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Rhubarb and pear yeast cake

The natural sweetness of rhubarb and pear shine through in this yeast cake inspired by a Stephanie Alexander recipe.

By Emma Knowles
  • 45 mins preparation
  • 35 mins cooking plus proving, cooling
  • Serves 10
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This recipe was inspired by Stephanie Alexander's rhubarb yeast cake in The Cook's Companion. It is best eaten on the day of making.


  • 120 gm butter, coarsely chopped
  • 120 ml milk
  • 250 gm plain flour (1 2/3 cups)
  • 30 gm caster sugar
  • 10 gm dried yeast
  • Finely grated rind of 1 orange
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
Rhubarb and pear filling
  • 350 gm rhubarb, finely chopped
  • 1½ firm, ripe beurre Bosc pears, finely chopped
  • 55 gm caster sugar (¼ cup)
  • 20 gm each cedro and candied orange peel (see note), diced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
Rhubarb glaze
  • 50 gm caster sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Scraped seeds of ¼ vanilla bean
  • 40 gm rhubarb, thinly sliced
  • 160 gm pure icing sugar, sieved


  • 1
    Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, add milk and heat until lukewarm (1 minute). Mix flour, sugar, yeast and orange rind in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a well in the centre, then, with motor running, pour milk mixture, egg and yolk into well and knead until smooth and shiny (2-3 minutes). Transfer to a buttered bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1 hour). Knock back dough on a lightly floured surface, roll out to a 20cm x 35cm rectangle, place on an oven tray lined with baking paper and set aside.
  • 2
    For rhubarb and pear filling, combine ingredients in a bowl and spread over dough, leaving a 5cm border along the long sides. Cut long sides through to filling at 3cm intervals using a pair of kitchen scissors, then fold long ends over to meet in the centre, pressing the ends to seal. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm place to prove (30 minutes).
  • 3
    Preheat oven to 180C. Bake yeast cake until crust is golden and a skewer inserted withdraws clean (25-30 minutes). Cool on tray for 15 minutes, then cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
  • 4
    Meanwhile, for rhubarb glaze, stir caster sugar, lemon juice, vanilla seeds and 50ml water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, add rhubarb and bring to the simmer. Cook until rhubarb is translucent and liquid is syrupy (4-5 minutes), then strain into a measuring jug (discard solids). Stir icing sugar and 50ml syrup in a bowl until smooth, and thin with a little water to drizzling consistency if necessary. Drizzle over yeast cake and serve.


Cedro is the glacé fruit of the citron tree. It's available from Simon Johnson and David Jones and good delicatessens. If unavailable, substitute candied orange peel or candied lemon peel.