I always have my suspicions when a recipe calls itself a ‘sunken cake’. I am sure that this is meant to convey a sense of dense, richness, almost of decadence – the sense of a cake that is so full of wonderful things that it sinks under its own weight.
But I’m pretty sure what it means is that the cook in question made this awesome, delicious, moist cake, and yet, through some accident of culinary alchemy, the rotten thing came out of the oven with a canyon in the middle. But naturally you can’t tell your visitors or customers that, so you pretend that this was what you were aiming for all along. “Oh, that’s just my famous sunken chocolate cake. It’s simply divine with cream. Would you like the recipe?”
Of course, it’s possible that my suspicions are founded entirely on the fact that this is what happened to these cupcakes. I decided to experiment with macadamia meal (which does not, thank you so much, Sunbeam, behave exactly like almond meal in a cake), and thought I’d start fiddling around with a recipe loosely based on another one of those beautiful things from Red Velvet, Chocolate Heartache. And of course, the macadamias turned out to brown much faster than almond meal, and then it’s possible I put in too many blueberries, and the whole thing sank like a stone. Well, stones. There were 14 cupcakes, so that makes 14 little valleys of the shadow of culinary disaster…
I wasn’t going to post the recipe, because they looked so disastrous, but they actually met with a fair bit of enthusiasm at this morning’s meeting, so there you go. Which is another way of saying that the photographs on this recipe are rather minimalist. I’m sorry about that. If I could think of a way to make that sound intentional and appetising, I would…
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150 g macadamia meal
50 g white rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
zest and juice of 1 lime
200 g zucchini, peeled, topped and tailed
2 medium eggs
120 caster sugar
125 g blueberries, plus 12 for decoration
250 g icing sugar
a teeny tiny drop of green colouring
Now what will you do with it?
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, and line a twelve-cup muffin tin with paper cases. You may need to have a couple more muffin tin holes on standby – I got fourteen cupcakes on my first run at this.
Measure out the macadamia meal, rice flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and cinnamon into a small bowl, and stir together. Set aside for now.
Zest your lime, and peel (optional) and finely grate your zucchini. They can sit on the chopping board for the time being.
In a medium bowl and using electric beaters, beat the caster sugar and eggs together for 3 full minutes. You really do need electric beaters and three minutes of beating for this – you want the eggs to become very pale and fluffy and around about two to three times the size they were to start with.
Add the zucchini and lime to the bowl with the eggs, and beat briefly to combine.
Now add the dry ingredients and beat in briefly.
Remove the beaters from the bowl, and use a spatula to fold in the non-decorative blueberries.
Divide the mixture between your muffin tins, but if they look like overflowing, you may want to use a couple more tins.
Bake at 180°C for 25 – 35 minutes, or until the cakes spring back when you poke them gently. They will a deeper golden brown than your average cupcake, and also a little sunken in the middle. Maybe a lot sunken. Check at 25 minutes, and see whether they need more time.
Remove cakes from their tin, and let cool on a wire rack.
Put the icing sugar into a clean bowl (I just rinsed out one of the mixing bowls to save washing up), and add the juice of half a lime, along with the food colouring. See what the consistency is like. You want it spreadable, but not so wet that it will slide off the cupcakes.
Dollop a generous teaspoon of icing onto the middle of each cake. Here’s where the sunken part will help you out – your dollop will stay put unless you really made it excessive.
Place a blueberry into the centre of each icing dollop.
These cakes are fairly reliant on eggs, but they are gluten-free and dairy-free and low FODMAP, hooray! Not low GI, though they have less sugar than most cakes, especially if you skip the icing. Obviously they are not nut-free, either. You could substitute in a different nut meal if you are only sensitive to some nuts, but this is basically a nut- and egg-based recipe, I’m afraid.
In terms of flavour, lemon and strawberry is a lovely combination, as is raspberry and orange. Blood orange might be fun to use, too – since there is no juice in the cake, it shouldn’t go all blue on you. And the icing will be gloriously pink…