Recipe: Fructose-Friendly Fresh Ginger Cakes with Rhubarb and Hibiscus

Another recipe from the wedding cakes I made for Rhiannon and Reed a few weeks ago!  This one was designed, with the help of the lovely Emily, to be low-fructose and dairy-free, and was thus also gluten-free and, by chance, nut-free.  I considered trying for vegan as well, but this is a soft cake at the best of times, and I’ve learned that soft cakes can generally be *either* veganized *or* rendered gluten-free, but not both, without a lot of changing.  If you want the vegan version, I recommend popping over to my Vegan Fresh Ginger Cake recipe, and making it as cupcakes with the shorter cooking time below.

This recipe is adapted slightly from two recipes by David Lebovitz in his book Ready for Dessert.  This book, along with his ice-cream book, The Perfect Scoop, is possibly the most dangerous dessert cookbook you can own, and I highly recommend it.  Absolutely swoon-worthy, and yet another set of cookbooks I must review sooner rather than later.

What’s interesting about this recipe is how hot the ginger turns out.  In the large version of the cake, the longer cooking time mutes the heat of the ginger and mellows the whole thing out, but there is nothing mellow about these cupcakes!  They are, in fact, perfect winter fare.  The filling is a blood orange and rhubarb compote that I gelled with a little bit of pectin, and I’ll be honest with you right now – I have no idea what I wound up doing for the icing.  I’m pretty sure it was a vegan buttercream, so that’s the recipe I’m providing, but I had a lot of trouble with the icing on the day, and I may have got muddled.  I will say that if dairy is an option for you, whipped cream would be the ideal topping here.

The wild hibiscus flowers are, of course, purely optional, but if you can get them (they come in jars of syrup and can be ordered here), they both look beautiful and complement the flavours of the ginger and hibiscus very well – they have a sort of rhubarb-berry flavour that really works here.

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For the cakes:
150g fresh ginger, chopped as finely as possible (the food processor is your friend!)
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup treacle
1 cup canola oil
2 1/2 cups low-fructose flour mix (obviously, you can use plain flour if gluten/fructose are not issues)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup water
2 tsp bicarb of soda
2 eggs
For the filling:
1/2 cup blood orange juice (zest it first, for the icing)
50g sugar
175 g rhubarb
1/2 tsp pectin (any kind you can get is fine – you want a jammy consistency, really, but if you end up with jelly that still works)
For the icing
zest of 1 blood orange
1/2 cup tofutti cream cheese
2-3 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp of blood orange juice or water, optional
wild hibiscus flowers in syrup, glacé ginger or glacé orange, to decorate

Now what will you do with it?

Line about 20-24 muffin tins with paper cases and preheat the oven to 170°C.

Get your ginger as finely chopped as possible, and put it into a large bowl with the brown sugar, treacle and oil.  Mix everything together well.

Sift together the dry ingredients in another bowl, or just measure them out and dump them in, we all know that’s what I’d do.

Bring the water to the boil in a small saucepan, add the bicarb and immediately remove from the heat.  Stir the bicarb in well, then add it all to the wet mixture.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry fairly briskly (the clock starts ticking on this the moment the bicarb hits the water), and then beat in the eggs.  Please, please do not forget the eggs – I did the first time I made this, and the cupcakes erupted all over the oven and made the most ghastly mess.  I love my pyrolytic cleaner, but even so, this was a bit much.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes are risen and springy.  Remove from the muffin tin and let cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling, wash the rhubarb and chop it into 1cm lengths, all the better to cook down fast with, my darlings.  Put it into a smallish saucepan with the blood orange juice and sugar and bring to a boil.  Simmer gently until soft.  I am afraid I can’t provide guidance on how long this will take, but much less time than you think!  Remove from the heat and use a stick blender to purée the sauce, then sift in the pectin (this, even I would sift – big chunks of pectin are no fun to eat), and return to the heat, whisking well, until the pectin is dissolved.  Bring to the boil again, then switch off the heat.  Depending on how strong your pectin was, it will either gel or go jammy at room temperature – either is fine, but if it’s very solid, you will need to get it warm again before filling the cakes.

Use a spoon or small sharp knife to scoop a small, conical valley out of the top of the cake, as if you were making butterfly cakes.  Fill this valley with the still-liquid rhubarb and blood orange sauce, pausing to admire the truly scary colour of this sauce!  (Yes, it really is as bright as these photos suggest).

Top the cakes with a little rosette of whipped cream or soy cream, or make a simple vegan cream cheese icing by beating the tofutti cream cheese with the blood orange zest until very soft and smooth, and then sifting in the sugar until you get the consistency you want.  Depending on how soft or firm you like your icing, you may need more sugar or to add blood orange juice.  I like mine fairly thick, so I skipped the juice and used quite a bit of sugar, so that I could have a pipeable mixture to put on top of the cakes, but you can also spread it over the cupcakes with a knife, spatula or palette knife.

Top the icing with a hibiscus flower, if you have one available.  I decided to put a little sliver of glacé ginger at the centre of each flower, just to make it all more special.  You could also decorate this with a small piece of glacé orange, or glacé ginger, or even leave it plain at this point, though I’m not sure any cake with a filling *and* a topping counts as plain, strictly speaking…


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3 comments for “Recipe: Fructose-Friendly Fresh Ginger Cakes with Rhubarb and Hibiscus

  1. October 1, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Mmmm, that’s definitely an appealing flavour combination! And the hibiscus flowers look so pretty

    • October 2, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      Thank you! Yes, I love the hibiscus flowers – so delicious and so pretty.

      And yeah, of all the cakes I made at that wedding, these were the ones I was most proud of.

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