So the clocks have gone forward, which means that Spring has officially sprung. We had a near heatwave last week but if anybody else tells me that was our summer, I shall beat them with a metal spatula. It's time to embrace the longer days and look forward to our next Bank Holiday which happens to be Easter Monday. Springtime also heralds the arrival of vibrant pink stems of rhubarb in the shops which makes my heart happy. It works beautifully as a compote, as a crumble filling and most especially as a tart, sweet, creamy filling for a homemade Victoria Sponge - the perfect teatime treat for Easter Sunday (if you've any room left after the millions of Easter eggs you will have eaten that morning...)
225g Butter, very soft
225g Caster Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
225g Self-Raising Flour
Preheat your oven to 180c/Gas Mark 4, grease & line two 8-inch tins with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the vanilla & eggs one by one, beating well between each egg. Finally fold in the flour until the mixture is a soft dropping consistency. If it's too stiff, add the milk a tablespoon at a time.
Pour into the tins, level out and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
Rhubarb & Mascarpone Cream
5 sticks Rhubarb
1 Lime, zest only
2 Clementines, zest of 1 and juice of both
50g Caster Sugar
250g Mascarpone Cheese
50g Icing Sugar
Preheat your oven to 160c/Gas Mark 3
Wash & trim the rhubarb into 2cm lengths & place into a glass or ceramic baking dish. Add the zest of the lime and clementine, the juice of both clementines and the caster sugar and mix well. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes. At this stage, the juices have reduced and the rhubarb is soft to the touch. Allow to cool fully before making the cream.
Once the rhubarb is cool, mash it up with a fork. Beat the mascarpone & icing sugar together and then fold in the rhubarb compote. Spread over the base of the Victoria Sponge, top with the other half and dust with lots of icing sugar.