the combination of rhubarb and custard sounds amazing!!


eat, little bird 30 March 2012 at 8:37 pm

I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed your first taste of rhubarb! I don’t think I have tried a rhubarb dessert which I haven’t liked.


Mandy_C 30 March 2012 at 6:42 pm

The most beautiful cake I have seen in a long time.


eat, little bird 30 March 2012 at 8:38 pm

Oh thank you, Mandy! It’s also relatively easy to put together, which is another bonus :-)


Kath Castle 1 April 2012 at 11:26 am

I love the look of this cake, & am trying it as I write, just waiting for the custard to cool!
The only change I have made is to use a circle of wet baking paper in place of the cling film.
I will be reporting back!


eat, little bird 1 April 2012 at 2:19 pm

Oh how wonderful to hear! I look forward to hearing how this recipe works out for you :-)


Theresa Z ZZ 1 April 2012 at 9:09 pm

I just made the cake and waiting for it to cool slightly so I can remove it from the springform pan. The only problem I encountered was trying to spread the batter on the paper in the cake pan. Any suggestions? I Might try piping it from a pastry bag and then gently spreading. Same with the dollops on top, although very gently on that did the trick. The cake looks absolutely great and can’t wait to have my friends taste it. Thanks for the recipe and looking forward to more from your website. Theresa in Michigan


eat, little bird 1 April 2012 at 9:20 pm

Hi Theresa! I’m thrilled to read that you tried this cake! I hope you and your friends will enjoy it. May I ask if you made it with the custard powder or without?

I also encountered the same problem as you when trying to spread out the cake batter in the pan when it was lined, especially since the batter is quite thick. But spreading it slowly with a small spatula did the trick. The second time I made the cake, I didn’t line the sides of the cake tin, only the bottom. You can compare the “before” photos above. This made it much easier to spread the cake and the cake came out of the tin with no problem.

Thank you again for leaving your feedback!


Theresa Z ZZ 2 April 2012 at 5:36 am

I must tell you the cake was a huge success. My friends and I loved it. It sliced beautifully and tasted great! I lined only the bottom of the cake pan. I used Bird’s custard powder which I purchased in Stratford, Ontario. I had both the instant and the regular, but used the regular. The custard came out great, too. I had never made a cake with the custard baked right in. I will definitely make the cake again. It was a little bit of spring and sunshine at the table. Thanks again.


eat, little bird 2 April 2012 at 9:58 am

Oh I’m so happy to hear that the cake was a success!! Both times when I made the cake, I found it to be fairly easy to put together, which is somewhat of a surprise for such an impressive looking cake. I’m so glad that you and your friends loved it! It’s quite a relevation to bake a cake with the custard layer inside and I’m certainly going to experiment with this more. Many thanks again for popping back to let me know how it went :-)


Kath Castle 2 April 2012 at 8:32 am

A very nice cake, & unusual with the custard layer, although my husband also said it could have done with more rhubarb – I did the first version.
Not as pretty as yours as my rubarb didn’t sink as much – my fault though as I almost cocked it up!
The batter seemed very stiff, & on checking my scales found the battery was going & it wasn’t working properly so I added another egg to loosen it up.
Certainly didn’t seem to affect the flavour and we really enjoyed it, thank you!


eat, little bird 2 April 2012 at 10:05 am

I’m so pleased to hear of another success with this cake!

The batter is indeed quite thick and stiff, something which surprised me but, then again, there is no liquid in the cake batter so I had to trust the recipe. But I’m glad to hear that an extra egg didn’t affect the cake at all and that it still tasted great!

I think the first attempt of any recipe is always trial and error. I actually thought that the rhubarb in my first cake sunk too much! For both cakes, I was worried that the rhubarb would sink completely, owing to the thick batter which I could feel would rise a bit on baking. But thankfully, both cakes worked out well.

