Martha Collison's Ginger and Rhubarb Cake Recipe

(139 ratings)

Martha Collison's Ginger and Rhubarb Cake
Martha Collison's Ginger and Rhubarb Cake
(Image credit: Tara Fisher)
Preparation Time30 mins + chilling time
Cooking Time1 hours 45 mins
Total Time2 hours 15 mins


For the ginger cake

  • 100g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 125g dark muscovado sugar
  • 50g treacle
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 1 ball stem ginger, from a jar in syrup
  • 100ml whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 125g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

Rhubarb filling

  • 200g rhubarb
  • 100g caster sugar

Candied rhubarb

  • 100g rhubarb
  • Pink gel food colouring

Runny icing

  • 150g icing sugar
  • You will also need an 18cm round tin


  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/gas 3. Grease an 18cm tin and line with baking parchment.

  2. Chop the rhubarb for the filling into 5cm-long pieces and put into a saucepan with the caster sugar and 100ml of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft but not disintegrating. Remove the rhubarb with a slotted spoon and put on a sheet of kitchen paper to cool. Keep the cooking syrup for step 6.

  3. To make the cake, heat the butter, sugar, treacle and syrup together in a large saucepan, stirring until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved. Melting the fat and sugar together gives ginger cake its characteristic stickiness, so make sure the mixture is smooth and there are no grains of sugar visible. Finely chop the stemp ginger.

  4. Add the milk to the saucepan and whisk until combined. This will cool the mixture down before you add the egg, stopping it from scrambling. Beat in the egg then stir in the chopped stem ginger.

  5. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices together in a large bowl. Pour the wet mixture over the top and beat together until smooth.

  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, then arrange the chunks of rhubarb on top. They will sink into the middle of the cake, so don’t worry about being tidy.

  7. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean and the cake no longer wobbles. Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin. Meanwhile, turn the oven down to 120°C/gas ½.

  8. To make the rhubarb twirls, trim the ends off the sticks of rhubarb and use a vegetable peeler to peel them into long thin strips. Put the peeler at the top and pull down firmly along the length, to get clean-cut pieces. Discard the first layer of peelings, as the skin will not dry out as well as the flesh.

  9. Gently heat the syrup left over from the boiled rhubarb with a tiny amount of pink food colouring, and remove from the heat. Dip the rhubarb strips into the syrup one by one then put onto a parchment lined baking tray. Bake the strips for one hour (baking the fruit on a low temperature like this dries it out and makes it crisp).

  10. Find a spoon handle or chopstick that is a perfect cylinder. Once the rhubarb strips are done, remove them from the oven and, working quickly as they will harden as they cool, take a warm strip and wrap it around the cylinder. It should harden quickly and slide off easily. If the rhubarb is still sticky or hardens too fast, return it to the oven to soften and dry a little more before trying again. Repeat with all the strips to create crisp, pink curls.

  11. To make the icing, mix the icing sugar with 2–3 tablespoons of water, or until it is a thick but runny paste. Spread the icing over the cake, using a palette knife or the back of a spoon to encourage it to drip down the sides, then top with the rhubarb curls. This cake will keep for 4–5 days – if it lasts that long!