Rhubarb & Custard

I’ve said it before, and I’m happy to say it again: Rhubarb and Custard are my childhood. Those sugary boiled sweets still hold a dear place in my…erm, stomach, I guess. And as this cupcake series is turning into something of a ‘Classic Dessert’  series, I though this sat right at home.

I’m loving making cupcakes – it’s not something I’ve done before this series, really, and I am loving experimenting – let me know if there are any flavours you’d like me to try and I will by all means try!


On to the website: did you know next week will mark the 1 year anniversary of the site? Well, of it’s previous incarnation – All Thyme Favourites (R.I.P). I feel like it’s somewhat of an achievement and I wouldn’t have kept it going without those who visit, like, share, comment and enjoy what I post, so thank you, once again, for everything.

Now on to the cupcakes: they are pretty messy, so eat it with a fork on a plate or risk getting custard everywhere. They’re fun to make, pretty fun to decorate and taste just like childhood. Well mine, at least.


Yields: 10 cupcakes

280g plain flour
300g soft light brown sugar
170g butter, softened and unsalted
3 eggs
250ml milk
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp salt
pink food colouring

450g icing sugar
50g custard powder
250g butter
40ml custard
pink food colouring

250ml whole milk
4 x egg yolks
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp plain flour

150 rhubarb, cubed
30g golden caster sugar
2 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 170c and line a cupcake tin with 12 cupcake cases.

Pour the milk into a pan along with the vanilla. Get this mixture to a simmer. While that is heating, whisk four egg yolks together with the sugar, flour and cornflour. The mixture should be pale, so whisk for a few minutes. When the milk is bubbling, pour a small amount into the egg mixture – whisk as you do. This will stop the rest of the milk from cooking the eggs. Pour the rest of the milk into the mixture – slowly, though and whisking constantly. Now you want to transfer it back to the pan. Pour the mixture through a sieve so you’re left with a silky smooth custard. Place back on a low heat and stir with a wooden spoon continuously. The mixture will thicken, eventually. Transfer to a bowl and place a sheet of cling film over the top, pressing it down so it sits on the custard to prevent a film from forming. Leave to cool completely.


For the rhubarb, place all ingredients into a pan and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft but not mushy. Sieve the mixture so you have a super tangy rhubarb juice and them the rhubarb separate. Leave both to cool completely.

Beat the butter in a stand mixer until pale and fluffy and then incorporate the sugar on high speed, until it’s light and creamy in texture. Add the eggs – one by one, and beating after each addition – followed by the vanilla.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl and add a third of it to the stand mixer. Beat until just incorporated and pour in half the milk. Repeat this once more, and finish with the final third of the flour mixture.


Divide the batter in two and decant into two separate bowls. In one of the bowls, add a few drops of the pink food colouring and mix until a universal pink colour.

Decant the batter into the cupcake cases until 3/4 full. I used a mini ice cream scoop, placing a scoop of the pink at the bottom of each case followed by a scoop of the plain batter on top.

Bake for 22 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin.

For the buttercream, sieve the custard powder and icing sugar into a bowl. Beat the butter for 5 minutes on high speed until really pale and fluffy. Add half the icing sugar/custard powder and beat for a further 3 minutes. Add the second half of the sugar and beat once more. Pour in the custard and the rhubarb juice. Beat until fully mixed – you may need to scrape down the bowl to ensure everything is incorporated.

Next, the custard: Divide the custard in two. In one half, add some of the rhubarb juice. It might look like the custard has split, but keep beating with a spoon and it will come together. Use this batch for the centre, and the plain custard as the topping.

Using either a melon baller or apple corer, remove some of the centre of the cooled cupcakes and pour the rhubarb custard into it. Inside a piping bag, draw two lines on opposite sides of the bag with a paintbrush. Decant the buttercream to a piping bag fit with a large star nozzle and pipe a doughnut swirl on the top of each one. Top with some more of the custard and spoon on some of the rhubarb.