Thank you for letting me know how this cake turned out for you! I always appreciate feedback when readers have tried a recipe I have posted :-)


Quynh Anh 11 April 2012 at 11:05 am

I will have to try this out soon! By the way, can you buy double cream in Switzerland? There is no double cream here (in the Netherlands) so I just use the single cream. Do you have any suggestion for the replacement?


eat, little bird 11 April 2012 at 2:00 pm

I use “Vollrahm” in Switzerland whenever a recipe calls for double cream. A Dutch friend (thanks Joost!) has just told me that he uses “slagroom” in the Netherlands as an alternative to double cream. It apparently has a consistency between single cream and double cream and works perfectly as a substitute for double cream. Hope this helps you!


Sam-I-Am 25 April 2012 at 12:54 am

I just want to say I made this cake, followed the recipe to a T and came out the other end with a beautiful, vibrant and delicious cake! I used the first version with the Custard Powder and now plan on making it this way many times more (gotta finish hat tin of Custard Powder!!!). Many thanks Creme for introducing us to this Gem!!!!


eat, little bird 25 April 2012 at 2:37 pm

Sam, your cake looked so beautiful and I’m so glad that everyone enjoyed it :-) It is a gem of a recipe, isn’t it? And I’m so glad to have shared one with you considering all of the wonderful recipes you have shared with me in the past. I still make Delia’s pesto rice salad regularly and think of you (and our wedding) everytime I do :-)

Did you see Jodie’s version of this cake? She made it using sliced apples instead of rhubarb and sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on top of the cake, I think. Now that is a version I can’t wait to try! Another way to use up that custard powder 😉


Meenakshi 13 May 2012 at 4:35 am

What a gorgeous cake! I am going to use your tip and incorporate custard powder in my vanilla cakes now…it lends such a lovely colour!


eat, little bird 14 May 2012 at 1:19 pm

Thank you! It’s rather fun to bake with custard powder – there’s something so old-fashioned about using this ingredient. And it indeed adds a lovely yellow to your cakes, not to mention a lovely vanilla flavour too.


Caroline 5 June 2012 at 4:15 pm

Thanh, I baked this cake and blogged about it. It was fantastic! Gone in two days, with multiple servings per person (umm including myself..arhem…)!! I used the second, DIY custard recipe and that worked to perfection. I only wish I doubled up that custard recipe! I could have dived into the pan, mouth open!

Thankyou for sharing such a cracking recipe :-)


eat, little bird 5 June 2012 at 4:38 pm

Carrie, your cake looks absolutely beautiful!! And I loved that you played around with the custard and used coconut cream for a totally exotic flavour – something which I must try asap!

And thank you so much for featuring this cake on your gorgeous blog – it’s always a pleasure when someone reports back on a recipe which I have posted, and it’s even more of an honour to have someone as talented as you blog about it :-)


anne 6 June 2012 at 8:50 pm

its rhubarb time here in Maine and I stockpile custard powder wherever I find it for proper ( ie Australian!) sponge cakes. So I am very excited to try this wonderful-looking cake. And thank you for both the pikelets recipes as well as the one for meat pies, I will be having a little home-sick cooking fest this week. All I need now though is a proper Australian scone recipe! Do you have one you could share with us ex-pats?


eat, little bird 6 June 2012 at 9:35 pm

An Aussie cooking fest sounds wonderful!!

Funnily enough, I’ve been thinking about posting my favourite scone recipe, so watch this space shortly :-) Not sure if it is a “proper” Aussie scone recipe, but it’s one which has worked for me over and over.

And I have been craving pikelets lately so I am planning on making them for afternoon tea tomorrow. I think the recipe from Stephanie Alexander is just unbeatable.

Hope this spot of cooking and baking will put away those feelings of home-sickness :-)


Anna (sixtyfourcolorbox) 20 June 2012 at 4:10 pm

I’ve been waiting and waiting for rhubarb to show up it our grocery store. It finally appeared yesterday! I am making this cake this afternoon! I can’t wait to try it.


eat, little bird 20 June 2012 at 4:26 pm

Good luck! Please let me know how it turns out for you. I know it will be delicious!


anne 20 June 2012 at 4:36 pm

I made it yesterday and it was delicious – next time though I thought I would add a layer of stewed rhubarb (with the liquid cooked down) beneath the custard – then I could keep the beautiful linear top and have the extra rhubarby taste ! It would also be lovely with a topping of halved peaches or nectarines – or raspberries


eat, little bird 20 June 2012 at 4:58 pm

Hi Anne,
Thank you for your feedback! I also felt that this cake could benefit from some extra rhubarb squeezed in somewhere, and a layer beneath the custard sounds perfect! I agree that this cake would also be lovely with other fruit toppings. Someone made it with sliced apples and cinnamon which sounds like a winning combination to me, but some summery fruits like peaches and nectarines, or even winter plums, would also be beautiful here. I’m glad you enjoyed this cake!


