What’s in season during April and May with Rhubarb, Orange and Almond Cake recipe.

After what seems a very long winter, spring is finally here. With the arrival of longer days and hopefully warmer weather, April and May bring plenty of home-grown fruit and vegetables for you to enjoy. Here’s a quick guide to the best seasonal buys...

The English asparagus season begins late April and runs through to June. Cook and eat asparagus as soon after buying as possible to enjoy the best flavor. Steam or roast until just tender and serve warm with vinaigrette or creamy hollandaise sauce.

Wild garlic will be sprouting everywhere in the countryside in late spring. Also called ram sons, the wide deep green leaves make a flavorsome pesto sauce or can be used in salad or wilted and used just like spinach. Check out farmers markets or farm shops to buy ready picked bunches. If foraging yourself for wild garlic, make sure to have the landowner’s permission first. Snip off the leaves and wash thoroughly before using.

Garden peas and broad beans will appear towards the end of May. Their flavor is sweetest straight after picking so look out for the freshest specimens and cook on the day of buying. When buying broad beans choose pale green pods that feel soft and tender. Later in the season the outer skins of the beans become tougher so partially cook then squeeze the bright green beans out of the grey skins and toss into a warm salad, pasta sauce or serve with a fresh herb dressing.

Other vegetables to look out for include cauliflowers, spring greens, cucumbers, radishes and spring onions. Then into May the new season’s baby carrots and turnips appear. Finally, don’t forget to look out for tiny Jersey Royal new potatoes – a little pricy but definitely worth it!

The fruit market is beginning to liven up with the arrival of the first few English strawberries in early May – make the most of their wonderful flavor by serving with a scant sprinkling of sugar and a dollop of Cornish clotted cream or try a drizzle of sticky sweet balsamic glaze.

My favorite of all the spring produce has to be rhubarb – technically a vegetable – it’s just the perfect ingredient for luscious fools, mousses, cakes and pies as well as savory pickles and chutneys. April sees the tail end of the forced rhubarb season and these thin bright pink stalks are less stringy and more delicate in flavor than the chunkier maincrop rhubarb. If you can get hold of some before the season ends try this quick and easy cake.

Rhubarb, Orange and Almond Cake

Jazz up a packet cake mix with a few added ingredients and tangy seasonal pink forced rhubarb and in no time you have a delicious fruity cake that tastes great warm or cold.

Kitchen tools needed:

Cole & Mason Nutmeg Grinding Mill

April 2024

Prep: 20 mins

Cook: 35-40 mins

Difficulty Easy

Makes 12 slices


  • 425g packet vanilla cake mix
  • eggs, oil and water called for on the cake box
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg, ground in the Cole & Mason Nutmeg Grinding Mill
  • 75g ground almonds
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 450g forced rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 5-6cm lengths
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 25g flaked almonds
  • icing sugar, for dusting


1 Preheat the oven to to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas Mark 4. Line the base and sides of 33cm x 23cm tray bake tin with baking paper.

2 Make up the packet cake mix with the eggs, oil and water following the back of pack instructions. Fold in the nutmeg, ground almonds and orange zest. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared cake tin.

3 Toss the rhubarb in the demerara sugar, then arrange randomly on top of the cake mixture. Scatter over the flaked almonds. Bake for 35-40 minutes  until golden and springy to the touch. Serve warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar.


You can replace the rhubarb with any firm fruit, try sliced plums, apples or pears or a mix of raspberries and blueberries, if liked.

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