Comforting Rhubarb Cinnamon Cake and the onset of Christmas

Sometimes I think that the following confession makes me quite un-Australian. But I cannot change the way I feel, I just really love Winter. Summer is nice and I like to go to the beach and spend time outside just as much as the next person but there is something so snuggly about winter that makes it my favourite season. I love winter pjamas, flannel sheets, hot chocolate, reading in bed on a blustery, rainy morning, roast dinners, open fires, winter wardrobes, is there anything not to love? I have spent christmas in the european winter a few times now and I love that you can eat all the traditional food and its not stinking hot. I mostly love that I can cook whatever I want whenever I want because it’s never too hot to have the oven on.  So im not particularly put out by this crazy change in the weather we are currently experiencing in Sydney as it makes the putting up of decorations and the cooking of christmas treats much less sweaty. And so, my lovelies, I put the oven on today, this cold and rainy day in DECEMBER… and made this

Stephanie Alexanders’ Rhubarb Cinnamon Cake

The recipe was astonishingly simple with no need to stew or pre-cook the rhubarb. The yield was one family size delicious cakey/puddingy dessert with tangy sweet rhubarb, fragrant cinnamon and lots of crunchy munchy topping. Just the thing to eat with a cup of tea while watching Love Actually (lets face it, it really is time to break out the Christmas movies).

 

All you do is start with some ruby red rhubarb stalks

Chop them up. I think the chopping is quite theraputic

See, the red and green of the rhubarb marks the onset of the festive season. In fact you might want to bust out some of your christmas cds to listen to while cooking this

Whiz your cake batter in the food processor. Look! It matches the stand mixer from my last post 😀 hooray! And it’s red… see… christmas….

Stir through the rhubarb pieces and dump it all in a cake pan

And not too long after you can pop this baby out

Perfect delicious crispy crunchy top, and moist crumb with flecks of deep pink rhubarb.

JOY!

Just a step up from a plain old tea cake, the cinnamon addition gives it a bit more depth and the rhubarb adds colour and texture. You could probably cook it a bit longer to get it firmer in the middle but I love it more moist and pudding like. A super easy way to warm you up on a cold Summer winter day. I defy you to eat this cake and not feel comforted and cuddled. So, my lovelies, what do you like to cook/eat to warm you up when you are cold and feeling miserable?

Rhubarb and Cinnamon Cake from The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander

Ingredients

80 g unsalted butter

300g plain flour

380g brown sugar

2 eggs

a few drops of vanilla essence

1 tsp salt

1 tsp bi carb soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 cup sour cream

400g rhubarb (cut into 1 cm pieces)

1/4 cup brown sugar (for the topping)

1 tsp ground cinnamon (for the topping)

Method

1. Mix together the butter and sugar

2. add the eggs and vanilla

3. sift together the flour, salt, bi carb and cinnamon then add to the food processor and pulse a few times to combine

4. Add the lemon zest and sour cream then transfer to a large bowl and stir in the rhubarb

5. pour into a 24 cm round tin that has been greased and lined with paper

6. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the top of the cake

7. Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 1 1/4 hours or until a skewer inserted comes out clean

Australian Pavlova Blog Hop: Chocolate M&M Pav Sundae with Orange Cream

I’m not afraid to say that i’m an ideas-woman. I have killer ideas. Ideas for TV shows, ideas for books, ideas for outfits, ideas for travel, mostly ideas for food. Perhaps I just have an overactive imagination? Anyway, with this gift also comes a curse. I’m not really what you would call a do-er. I never finish things. I rarely get things done. I see deadlines whoosh past me. Which is why, despite the best of intentions, when I heard about the Australian Pavlova Blog Hop on twitter (yes, i’m now a twit) deep down I knew I wasn’t going to make the deadline. But, im also not a quitter so when I made up my mind to make this Chocolate M&M Pav Sundae, even though it would end up being a week late, I knew I was going to get around to it.

Ok, so it isn’t the prettiest dessert but boy was it yummy!

There were lots of recipes floating around (including a particularly spacey Tardis Pav recipe by Mel from Crunchy Tiger) but I thought I would give a delicious looking chocolate pav recipe a crack. I didn’t want to do a traditional fruit pavlova, mostly because it was a bit same old same old and I wanted to do something different. But also a tiny bit because I hate passionfruit seeds and didnt want to do the chopped-fruit-with-passionfruit-pulp-on-top thing. Bah, who am I kidding, I just wanted an excuse to use…

THIS

Yes, that is 1.4 litres of Hershey’s chocolate sauce. Thank you Costco.

The other pretty big reason why I wanted to turn my pavlova into a sunday was mostly because of this:

I think that because I left it out overnight (and the outside had cracked) the marshmallowy inside disintegrated in the humidity into, well lets face it, quite a tasty pool of chocolate slush.

But all turned out well in the end and it was quite a theraputic process, cooking this baby.

And I got to use the new kitchenaid stand mixer! Yay!

The recipe called for the mixing in of some chopped up chocolate but I figured m&ms would but much more colourful and fun

Because of the extreme shadows in my oven I didn’t realise that my pav had collapsed until it the morning 🙁 boo!

so then I whipped up some cream, stirred through the rind of two oranges and some Grand Marnier, poured some Hershey’s liquid gold over the top and had myself a delicious

Chocolate M&M Pav Sundae

as if you could resist a close up of that crispy, gooey, messy, creamy, orangey, chocolaty deliciousness

So, my lovelies, what is the coolest/craziest/best idea you’ve ever had?

I make this Pavlova in participation with the Sweet Adventures: Australian Blog Hop. You can find instructions on how to join by clicking on the link below.


         

Chocolate M&M Pavlova Recipe – adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

6 egg whites
1½ cups (330g) caster sugar
¼ cup (25g) cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
100g m&ms

Method

1.  Whip your egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form

2. Gradually add the sugar making sure that the sugar dissolves between additions

3. When the sugar is dissolved, fold in the sifted cocoa, vinegar and m&ms

4. Draw a 22cm circle on a sheet of baking paper and spoon the pavlova mix inside. Smooth the sides and top

5. Place the pavlova in an oven heated to 140 degrees celsius (fan forced) then immediately reduce the temperature to 100 degrees. Bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until dry to the touch. Turn the oven off and cool the pavlova in the oven with the door ajar

Orange Cream Recipe

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup thickened cream

finely grated rind of 2 oranges

2 teaspoons Grand Marnier

Method

1. Whip your cream until soft peaks form

2. stir in the orange rind and grand marnier

Construction

1. Break of spoonfuls of your pavlova making sure to get a mix of crunchy outside and marhsmallowy inside

2. layer pieces of pavlova with dollops of orange cream

3. top with a slug of Hersheys Chocolate Topping and a few m&ms