Rachel A Davis 1 July 2012 at 4:42 pm

wow! I’ve just stumbled across this while doing some internet food lusting on Pinterest. It looks utterly delicious, I love using custard powder in cake batter so this looks quite up my street! You’re photography is wonderful xxxxx


eat, little bird 22 July 2012 at 6:47 pm

Thanks, Rachel! I had never used custard powder in a cake batter before but I loved it in this recipe. Although I am not one to make custard from a powder, I rather like using it in baking :-)


Angela Clutton 17 July 2012 at 9:45 am

Fab cake! As I was spreading it into the tin I felt there just wasn’t quite enough actual ‘cake’ to it, though, so I did 50% more mix. And thinned it out with two tablespoons of milk. Very happy with the results and it went down an absolute storm.


eat, little bird 17 July 2012 at 11:34 am

Oh wonderful! I’m curious to know if the texture of the cake is somewhat different with the milk added. In any event, I’m happy to hear that the cake was a success! Thank you for reporting back.


Carol Hammill 17 July 2012 at 5:56 pm

I am so excited to try this recipe, I love rhubarb and there just aren’t enough recipes out ther that appreciate its wonderfulness like this one. I also think your presentation of the recipes in both versions is so lovely and easy to follow. Congratulations you have a real winner here! Thank you for sharing.


eat, little bird 19 July 2012 at 3:23 pm

Thank you, Carol! I’m pleased to hear that you think both recipes are easy to follow. This cake certainly shows off the rhubarb really well and it has always received lots of compliments each time I have made it. As you may have noticed from some of the comments above, some have tried adding milk to the batter to loosen it a little. This seems to work quite well, though I have only ever made it as per the recipe which has worked perfectly for me too. I hope you will get to try this recipe soon.


Sheila 11 September 2012 at 11:58 am

Sounds great! Has anyone tried it with homemade custard rather than powder?


eat, little bird 11 September 2012 at 10:24 pm

Hi Sheila,

Carrie from The Patterned Plate had left a comment above to say that she made this cake using custard made from scratch (i.e. the second the recipe provided in this post). You can read about her findings here. Hope this helps!


MrsNumbles 6 January 2013 at 6:26 pm

Okay, I can’t keep doing this….I’m bookmarking recipe after recipe, but these photos just blew me away. If I can find some forced rhubarb here in London this winter, I’m making this for the hubby!


eat, little bird 8 January 2013 at 2:21 pm

LOL! I hope you’re enjoying your visit to my blog :-) This recipe is a real winner, especially if you are a fan of rhubarb. If you have a quick read of some of the comments above, you will see that some readers have made their own variations to this recipe using other fruits. I tried a version with apple and cinnamon and it was so delicious! But I can’t wait for rhubarb to be in season again.


Marie 16 January 2013 at 3:43 pm

Hi Thanh,
This cake is so gorgeous, I had to try it. I made the custard from scratch instead of using custard powder, and used pears instead of rhubarb. It was awfully delicious! Again, thanks for all these inspiring posts!


eat, little bird 18 January 2013 at 4:37 pm

Thank you for your feedback! Pears sound delicious on this cake – thank you for this idea! I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe, and also that you made the custard from scratch.


Leah 16 February 2013 at 5:41 am

Was looking for a new cake to try that didn’t involve chocolate or icing or a family lunch and this one looks fantastic! Just popped it into the oven and can’t wait to see if it turns out. The rhubarb at the shops was soft and looked awful so used apple and pear on top instead…fingers crossed!


eat, little bird 17 February 2013 at 1:14 pm

I hope your cake turned out well. I love the sound of apples and pears on this cake. It’s been a wee while since I’ve made this cake and I’m thinking I will make a version with apples very soon!


