A Cake That Led to a Macaroon and Other Such Stories.

My recipe To-Do list is growing, in fact, it’s bulging at the seams; like a cake eater’s excess strain on their trouser seams. Mutiny is imminent, unless I arrest the yeasted dough like speed at which it is expanding. I am mired in such a sorry state of affairs, despite being a no-repeat cook. Part of the reason is that I like to cook as varied a repertoire as I can, another  is that I cannot recall what I made last week, or what I thought of it. Unless The Scotsman hated it, in which case it is emblazoned in my memory. I am grateful, that it’s a rare occurrence. This blog comes in handy in that regard, but at a price. Getting geared for a blog post takes a lot of time, from the cooking, photographing, editing, writing and uploading, which means that those ear-marked recipes are never going to come to life.

So, I have been thinking. I would like to start a dedicated section here, for those blog recipes I have been meaning to try, from blogs that I either have fallen in love with, admire or am downright jealous of. One blog that elicits the entire spectrum of these feelings is Eat, Little Bird. You may have read about the Madeleines and Pikelets I have posted about previously. Well, Thanh has only gone and done it again. The Rhubarb and Custard Cake she featured from an Australian Women’s Weekly book,  is a pretty, perfectly self-dividing cake that would sit handsomely at an afternoon tea table. This cake went viral when she published it and for good reason. How beautiful does it look? I have made this twice so far and it never fails to get gobbled. My kids might pull off the pink, soft rhubarb stems and toss it onto my plate, but I can just about forgive them this time.

I followed Thanh’s instructions to the letter, with two changes only. She has two recipes for the same cake, one using Bird’s custard powder and the second, has instructions for making your own custard from scratch. Both of these recipes are on the link above. The second one is the recipe I’ve used. I wanted to, and I admit to this rather sheepishly, make a coconut custard ( I am aware I am coconut nut. I choose to give into the madness) so I substituted the same amount of double cream for good quality, proper tasting, full fat coconut milk. I could have sat on the kitchen floor, licking that incredible coconut custard straight off the wooden spoon. There are recipes to use that custard, mooching around in my mind.

I also added two tablespoons of milk to the cake batter, at the very end to loosen and moisten it a touch. It may take you aback by how stiff a batter it is. Persevere though, it comes together to form an exceedingly light, soft and fluffy crumb. I also noted, that my cake, for whatever unknown reason, took an hour to bake, as opposed to the hour and quarter her recipe states. Even then, I felt I could have taken it out earlier. One can never predict the way a cake is going to behave, so be cautious and start checking around the 50 minute mark.

Forced pink rhubarb, cut thickly, would be perfect as it tends to maintain that shocking pink colour after baking. Try not to use too thick a stalk, a slimmer number would do better here.

The Scotsman kept mumbling, “ooh soft…” while chomping (a fat slice was gone in two bites) on it. Some custard on the side even, would make this quite decadent. I loved the restrained elegance of this cake and having that custard layer in the middle was a welcome, desirable change from regular frosting. I only wish I doubled the custard! It’s the perfect spring-summer cake, all bright coloured, light and airy.

I had three egg whites left over from the Rhubarb Custard Cake and since the kids have been moaning about the empty cookie jar for sometime, I thought macaroons would be the very thing. MacarOOns – those chewy, non-temperamental, matter-of-fact, no fuss and silly frills, cracked and crumbly cookies. Couldn’t be easier. Mix together together an egg white with some sugar, bung in any finely ground nut of your choice, a bit of flour, touch of vanilla, roll and bake. Here I used hazelnuts with some cocoa powder and had some pistachios knocking about, so I made jade green macaroons with those. For some reason, the batter was more moist with the pistachio. Perhaps it has something to do with their moisture content and the fact that the chocolat ones have cocoa powder, but it does not deter from the taste. Also, conveniently for the no-gluten folk, I made this with rice flour, which gives it a wonderfully chewy texture.

There you have it, from one cake, came out dozens of cookies too, so it has been a rather satisfying day of kitchen pottering. I hope for plenty more of the same – being inspired by the food on those blogs I love and sharing that around my family table and with you.


80gm / 3/4 cup whole nuts, (any of your choice, like, hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds) to be whizzed finely in a food processor/grinder
80gm / 1/3 cup plus two tablespoons of caster sugar
30 gm / 1/4 cup of rice flour or plain, all-purpose flour
1 egg white

Pre-heat the oven to 130 deg C / 250 deg F. In a bowl, combine the sugar and egg white. Add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well to make a stiff dough, sticky dough. It will feel like it won’t come together but just a wee bit of bashing around will do the job. Roll into heaped teaspoon sized balls, place on baking tray and flatten the top. CSI gloves are handy. Put into the oven and let it cook for 20-25 minutes. It should crack and will still be a bit soft in the centre, that’s what makes it chewy. Cool on a baking rack. This will keep in an airtight container for a week. To make the chocolate cookies, replace 10 gms/ 2 tablespoons of rice flour with cocoa powder.


40 thoughts on “A Cake That Led to a Macaroon and Other Such Stories.

  1. saffron

    How wonderful, you baked cake and the cookies too, (what a satisfying day)!! Idea of using rice flour for macaroons is quite interesting. Does it make the cookies crispier? (as the use of rice flour does in Indian cooking). Absolutely, loving the colors of the cookies !!

