Market ingredient: Rhubarb
Difficulty: I always find baking difficult
Deliciousness: This is my favourite icing flavour now
Did The Beard like it? The icing saved the cake
I love the tartness of rhubarb. Raw, it will make your eyes water, but when cooked gently with sugar, it is such a delicious flavour. Like apples, it goes beautifully in pies and sauces. However, rather than baking a typical pie with the rhubarb this week, I wanted to be a little creative. It was Wee AB’s birthday during the week, so a fruity cupcake felt like it should be on the cards.
Now, I’m not an awesome baker. I grew up watching my grandmother and my own mother bake cakes, meringues, always letting us help, decorate and lick the spoon. I did not, however, actually manage to pick up the skills to do a particularly awesome job when it comes to baking sweets. Sure, I can follow a recipe, but I’m not particularly good at knowing how or when you can substitute ingredients, what to do when something goes wrong, or what the consistency of a cake mixture should actually be. An icing disaster was avoided thanks to having Mamma Brown on hand this weekend. When my icing separated (weird!), it was she that saved the day. She’s good like that.
So this icing recipe makes a RIDICULOUS amount of icing. You certainly don’t need this much to ice 12 cupcakes. I now have an entire container of the stuff in the freezer waiting for the next cake to be iced. I’m not sure if you can even reuse icing after freezing it, but hey, it was too tasty to throw out. I followed and slightly amended a recipe I found here and I will admit the cakes were dense. Really dense. I’m not sure if they were supposed to be like that, but they weigh a tonne!
Ingredients for rhubarb cupcakes
- 1/2 cup of rhubarb puree
- 1 1/2 cups of plain flour, sifted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup of milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 50g butter
- 1 cup of sugar
- 2 eggs
- 50g butter softened
- 1/4 cup rhubarb puree, cooled
- 2.5 – 3 cups of icing sugar, sifted
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- To make the rhubarb puree, cut 1 bunch of rhubarb (leaves removed) into small chucks and place in a blender or a whizz. Blend until a puree. You should end up with 2 cups of puree, so add a little water if it’s not quite enough liquid.
- Simmer the puree in a pot over a low heat until it has reduced by half. Take the puree off the heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
- Mix the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, milk, vanilla extract and rhubarb puree and mix until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.
- Using a piping bag without the nozzle, pipe the cake mixture into a 12-cupcake tin lined with cupcake liners. Bake for 20-15 minutes or until cooked. To tell whether the cakes are cooked, insert a bamboo skewer into one of the cakes – if it comes out dry, then it is cooked. Alternatively, the cakes should spring back to position when touched gently. Remove from the cake tin and let cool on a wire rack.
- Beat the butter, vanilla and rhubarb puree together. Gradually add in the icing sugar until completely combine. Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and decorate with edible glitter!
The measurements that I’ve shown here for the icing was actually half of what I made. As I said, I still have a huge container in my freezer full of icing. It was a bit ridiculous how much it made.
As I also eluded to earlier, I had a bit of an icing disaster. What felt to be a little unusual, this recipe called for mixing the butter with the puree before adding in sugar (I would have expected to beat the butter with the sugar first, then add in the fruit). However, because I’d cooled the puree in the fridge, when I mixed it with the butter, they didn’t combine. I’d softened the butter, but the cold puree solidified the butter again and rather than having a nicely combined mixture, I had little lumps of butter floating in rhubarb. After trying to work out what the hell to do, Mamma Brown saved the day after zapping the mixture in the microwave again to warm the mixture so that the butter could be combined.
The cakes themselves were really dense and a little heavy, although they weren’t dry. I guess the fruit contributed to a dense mixture, rather than a light and fluffy cake. I would definitely use this icing again. It would be ever so delicious on a plain vanilla cake, or even a coconut cake. It was nice to see such a vibrant pink colour come from something natural, rather than food colouring. And the flavour was sensational.