Emma 24 April 2013 at 10:02 am

Sounds delicious. We have fresh rhubarb in the garden at the moment and so I could definitely give this recipe a go!


Kate 2 May 2013 at 12:25 pm

I made this last week (and am about to blog it too, with all credits to you!). I really liked it, although stupidly overbaked it a bit so it didn’t look quite as pretty as yours! I made the custard a bit thick too (heavy handed tablespooning..!). Anyway, my hint would be to grab the second half of batter in your hands (dampen your hands first) and mould it to fit the cake tin, then you can just plonk it in on top of the custard. The mix is too thick to spread out, so this worked well for me. If I made it again I’d probably add another egg though as I found it was quite a dense cake and another egg might lighten it a bit – what do you think? I’ve just seen someone else made it with apples too… mmm!


Nicola 6 May 2013 at 9:19 pm

I just had to tell you how much I love this cake! I’ve made it twice in the past week, first with rhubarb and then with apples. Both were so delicious. Thank you :-)


eat, little bird 15 May 2013 at 9:49 am

Lovely to see you here :-) I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe! And the version with apples is so delicious, isn’t it? I’m hoping to make it again later today …


Pam Parduhn 28 May 2013 at 5:57 pm

Can’t wait to try this recipe – looks scrumptious!


diane biscay 29 May 2013 at 7:00 am

Hi I want to make this really bad it looks so good but I do not know what the custard powder is do we have it in the west cost of the USA? thanks


eat, little bird 29 May 2013 at 10:49 am

Hi Diane,

I’ve seen custard powder in the supermarkets in the US, so I think it should be readily available where you are. Hopefully you will find it in the baking aisle.

However, the brand I recommend is a British brand, called Bird’s Custard Powder. It is available in some selected stores in the US or you might be able to find it online, such as here on Amazon. If some other readers see your query, hopefully they can also help. Good luck!


Mary Kircher 2 June 2013 at 2:07 am

This cake is to die for !!
We don’t often see rhubarb for sale in South Africa, so, having pinned this recipe, for visual yumminess, I finally found some.
What an absolute success ! – I read all the comments, and made some adjustments ….. increased the ingredients by a third, stewed most of the rhubarb, with sugar, drained it very well, and added it below the custard level. The remaining rhubarb, I cut in small pieces, and scattered over the top – I did add milk to the batter mix, to make it more flexible – still just dropped in in spots and joined it up with a spatula. Took photos for my FB page … wish I could send them to you.


eat, little bird 10 June 2013 at 11:08 pm

Hi Mary,
Thank you for your wonderful feedback! I’m always interested to read how others have adapted this recipe and I like how you added stewed rhubarb below the custard. I can only imagine that the cake would have tasted scrumptious! Thank you for sharing your experiences with this recipe.

You are always welcome to either email the photos to me or send me a message through Facebook :-)


Ingenious buttons 14 June 2013 at 7:18 pm

I made this last night for a colleague’s birthday as he loves rhubarb… And even though I managed to over bake it and slightly burn the top, it was a huge hit and disappeared in no time. I posted a photo on facebook and have never had so many people ask for a recipe! So have directed lots of people here. Thanks for posting a great recipe and for such a beautiful blog/website.


Eat, Little Bird 11 September 2014 at 12:02 pm

Glad to hear that the cake was a huge hit!


Camille Ramkisson 11 July 2013 at 12:00 am

This looks yum . I really want to make this cake in advance of an event, Is it possible to freeze ?


eat, little bird 11 July 2013 at 2:24 pm

I’m not too sure as I don’t usually freeze cakes. My guess might be no because the rhubarb may not defrost well (it might be soggy afterwards?), but I’m not too sure. The cake keeps well for a few days on a covered cake stand, if that helps.


Camille Ramkisson 11 July 2013 at 10:53 pm

Thanks for your reply. I have decided not to freeze this time but may try a mini version at some point and freeze that to see the results.
My first attempt and R and C cake is now int oven ,fingers crossed .


