Brown Butter, Rhubarb and Almond Tray Bake


This is such a versatile cake – it’s a doddle to make, keeps well, freezes well and is easy to transport for picnics and school bake sales. For a perfect pudding, serve it warm with crème fraîche or custard and extra poached rhubarb.


  • 360 g rhubarb, trimmed
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 2 drops of vanilla paste or extract

For the Sponge

  • 115 g unsalted butter
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 115 g caster sugar
  • 100 g plain flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 60 g ground almonds
  • tbsp whole milk
  • 4 tbsp flaked almonds


  1. Heat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas mark 5. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm (8in) square baking tin with baking parchment.
  2. Start by preparing the rhubarb. Cut the rhubarb stems into 1cm (½in) pieces. If your rhubarb stems are thick, cut them in half lengthways beforehand so that the pieces are not too large. In a medium saucepan, bring the caster sugar, vanilla and 225ml water to the boil. Once the syrup is boiling, add the rhubarb and return to the boil. Remove from the heat as soon as it boils, then drain it, saving the juice for another recipe (see Tip). Set the rhubarb aside while you prepare the sponge.
  3. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat until it foams, then turns brown and has a nutty aroma. Take it off the heat at once and pass it through a sieve into a jug to catch any burnt bits.
  4. Whisk the eggs and sugar together by hand in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add the melted butter and whisk until combined. Combine the flour, baking powder and ground almonds in a separate bowl, then add to the wet ingredients and pour in the milk, whisking to make a smooth batter.
  5. Stir the drained rhubarb into the cake batter and pour into the lined baking tin. Scatter the flaked almonds evenly over the top.
  6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 35–40 minutes. The top should be puffed up and golden, and a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. If it doesn’t, return the cake to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin before turning out.