Barb Schaller’s famous custard cake – with raspberries

I lack a sweet tooth. Mr Weasel’s sweet tooth, however, is pointy, fang-like and preternaturally well-developed. So while I slept in late at the weekend, he set about making Barb Schaller’s rhubarb custard cake. We didn’t have any rhubarb, so he fished some raspberries out of the freezer, and used them instead.

I found this cake recipe on Usenet several years ago. It’s very easy, making use of (I’m going to hell) cake mix in a box, and is obscenely delicious, even for those of us who don’t usually go for pudding.

Barb’s original recipe follows. Mr Weasel substitutes each incidence of the word ‘rhubarb’ with ‘raspberries’, the dear, dear man:

Rhubarb Custard Cake

Recipe By :shared by Barb Schaller
Serving Size : 18 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : cakes desserts
fruits

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
1 yellow cake mix — 2-layer
4 cups rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
1 pint whipping cream — 2 cups

Prepare batter for cake mix according to package directions; turn into
greased and floured 9×13″ pan. Dump the chopped rhubarb on top of the cake
batter. Sprinkle the sugar on top of the rhubarb. Pour the whipping cream
(unwhipped) over the sugar. Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes, until cake
springs back when lightly touched.

Cream, sugar, and rhubarb sink to bottom, forming a custard layer. Makes
1-18 (depending on how you cut it!!) dee-vine servings.

When I first read this recipe, the comments posted on Usenet following it were so rhapsodic I decided it deserved a spin, even though yellow cake mix is not something you can buy here in the UK. I visit America reasonably regularly, and there’s always space in the suitcase when we go abroad for interesting local ingredients, so on my next visit I used some of the space usually devoted to California chili pods and chipotles in adobo, and bought a couple of boxes of cake mix. (Later I discovered you can buy it and other American groceries in the UK at websites like American Soda, which is splendid, but which makes me worry for the sanity of some of its customers, who leave feedback on Mountain Dew saying that the stuff is ‘the best drink in the world’. If you’ve not tried it, please don’t. It’s not.)

What on earth do they put in this cake mix? This Duncan Hines stuff is disturbingly good for something out of a packet. It’s almost . . . unnatural. Once beaten with butter and eggs using the hand mixer, it’s white and fluffy. The raspberries are sprinkled on top, dusted with sugar, and the cream is poured over.

Raspberries are more expensive than rhubarb (unless you’re growing them, of course), but my, this substitution is good – like your hair, it’s worth it. They’re sweet but tart, and the creamy custard is a perfect companion for them. Stock up when they’re in season; they freeze well.

I usually find that the mixture needs cooking for a little longer (ten minutes or so) than the recipe states. It’s easy to test with a skewer, which should come out clean when pushed through the mix (if a bit raspberry-coloured at the end).

The top of the cake cracks and becomes a golden crust, with an occasional spurt of pink custard bubbling through. The smell is, as Barb says, dee-vine. We leave the cake on the side for half an hour to cool until it’s warm and buttery, and dig in.

I think I’m developing a sweet tooth.