rhubarb & cardamom shortcake

Oh the joy of housesitting. This beautiful place we are ‘looking after’ is full of surprises! The garden is my favourite. The expansive lawn is hedged in by the most exquisite flowers, a huge array of colours and fragrances. The far corner has a ginormous port wine magnolia tree that emanates this rich alcoholic fragrance. And the vege patches…Oh! Last night we made a warm green salad with freshly picked broccoli, broad beans, asparagus and courgette, lightly panfried and topped with parsley and a caper-yoghurt dressing.

Fresh produce is so inspiring. It gets me very excited for summer – fresh strawberries (well, all berries) and plums and watermelon and persimmons and pineapple. I am very excited for the recipes to come from these. You see, I am learning to be inspired by food rather than by recipes. Instead of seeking a recipe for dinner, I love the idea of strolling round the markets, or perhaps the garden (if you are so lucky as we seem to be right now!), then creating a meal with what is available.

This shortcake was like that. There is tons of rhubarb growing in the back patch, and the baker I work with in the Kitchen recently featured a Plum & Cardamom Shortcake which I wished to practice. My little mind mulled over all of this.. and decided on a Rhubarb and Cardamom Shortcake.

Perhaps more exciting than the garden, is the kitchen. In the cupboards I find all the spices, sauces and essences I always wish I had (because really, how can I justify buying a whole bottle of orange blossom water for one recipe..) and in the cookware cupboard – all my baking tin dreams come true!

This is a light buttery cake. In fact it is basically a pie as it has a pastry base, fruit filling and pastry top. Except the pastry is way more light and cakey than true pastry. This shortcake is light and fresh and perfect for a summer dessert. It can be made with ANY filling. The plum versian at work looked fantastic with the dark red plum layer. Rhubarb worked a treat, but of course when it cooks it tends to go a more greeny grey colour. Not so beautiful. The cardamom is definitely unusual. I used a good teaspoon of cardamom so that it was strong, but not i’m-eating-curry-for-dessert strong. As usual, I recommend crushing fresh cardamom seeds as the flavour is FAR superior and gives you beautiful dark flecks throughout that infuse each bite. See 🙂

Rhubarb and Cardamom Shortcake
Recipe adapted from fellow NZ blogger Linno Yum

125g butter
125g caster sugar
12 cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground (approx 1 tsp)
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
300g flour

4-5 medium sized stalks of rhubarb, chopped
3 Tbsp caster sugar  (vanilla infused is even better)

  • Cream the butter, caster sugar and cardamom. Beat in the egg.
  • Add baking powder and flour, mix until just combined then knead until it forms a smooth ball of dough.
  • Place in fridge to rest. After 30 minutes remove from fridge so it will be at room temperature before rolling it.
  • Prepare the filling by heating the rhubarb in a fry-pan with the vanilla sugar, cook over a low heat until the rhubarb is almost cooked, taste to see if it needs more sugar then set the pan aside to cool until lukewarm.
  • Line and/or grease a 23cm round or square tin.
  • Cut the pastry dough in half. Roll out one half and place in the bottom of the prepared tin. Alternatively, press the ball of pastry into the tin with your hands.
  • Spread the filling evenly on top.
  • Roll out the other half and place on top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes at 180 Celsius.
  • Cool it in the tin. Dust with icing sugar.


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