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Juliet Sear's rhubarb and custard cupcakes

Fresh from Yorkshire’s famous Rhubarb Triangle, Juliet Sear’s back in the kitchen with a twist on one of Britain’s favourite puddings, rhubarb crumble and custard - in a cupcake!



For the rhubarb filling:

400g rhubarb, washed and chopped into 2” lengths

65g golden caster sugar

For the sponge:

250g salted butter, softened

250g golden caster sugar

1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

5 medium free range eggs

210g self raising flour

40g custard powder

1 tsp. baking powder

For the crumble topping:

180g plain flour

120g caster sugar

90g slightly salted butter

For the buttercream:

250g unsalted butter, softened

500g icing sugar

1 tsp. Vanilla bean paste

40g custard powder

2 tbs boiling water

You will need:

Stand mixer with a paddle attachment or bowl and wooden spoon

Large roasting tin

Standard cupcake tin/s with 16-18 paper cases

2 piping bags and large open star nozzle (optional)

Food processor (optional)

Apple corer or small round cutter

A large non stick baking tray

If you are making a large cake, you’ll need an 8” cake board for supporting the cake and a larger cake board or stand to display it on. Also pallet knives and side scraper for the buttercream coating if you want it neat, and a large bread knife or cake leveller for splitting the sponges.


  • Preheat the oven to 180c/160c Fan/350F/Gas 4

  • Roughly chop the rhubarb into large pieces (3” ish) and spread out in a roasting tin, sprinkle with the sugar and toss through, cover the tray with foil and bake for 15 mins covered, then a further 5 minutes with the foil removed.

  • Remove the rhubarb from the oven set aside and leave to cool

  • To make the sponge, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla in a stand mixer until light and fluffy

  • Slowly add the eggs one by one until all incorporated

  • In a separate bowl mix together the flour, custard powder and baking powder and then add to the mixer in 3 increments.

  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake cases or lined tins and bake for 15-20 mins for the cupcakes or slightly longer for the sponges until golden and when a skewer inserted into the centre it comes out clean.

  • Take away five or six pieces of the rhubarb before making the filling if you wish to use this to add some pink décor to the top of your cake or cupcakes. To make the rhubarb filling, add the rhubarb and syrup from the roasting tray to a food processor or blender blitz the rhubarb and a little of the juices to make a thick puree. If you don’t have one you can finely chop this on a large board and make a rough pulp.

  • To make the crumble topping, rub the flour and butter in-between the tips of your fingers until they resemble breadcrumbs (or use a food processor for this) . Mix in the sugars, squeeze the mix together to form some larger clumps, and then sprinkle out evenly onto a baking tray. Press down with your palms firmly to create a joined up, thin layer of crumble. Bake for 10-15minutes until golden brown and then set aside to cool.

  • Using an apple corer to make a hole in each cupcake, remove a small amount of the core of the cupcakes and fill the hole with the pureed rhubarb, it will take about 2 teaspoons. Wait a few minutes as some will soak in and you can add a little bit extra. Using a piping bag is easiest but you can use a small teaspoon instead.

  • To make the buttercream, beat the butter in a freestanding mixer until light and soft. Add half of the icing sugar and the vanilla and cream together. Add the custard powder and the rest of the icing sugar along with 2 tbsp. of boiling water. Beat until smooth and fluffy.

  • Spoon the buttercream into the piping bag and cut a 1 cm hole at the end of the bag to give you a large circle to pipe through or use a large open star nozzle to get a nice whippy tall effect. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes in a large dome or whipped swirl, making sure to hold the bag directly above the cakes not at an angle.

  • Use a palette knife to slice up chunks or shards of the crumble on the tray, giving you nice jagged pieces. You’ll be left with lots of small crumbles too, so first of all sprinkle all over the cupcakes with this, then use the big pieces and plunge these into the buttercream to create height. Add a piece of roasted rhubarb, use a pair of scissors to cut an angled chunk and place on top of each cake, or if you’re feeling fancy, you can make candied rhubarb which is a lovely garnish for desserts, cocktails or on a cake.

  • If you decided to do a large cake, create this by splitting each sponge layer through the middle, and sandwiching the cake with buttercream and the rhubarb compote. Create a crumb coat and chill for 40 mins to an hour, then go over with another layer of buttercream. For the decoration you can use the remaining buttercream and pipe whippy swirls over the top and crumble over the biscuits and secure shards into the swirls for height and of course add some extra roasted rhubarb or candied rhubarb to finish.

These will last for a few days.



250 g sugar

225g water

2 or 3 lengths of rhubarb, about 20cm pieces

You’ll need a large baking tray lined with baking parchment.


  • First make a soaking syrup. Put the sugar and water in a small pan. Warm over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved, bring to a gentle boil, then turn off the heat. Set aside to cool. Pre-heat oven to 100℃.

  • Wash and trim the rhubarb, then peel into long, even strips with a vegetable peeler. Put the cooled sugar syrup in a small bowl and submerge the rhubarb strips. Soak for 20 minutes.

  • Lay out the rhubarb strips in a single layer, not touching each other, smoothing them so they lie flat

  • Bake until the strips are dried out and fairly crisp – they should be dry and not tacky to the touch. Start checking after 15 minutes. It will take up to 30 minutes.

  • Once dried out, remove from the oven and carefully peel away from the tray, and set aside on a fresh piece of baking paper until completely cooled. To use, you can plunge into buttercream, this looks good if you fold them in half so they create spiky bits out from the top of the cakes.

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