    1. The Patterned Plate

      I think the rice flour does actually. Also, it gives it a much lighter texture than plain flour. But I mean, plain flour can be easily substituted, but I quite like using up a not-frequently-used-but-open packet of rice flour!

  2. eat, little bird

    Oh the cake looks gorgeous!! How lucky you are to still find forced rhubarb where you are. I’m thrilled by how many people have tried this cake since I posted it, and you have certainly does this recipe some justice. I think most of the people who tried this cake used the Bird’s custard powder version, so I’m happy to see that you took the alternative route and that it worked out well 🙂 From the photo, it looks like it was a very soft and tender cake – yum! I’m loving your experiments with coconut and I’m definitely loving the sound of a coconut custard … I think it would make for a really lovely dessert after a punchy Asian meal. Thanks for the idea!

    1. The Patterned Plate

      You said it Thanh, it was soft and tender….that coconut custard was a revelation…..I will confess to some serious, unladylike spoon licking, AFTER I finished the cake! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe 😉

  3. Jo Blogs

    Have you ever seen those cake testers you can buy Carrie – amazon have some for a few pound only and there are a probe you poke into the centre of the cake to see if it is fully cooked all the way through. It’s on my list for when I graduate (this list is already obscenely long 😉 ).

    As for the cake – isn’t it wondeful? Once more I have some apples winking at me from the fruit bowl begging to be turned into this cake once more (of course this time I’ll remember the damn raising agents and read my own notes on the recipe lol!!!)

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Hha! I have one!! I was taken aback really, cos the original recipe said one hour and 20 minutes, but my timer was on for an hour…didn’t think there would be THAT much difference.

      1. Jo Blogs

        Perhaps it’s because you made a looser sponge then by adding the milk hun. I’m sure my effort took longer to cook but spe dry oven is individual so I’d not be too shocked!

  4. Amrita aka Beetlebuggy

    What a lucky bunch at home you have, to be the recipients of two wonderful baked goods at the same time! I’ve always added dollops of custard along with my cake but have never spread it as a layer in the middle. That actually makes work easier in just cutting a slice and eating it! Also, I’m sure your cookie jar will be empty really soon 😉

  5. oiyoufood

    Beautiful post. The cake is very pretty and elegant. Seems to be very popular too! Have to try it. I am intrigued by coconut custard! Food comments aside, I think your photos are very pro! Specially the first one with all the stripes and colours,! Lots to learn from 😉

  6. erinmotz

    Rhubarb is one ingredient that thoroughly frightens me… I just can’t imagine it tasting like anything else but celery. And my brain is all like, “Pink celery cake… no.” I know I’m totally wrong, but it still creeps me out! haha

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Haha! I understand. Rhubarb however, is miles, MILES away from celery as it can get! It’s very, very tart, so requires a fair bit of sugar. It combines beautifully with sweet berries like strawberry, raspberries etc and is simply wonderful when paired with orange- zest, juice or flesh. Also consider pies, crumbles and cobblers. There isn’t anything to fear and potentially, a LOT to like :-))

  7. NickkiT

    Every time I see this cake I wonder why the heck I haven’t made it yet! It looks divine Caroline. And as for those macaroons, beautiful!

  8. Rushi!

    Carrie you are a genius!!! I would have never thought of using rice flour to make macarons. I must try that next time. As for the cake, I saw it on Thanh’s blog and it’s been on my to-do list as well. Will have to make it when I have company because my dear hubby doesn’t care much for rhubarb in his food (fear of trying new things, i guess). It’s such a pretty cake 🙂 Using coconut milk for the custard is so inspired. Trust you to experiment 🙂

  9. Pamela

    I have gazed on this cake a few times now, thanks to you and Thanh, but still haven’t made it! Don’t know what is stopping me, maybe the presence of the toddler and all the darn biscuits. But I do have to, I am Australian and therefore recipes from AWW cookbooks are special!

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Best with early forced, bright pink rhubarb if the colour matters to you. If it doesn’t go ahead and make em..they might turn that wierd brownish colour but nothing a frantic dusting of icing sugar can’t solve! 🙂

  10. Sam

    Hi carrie,
    I have been searching for rhubarb here and so far no luck, or not nice looking ones. I absolutely adore rhubarb in any form and custard so this is a real marriage of tastes for me.
    Where did you find yours in Doha?
    The macaroons are a fantastic idea and I love pistachios also, we have similar tastes aswell as the same birthday. ;))
    I love your blog and love to see what fantastic new ideas you come up with, that I can share with my family.
    Give me a bell when you are free for a chat, shop and coffee ;))

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Sam you can find rather decent ones at Megamart. Mind they don’t come cheap but for once in a while, it’s not bad 🙂 Made a rhubarb and apple crumble the other day too with some,droooool! Shall be in touch 🙂

  11. Meenakshi

    Oooh I made a similar version of that tea cake using alphonso mangoes!! Yours looks beautiful, just like Thanh’s 🙂 I love the crumbly macaroons too. And my husband also devoured two slices in like, what, 60 seconds? This cake is a winner.

  12. Pingback: Ice Cream Bar Lollies « The Patterned Plate

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