Saffron 20 July 2013 at 10:12 am

I made this amazing cake yesterday for my little boys school fair. I found the instructions easy to follow and the results were great! I added an additional layer of rhubarb above the layer of custard, as I love rhubarb. This worked really well. To finish the cake off. I crystallised some pink rose petals and sprinkled some crushed rhubarb and custard boiled sweets around the cake. I thought it looked pretty amazing! However I received last place in the ‘best of British’ cake competition at the school fair and a royal icing tennis themed cake won! Obviously it didn’t appeal to the school kids, but I had some great feedback from a few parents. It won’t put me off making it again! Thanks for the recipe.


eat, little bird 20 July 2013 at 11:17 am

Thank you for your feedback! I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe, but shame that you received last place :-( Were the kids judging the cakes? If so, I guess what they find appealing can be quite different to adults! But I’m glad you enjoyed this cake as that what counts most :-)


Camille Ramkisson 20 July 2013 at 11:10 am

My attempt didn’t turnout too brilliantly. I was entering it in a comp but made it 2 days ahead. I didn’t freeze it and it had to deal with extremely hot weather ! It started out not looking too pretty and looked a bit grim before judging -it was also quite dry . It did get third prize so it tasted quite nice. I need to make it again under normal eating conditions !


eat, little bird 20 July 2013 at 11:22 am

Oh dear! Are you located in the UK? If so, I’m guessing that you used the normal green & red rhubarb which is currently available. This doesn’t have the same vibrancy as forced rhubarb (the hot pink variety) which is available for only a short window and is what I used for this cake in the photos. So the type of rhubarb used might affect the overall presentation of the cake, but it should still taste great :-) If you found the cake to be on the dry side, you could add a teaspoon or so of milk to the batter (as some readers above have done) to make it a softer cake. But I’m glad you tried this cake and, hey, third place is pretty darn good!!!


Emma 31 July 2013 at 12:37 pm

I’m going to attempt this cake for a Yorkshire themed Clandestine Cake Club tomorrow with some yummy Yorkshire rhubarb, I can’t wait to see how it comes out, I think I might try adding an extra layer of rhubarb too! I also make an apple crumble cake on a regular basis so I might try adding a custard layer in too! Thanks for sharing this recipe :)


eat, little bird 31 July 2013 at 10:03 pm

Good luck and have fun with this recipe! I have received such wonderful feedback about this cake, especially about the tweaks and changes people have made to the recipe. I hope it will be a delightful feast at the cake club!


Dina 19 September 2013 at 4:54 pm

wow that looks lovely!


Anne-So 7 May 2014 at 1:04 am

Hi! I tried this cake today (Long version) and it turned out great! I had some difficulties with the custard, since I didn’t understand that by cornflour you really meant cornstach and used therefore actual cornflour 😉 i made 1 1/2 of the recipe since I used a 26cm tin, baked it during 1h and 25 minutes and it was a beautiful cake, High like on your photos! Thanks for sharing this recipe, I’ll use it again, only with à little less butter (300g was a lot! 250g might be enough) and cornstach, i’m sure it will be perfect then!


Eat, Little Bird 7 May 2014 at 10:06 am

Glad you enjoyed this recipe :-) And thanks for sharing your recipe adjustments for using a larger cake tin. I’m sure other readers will find this helpful.

What is called “cornstarch” in the US is known as “cornflour” in Australia and the UK. I try to mention the American names in my recipes where possible but, as I am not an American, I don’t know them all and may forget from time to time. If I don’t mention the American names in the recipe itself, I always try to do so in the accompanying notes (which I did here). Another tricky element is that not all of the readers here speak English as their native language, so to mention both cornflour and cornstarch in a recipe could give rise to confusion to non-native English speakers because they are not the same thing. So I often default to the Australian/UK terms, especially if it is a recipe from an Australian or British author. Sharing a recipe is more difficult than it seems! 😉


Anne-So 7 May 2014 at 1:07 am

Oh and I added à layer of rhubarb between the custard and the top of the cake and i loved it this way!


Amy 19 May 2014 at 6:24 am

This cake looks amazing! I’m from the US so I have a few questions. What is caster sugar? I’m going to try to find custard powder but in case I can not, what is double cream? I can’t wait to make this, thank you!


