Is it technically a fruit or vegetable? Delicious or too reminiscent of sad, school crumble? This is one ingredient which sure does divide opinion. At Hickory, we absolutely love it, in particular the Barbie-pink forced rhubarb which has a short season in Jan/Feb – we think it’s sublime. (For the record, it is, in fact, a vegetable)

As a testament to our desire to make the very most of seasonal ingredients, we’ve put together some of our favourite rhubarb ideas from some top chefs for you to enjoy, including a cake recipe from Denmark. Our Development Chef, Robbie Gleave, did a stint at acclaimed restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, so is especially partial to any Scandi influence.

Danish rhubarb cake with cardamom 

A very moist vanilla sponge with a fresh, tart rhubarb topping, spiced with vanilla and cardamom.  Serve hot or cold, with or without cream.

Serves 6
150g butter
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
200g plain flour
1½ tsp vanilla sugar
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp baking powder
Crushed sugar cubes, to decorate

For the topping
25g butter
50g golden caster sugar
2-3 tsp ground cardamom, or the seeds from 2 cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp vanilla sugar or extract
4-5 sticks (400g) rhubarb, cut into 12cm lengths

1 First, make the topping. In a saucepan, heat the butter, sugar and spice for the rhubarb mixture. When bubbling slightly, add the rhubarb and stew for a few minutes until completely coated. Take off the heat and leave to cool. This stage can be done the day before you want to eat it.

2 To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each one is incorporated before adding the next.

3 In a bowl, sift the flour, salt, vanilla sugar and baking powder and fold in with the wet mixture. Line a 23cm-diameter baking dish with high sides (minimum 5cm) with baking paper (or grease it well). Add the batter and spread evenly. Carefully and evenly add the rhubarb mixture on top. Reserve a little bit of the syrup (a few tablespoons).

4 Bake in the oven at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 – this can take anything from 35-45 minutes. Check with a skewer: if it comes out clean, it’s done. Leave to cool, drizzle with the remaining syrup and scatter with the crushed sugar cubes.

Bronte Aurell, Scandi Kitchen,

Next up we urge you to try Thomasina Miers’ Grilled Rhubarb with Calves Liver, Horseradish Cream & Chard – a gutsy combination of flavours which is right up Hickory’s street.

For an unusual and impressive dinner dish we were very taken with Adam Stokes’ take on rhubarb: his Duck Breast with Rhubarb Puree and Walnut Granola is as scrumptious as it sounds.

We think Flamed Mackerel with Rhubarb Chutney, Roasted Beetroot & Pickled Shallots from James Martin will tease and tickle your tastebuds big time – we think we’ll try our own variation of this one as a starter for a small corporate gathering.

And finally, Delia’s Rhubarb & Ginger Cheesecake will surely turn even the most adamant rhubarb-haters into fans. To us it’s got it all – a hint of spice, the silky fruitiness of rhubarb and a creamy texture to die for.