Rhubarb and Custard Cupcakes, and the River Pool Spring Clean
I want to start of by saying this post is late. Very late. A whole month late. Sorry. But that's just the kinda person I am, I'm never early for anything, want to go for coffee with me, you'll probably be waiting a whole month, so it's sorta only fitting my blog posts are the exact same.
Anyway way back at the start of this month I organised a litter picking event as part of The Great British Spring Clean, in my local area, along the banks of the river pool. Our aim was to not only make the park around the river a nicest environment for visitors, but also to prevent rubbish from entering our water systems, and damaging our ecosystems. We were litterpicking on the hyper local level but I like to think we were having a tiny impact globally.
It was actually so fun, there was such a nice gang of us. We had kids, and one dog too (Fifer obviously)! It was one of those typical spring days where the weather couldn't decide what it was doing. The heavens opened at one point and we all got soaked, by as quickly as the rain came it went. And then the sun came out. Thanks ever so much to Lewisham Council, and Pre-Construct Archeaology for all their help and the tools they provided.
We finished the walk of with vegan cake! We had lemon drizzle (you can find a link to a gin and lemon drizzle cake here, just miss out the booze) and banana bread (you can find a banana bread recipe here), and rhubarb and custard cupcakes. Hence the recipe! The cakes went down a treat with everyone who came, and were the perfect end to a really lovely wholesome day. I was and still am really proud of myself for pulling this event off. I was so anxious in the week building up, I cried a lot!
So what have I been doing since then...? Well honestly not much, immediately after the event was over I hit a real slump. All my energy stressing in the build up was spent and I crashed hard. I know this sounds ridiculous but I feel like I've spent the last month recovering. Which is sort of stressful because I feel like how will I ever sustain anything if it takes me this much to do one small event. But I've got to be a bit easier on myself, it was my first time doing something like that, and sonetimes you just hit a bad patch. I have done a lot of gardening this month, I've sorta been running away from all my other responsibilities by just obsessing over my plant babies. My potatoes are going wild, and I've now got runner beans, chillis, tomatoes, and strawberries, as well as herbs. So expect lots of straight out of my garden based recipes this Summer. I also have planted a lot of wild flowers, corn flowers, sweet peas and lavender because they are great for bees, and we need to look after our bees! If you want to see more of my gardening adventures follow me on Instagram, and facebook as I regularly post stories about what I'm up to. By the way I have no gardening experience and I'm literally just freestyling/googling!
The cupcakes are super moist, and have that perfect balance of tangy and sweet from the rhubarb and custard. They are of course completely gluten free, and I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of gluten free sponge and that I need less supervision from Alice (although she totally iced them!). Rhubarb is such a great plant, my dad told me recently that his grandma used to grow it in her back garden in the North of England, so now I really want to try grow it in my own garden at some point.
Makes around 13 cupcakes
For the cupcakes
225g caster sugar
275g gluten free self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons flax seeds
9 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons almond milk
1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 vanilla pod
For the Rhubarb
2 sticks of rhubarb
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon agave syrup (or sugar/ or any other natural sweetener)
For the Icing
250g icing sugar
1/4 cup alpro soya custard
red food colouring (make sure to check the ingredients as some food colourings have none vegan e-numbers in, the Sainsbury's own brand food colouring is vegan!)
1) Combine the flax seeds and water in a small bowl to create 'flax eggs'. In a separate bowl mix together the almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Leave both mixtures to stand for around 5 minutes.
2) In a large mixing bowl place all the other cake batter ingredients.
3) The 'flax eggs' when ready should have absorbed all the water, and have a gloopy egg like texture. Add this and the apple cider vinegar to the large mixing bowl.
4) Whisk all the ingredients together. I used an electric whisk, I would advise doing the same to cut down on some serious elbow grease. Whisk until well combined.
5) Place the batter into cupcake cases. I used one large ice-cream scoop for each cake to get a consistent size.
6) Place into the oven at 160'c for around 25 minutes.
7) While the cakes in the oven, cut the rhubarb into 1cm chunks.
8) Place the rhubarb, water, agave and spices into a pan and bring to the boil. Once boiling reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the rhubarb has mostly broken down and the compote is nice and thick.
9) Check the cakes are baked through by placing a knife into the centre of one, and only removing from the oven once the knife comes out clean. Once the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing the cupcakes from their cases and placing on a cooling rack.
10) Once both the cakes and rhubarb compote have cooled cut holes into the centre of the cakes.
11) Scoop around a teaspoon of the compote into each cake.
12) To make the icing place 50g of butter in a large mixing bowl and beat using an electric whisk.
14) Slowly add the sugar, you will have much more sugar than butter, so not all the sugar will have combined.
15) Add the custard and beat until you have a thick buttercream icing consistency.
16) Add a couple of drops of red food colouring to your icing and swirl it through with a knife. Don't fully mix in as you want a clear separation between the colours. You can also add a couple of drops of food colouring down the edges of your icing bag.
17) Place icing into an icing bag and pipe on to your cakes. Take a palette knife and in a swirling motion smooth out the icing.
18) Now put the kettle on, and sit back and enjoy tea, cake and a job well done!