Round 11 of Baking for Hospice was the weekend before last and the theme for this round was: Winter Wonderland.
Now I had the best of intentions to bake to theme but I also really wanted to use my brand spanking new rose pan - how to combine the two?
Roses, as I found out, do not flower in winter. Crap. Looked like my the winterness was going to have to come from else where.
That's where I hit upon the idea of using rhubarb since I always associate rhubarb with winter and crumbles and puddings and rhubarb rose cakes would be oh so pretty.
However, a quick google search told me that rhubarb is in fact not actually in season in winter....go figure.
But now I had my heart set on baking with rhubarb and if rhubarb is not all that wintry, then how bout using earl grey too? A cup of tea indoors on a blustery day is sort of winter themed right??
Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it because for the Winter Wonderland round I made Rhubarb, Earl Grey and Vanilla Rose Cakes.
I'm an English breakfast girl when it comes to tea drinking but I absolutely adore earl grey in baking. It gives a beautiful floral citrusy perfume to baking that makes you think of Victorian tea parties, lace gloves and delicate bone china.
There are two ways to incorporate earl grey into baking: as ground up tea leaves and through infusing the tea in water or melted butter. I went the tea leaves way assuming that would give a more punchy earl grey flavour. It also has the bonus of scattering the leaves all through the cakes and giving them a lovely speckled complexion.
The recipe is based on Martha Stewart's Rhubarb Cupcakes. The original recipe can be found at organizement's blog. I followed The Foodies Kitchen suggestion of adding all three cups of rhubarb to the cakes instead of making a compote. The more rhubarby the better - I so loathe cupcakes/muffins that scarcely have any fruity bits in them when they say they will. The earl grey I added straight out of tea bags. If you are using loose leaf tea, you may want to grind them up a little in a coffee grinder first. And because I just couldn't bear to see cupcakes, even rose shaped cupcakes, with no sort of adornment, I ended up drizzling the cakes with a lemon glaze to compensate for the lack of frosting.
Can I at this point please gush about my rose pan? Just really quickly, I promise...OMG it is SO cool. I was all worried that the bits would stick hard out and I would have these leprous looking roses but with a generous slathering of shortening, the little cakes just popped right out. No trouble at all. And aren't they just too cute?? I'm tempted to make all my baking rose shaped from now on. Ok rant over.
The end result were pretty-looking delicate little rose-shaped cakes, almost too pretty to eat. They were packed with scrumptiously tart bursts of rosy pink rhubarb. The earl grey lent a floral smokiness and then the vanilla coming in at the end tied the flavours together. It reminded me of rhubarb and custard with a good strong cuppa. I could have eaten the whole lot myself and had to keep remind myself that they were for the hospice!
I'm sure these would also be wonderful as cupcakes using a normal cupcake/muffin tin with some sweetened vanilla whipped cream as frosting.
Rhubarb, Earl Grey and Vanilla Rose Cakes
adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
125 g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 earl grey tea bags (or 3 Tbsp loose leaf earl grey ground up)
3 cups rhubarb (~340g), diced to around 0.5-1 cm pieces
vegetable shortening to grease rose pan
~1 cup icing sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3-4 Tbsp water
1. Preheat oven to 180oC. Grease the rose pan heavily with shortening - don't be shy with the shortening, it will make sure your rose cakes pop out nicely.
2. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Stir in earl grey and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream butter for around a minute until really fluffy. Add half the sugar and beat for around 1 minute. Add the rest of the sugar and beat for another 1 minute. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Add vanilla and mix well.
4. Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Beat until just incorporated. Add half the sour cream and beat until just mixed. Add another third of the flour etc until all the flour and sour cream have been mixed in.
5. Stir in the rhubarb. It will look like there is way too much rhubarb but have faith! It is all deliciousness.
6. Fill the rose cups 3/4 way full. Bake for 25 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Flip the cakes out and cool immediately on a wire rack. Coat with the glaze while still warm.
7. Since the recipe makes a double batch, unless you've gone all out and bought yourself two rose pans, you will have to reuse the one you have. Wave it about a little to cool down and run it under cold water. Dry and grease the baby up again for the next batch.
8. To make the glaze: simply stir all the glaze ingredients together to make a runny icing. Spoon over the rose cakes while they are still warm. Or just sift some icing sugar over the top.
9. Serve with a nice strong cuppa, earl grey of course! Rose cakes will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.