Eat, Little Bird 19 May 2014 at 4:37 pm

Hi Amy,
Caster sugar is superfine sugar. If you can’t find superfine sugar, you can use normal granulated sugar, but just make sure it is creamed well with the butter until you can’t feel any grains of sugar.

You can definitely find custard powder in the US, but maybe not Bird’s custard powder which is a British brand. I’m sure other brands of custard powder will work well in this recipe.

As for double cream, I think it is called heavy cream or whipping cream in the US. Look for the fat content on the carton – you want something with 35% to 48% fat. The cream should have a pouring consistency.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions :-)


Mari 22 June 2014 at 4:19 am

Wow. What a pretty looking rhubarb cake!!!! As soon as I saw the picture, I had to try it. I did the long way version and the custard looked a bit runny so I added another tea spoon of corn flour. The cake looked and tasted amazing! This will be my go-to rhubarb cake recipe for sure. Thank you so much :)


Eat, Little Bird 15 July 2014 at 8:43 pm

Thank you for your feedback and I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe :-)


Hannah 27 June 2014 at 10:49 pm

I had never heard of custard powder but requested friends from England bring some with them during their most recent visit. At the moment I am out of rhubarb but blueberries are in season so I topped it with generous berries and it turned out beautifully!


Eat, Little Bird 15 July 2014 at 8:45 pm

That’s wonderful to know that blueberries worked well in this cake! And it sounds like you and I have something in common … I often ask friends to bring foodie gifts when they come to visit as well :-)


June 14 August 2014 at 8:04 pm

I had this cake in a bakery in Invermere, B.C. and I fell in love with it. Since I have rhubarb in my back yard, I’m always looking for something to make with it. The cake batter is just too thick, some liquid needs to be added in order for it to be spreadable. Managed to spread the bottom layer with the parchment paper moving around, but forget about the top layer. Dollops had to do. It’s in the oven, so I’ll see whether it’s worth it, and if it is, will add something to make is spreadable next time.


Linda Holloway 10 September 2014 at 6:26 pm

What is custard flour. I am from the US and we do not use that term. Could you explain what it does or other names it might have.
Thank you!


Eat, Little Bird 11 September 2014 at 12:07 pm

Hi Linda,
I think you are referring to custard powder (not custard flour). I’ve seen it sold in supermarkets in the US and it is essentially a powder to make instant custard. The brand of custard powder which I am familiar with using is called Bird’s, which is available through some retailers in the US.

If custard powder is not available where you live, hopefully you will give the long version of this recipe a try. It’s definitely worth it :-)


Kim 28 April 2015 at 9:28 am

Hi ya,
A fellow Vietnamese (growing up in the UK) here. I made your cake today, but with pineapple, and homemade pineapple curd. I think I overbaked it just a bit. The cake is quite dry. But the combination is beautiful. Gonna go out to get some pineapples and make it again. This time with a super thick layer of pineapple curd and a nice layer of pineapple on top of the curd as well ;).


Eat, Little Bird 28 April 2015 at 9:58 am

Love the sound of using pineapple in this cake! Sounds delicious. If you find the batter quite dry, you could loosen it with a bit of milk or even pineapple juice. The cake is supposed to have a bit of crumb but it is quite versatile if you wish to change the texture a bit. But overbaking it will, of course, make it more dry. Thanks for your feedback!


PSC 12 June 2015 at 8:46 pm

I have made this cake many times. Its delicious! Its easy to make and is a treat in rhubarb season. I am not sure what fruit can replace rhubarb in this recipe. Every time I have baked this cake, its been appreciated. I have baked it for occasions, for work, for home and it just goes a treat.
Thanks for this wonderful recipe.


Eat, Little Bird 12 June 2015 at 9:01 pm

Oh that’s so nice to hear! Thank you for your lovely feedback :-) I’m so glad that you and others have enjoyed this recipe. I also think it’s a very special cake and always look forward to making it when rhubarb is in season. I have also tried it with apple and cinnamon for something a bit different – it was really delicious but, of course, doesn’t look as striking as with rhubarb decorated on top of the cake.


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