Rhubarb and custard cake

This rhubarb and custard cake recipe brings together two winning flavours for a decadent summer cake courtesy of the National Trust, perfect for birthdays and garden parties!

Rhubarb and custard cake Image credit: ©National Trust Images, William Shaw
Brought to you by National Trust

"An old school favourite reimagined, this Rhubarb and custard cake combines vanilla sponge cake, with layers of rhubarb and custard with rich, cupcake-style vanilla frosting. For an extra decadent touch add custard cream biscuits onto the top of the cake."

Chefs tips

  • This is a ‘naked’ cake, so spread the frosting thinly around the outside, to allow the layers to show through.
  • The rhubarb compote can be made up to two days in advance.
  • Ginger and rhubarb are perfect partners, therefore five stem ginger cookies, halved, could be used as an alternative to the custard cream biscuits.
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For the cake

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g self-raising flour

For the rhubarb compote

  • 700g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2–3cm pieces
  • 70g caster sugar

For the frosting and decoration

  • 300g unsalted butter, softened
  • 600g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 220ml custard
  • 10 custard cream biscuits


To make the compote

Put the rhubarb and sugar into a heavy-bottomed pan and mix well.
Place over a medium–low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Simmer for a further 30 minutes, stirring regularly, until the fruit has broken down and you have a thick compote. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then refrigerate until needed.

To make the cake

Preheat the oven to 180°c/170°c fan/gas mark 4.
Grease three 20cm/8inch loose-bottomed cake tins and line the bases with non-stick baking paper.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.
Add the flour and mix gently until just combined.
Divide the mix between the three tins and level the tops.
Bake for 20–25 minutes until golden and springy to the touch; a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

To make the frosting

Beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla together until very light and fluffy.

To assemble the cake

Put one third of the frosting into a piping bag and set aside.
Place one sponge on a board and spread with approximately 150g of the frosting. Then pipe a ring of frosting around the edge to create a small barrier.
Spoon about 80g of the custard onto the cake, along with about 150g of the rhubarb compote and gently swirl together.
Top with the second sponge and repeat.
Top with the final sponge and use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Using the frosting remaining in the piping bag, pipe 10 rosettes around the edge of the cake.
Spoon the remaining custard and rhubarb compote on top of the cake and gently swirl together.
Top each rosette with a custard cream biscuit.

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