Monday, May 2, 2011

Rhubarb and Strawberry Sponge Puddings

Although my recent trip to Melbourne had been a short one, I had fun and it was nice seeing my sister and her family again (even though I had seen them over Christmas last year when they visited Singapore). I had a chance to see where they live, their home and their little suburban neighbourhood. I even had time to attend Sunday service with them. I did take some photos, not much, but would like to share with you some scenery around the city.

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One famous icon in the heart of the city has got to be the Flinders Street Station. Flinders Street Station is the central railway station of the suburban rail network of Melbourne, Australia. It is on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets next to the Yarra River in the heart of the city, stretching from Swanston Street to Queen Street and covering two city blocks. Each weekday, over 110,000 commuters and 1,500 trains pass through the station. It is the most used metropolitan railway station in Melbourne.

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Located on the corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets, is St Paul's Cathedral. This cathedral was built on the site of Melbourne's first Christian service on the banks of the Yarra River after Melbourne was founded in 1835. The architecture of St Paul's Cathedral is described as a revival of the style known as Gothic transitional, partly early English Gothic and partly Decorated Gothic

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I also visited another grand church. St Patrick's Cathedral is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, and seat of its archbishop, currently Denis J. Hart. The building is known internationally as a leading example of the Gothic Revival style of architecture. The 103.6 metres (340 ft)-long church is the tallest church in Australia, followed by the St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne. The interior of the church exudes grandeur - inside you will find a huge impressive pipe organ as well as beautiful stained glass windows.

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I saw this particular restaurant at a street corner and could not help taking a photo of the frontage. Now I wonder if the owner is actually a Singaporean!


In my last post that I had bought some rhubarb when I was in Melbourne. I have only ever seen rhubarb one time at a local supermarket but was discouraged from buying it as it looked as if it had been sitting on the shelf for about a month. It was shrunken, dried and brown. It certainly did not look like the rhubard I had seen on cable cook shows or in recipe books. for us here in Asian, rhubard is really an "alien" ingredient. Most of us have no clue what it is and some have not even seen it before.

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Rhubarb is a perennial plant belonging to the buckwheat family that has edible pink to red tinged leaf stalks and quite large, green, inedible leaves (additonal note after feedback from readers: note the leaves are posionous and cannot be eaten). An old fashioned name for rhubarb is pie plant, which is probably why you see it being used in pies or crumbles. By technical standards, rhubarb is a vegetable, but because of the ways in which it is used in cooking, homemakers usually associate rhubarb with fruits. Traditionally, rhubarb is paired with things like strawberries or ginger, and abundantly sweetened. The result is a tart, sweet, complex flavor which is quite distinctive.

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I came across this particular recipe from one of the magazines which I had purchased whilst in Melbourne. I thought it was somewhat interesting as it deviated from the usual pies and crumbles I had seen. However I was somewhat disappointed with the end result. I suspect I had needed to sweeten the fruit compote a bit more. Nevertheless I plan to use the remaining of my rhubard into a crumble or tart instead. Maybe this time round I will be convinced that this vegetable is indeed worth eating.

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Rhubarb and Strawberry Sponge Puddings
Serves 8
Recipe Adapted From "Australian Women's Weekly"


5 cups (700g) trimmed rhubarb, chopped coarsely
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
500g strawberries, hulled, sliced thinly

Sponge Cake:

1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 Tbsp cornflour


1) Preheat oven to 180C.

2) Cook the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a small pot over low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved and the rhubarb is tender. Remove from heat and stir in the strawberries to mix.

3) To make the sponge cake, beat the eggs with a mixer for about 10 minutes or until thick and creamy. Gradually add in the sugar and continue to beat for another 2 to 3 minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Triple sift the flours and fold into the egg mixture. Do not over-fold as you want the volume.

4) Divide the fruit mixture into 1 cup size oven-proof ramekins. Bake for 5 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling hot.

5) Remove from oven and distribute the cake mixture on top of the fruit. Bake for another 18 - 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

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tigerfish said...

Beautiful architecture :)

Never tried rhubarb before though this is the 2nd time of the day I am seeing it in desserts.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Melbourne was the overseas holiday(not counting Malaysia of course) I had rewarded myself 2 years after I started working...would love to go back again. I am looking forward to work with rhubarb and congratulations on these lovely puddings!

Lily91 said...

oops! you left the eggs out of the ingredients list!! . . . otherwise looks great

Jo said...

Hi Lily, thanks for that.

Janine said...

I'm heading to Melbourne real soon and your writeup was a really interesting primer for me :) And of course, the puddings look really great with all that rhubarb!

alwayswinner786 said...

Enjoyed the city tour of Melbourne and you captured a great architectural beauty!
I never had rhubarb before but your pudding looks great and sound delicious! It's first time I stop by your wonderful blog and inviting you to make some time to visit mine! Thanks!
Love always.

pigpigscorner said...

Beautiful place! I've been to Aus twice but only to Sydney. I should add Melb on my to-visit list!

Anonymous said...

Great post about Melbourne. Your photos are beautiful. Love the sponge pudding idea! I must try to this recipe soon.

wiffy said...

I miss melbourne and I have only been there once, many years ago. Your travel photos bring back fond memories. The puddings look delicious :)

Anonymous said...

Please be aware that the rhubarb leaves are poisonous!!! I do hope someone mentioned it to you.

Here in Ohio (USA) we enjoy rhubarb as one of the first fruits of spring, along with strawberries, after our long and harsh winters. That may be why they're so frequently paired together in recipes. But you do need lots of sugar to make them palatable.

Loved the photo tour of Melbourne! Thank you. It's been a longtime dream to visit Australia and I enjoy seeing other people's perspectives of what they found interesting.


Pei-Lin said...

Jo, glad you had a wonderful time in Melbourne. I enjoyed looking at the photos, too; it was as though I was taken on a virtual trip. ;)

Rhubarb is no stranger to me. I sorta "grew up" with rhubarb during my stay in the States. So looking forward to it in desserts and, sometimes, savory dishes at springtime. Too bad, you know, it's EXPENSIVE here. I only saw it once in the Cold Storage at Times Square. VERY expensive and not as fresh as those I'd seen in the States. I bought it to make pie with Korean strawberries nonetheless. Haha! I was having a bad case of rhubarb craving.

Agreed with Lynne - you have to mention fresh rhubarb comes with poisonous leaves! Those we see in the very few selected supermarkets here have already had its leaves removed, so you're only left with the stalk.

Lovely rhubarb dessert idea!

Elise said...

You take the most amazing pictures, and that sponge pudding looks incredible!

Swee San @ The Sweet Spot said...

I spent about a week in Melbourne after my studies in Sydney and it was lovely, although I must say I love Sydney a tad more. Would certainly want to make a trip back there soon and meet up with some of my friends there.

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