If you're into real, honest, wholefood then I suspect the person I am about to talk about today will come of no surprise to you at all, especially if you are from or happen to live in Australia. Jude Blereau has been one of the leading voices in wholefoods throughout Australia and the world for over 18 years, she's a natural foods chef, author of four books, food coach, cooking teacher and real food activist. Basically she's one of my food hero's! I first got in touch with Jude hoping to meet-up a few years ago when we first arrived in Perth from NZ (she's a long-time Perth local you see). Even through our emails I could tell straight away what a kind and caring soul she was. Due to the busyness of life for both her and I, two years down the track we still hadn't met up in person! Emails went backwards and forwards again recently as we made plans to finally catch up once our lives both settled down in a few months time and then Jude had a brilliant idea, inviting me to her new book launch right here in Perth!
This was a first for me going to a book launch, but I'm guessing something I should really get used to as it will be me holding them very soon myself (!). Thankfully Si was home that weekend so I could frock up and head out for a lovely afternoon tea, minus the rug-rats. Jude was everything I knew she would be, warm, bubbly, positive and encouraging. I hope she doesn't mind me saying this, and I mean this only as a compliment, but in person she reminds me of my mum. Jude, just like my own mother chose to go against the grain and carve out a healthy life for herself and her daughter in a time when most people were flipping out about buying ready-made meals and nuking them in microwave. It takes a certain strength to do such things (I know first hand, trust me!) and I admire her greatly for the choices she has made and the knowledge she is so willing to share with us all.
Her latest book Wholefood Baking carry's on from her other three books and I suspect there's a lot of you out there who will adore this book as much as I do. It's all about celebrating sweetness, but not in the traditional manor. There's rapadura sugar, maple and brown rice syrup galore. Spelt flour, almond milk and wholegrain gluten-free flours too. While this book is not exclusively gluten or dairy-free, many of the recipes are just that and others use spelt flour which many people with gluten intolerance can actually include in their diets. I got to sample a few of them at the launch (the one pictured above sadly contained spelt so I just drooled over it instead!) and the recipe I'm sharing with you today has quickly become one of our families all time favourites. I don't think I've ever seen a cake disappear so quickly! And because there's no sugar or nasties in it I really felt no shame packing the rest of the cake for Si's breakfast on the plane the following day as he flew back out to work!
rhubarb, candied hazelnut + buckwheat cake
I know we are in the middle of autumn here in Australia (and NZ) and rhubarb is a spring thing, but it actually grows year round in most places and my local farmers market always has it. If you can't find any however, I reckon some peeled and diced apple would work a treat too. Jude's weights for her gluten-free flours seem to be way off what I usually go by per cup. So to be safe I weighed the flours for this recipe instead of using cups, to be exact. There is quite a huge difference (40g for the brown rice flour) between our weights so if you usually use cups to measure and my recipes work well for you, you might want to weigh the flours out for this one to be on the safe side too.
80g unsalted butter, softened
125ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
60ml (1/4 cup) milk
60ml (1/4 cup) cultured buttermilk or yoghurt
8 stalks rhubarb (about 400g), washed and cut into 1-1.5cm pieces
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
75g (1/2 cup) lightly roasted hazelnuts* (skins removed), roughly chopped
2-3 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
160g (1 cup) brown rice flour (I suggest you weigh it, see headnotes)
35g (1/4 cup) buckwheat flour
75g (1/2 cup) roasted hazelnuts (skins removed), roughly ground*
2 teaspoons baking powder (make sure it's gluten-free)
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a 24cm (9 1/2 inch) springform cake tin with baking paper.
For the rhubarb, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
For the nut topping, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
For the dry mix, place all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk through to evenly distribute ingredients and break up any clumps.
Place the butter and maple syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until creamy, scraping down the sides from time to time. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition, then add the vanilla extract. Add the dry mix, milk and buttermilk/yoghurt and fold together with a spatula. It will look quite moist, which is as it should be. Leave for sit for 1-2 minutes and you will notice it will thicken up. Turn the mix into the tin, top with the rhubarb -- I like to press some deep into the batter, and make sure some pieces are on the sides as they caramelise even more during the baking process -- and sprinkle all over with the nut topping.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then release the springform side of the cake tin. Slide onto a wire rack (still in the paper) and leave to completely cool before cutting.
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 4 days, or in the fridge if the weather is hot.
*To roast the nuts for both the topping and the cake, place all the hazelnuts on a baking tray and place in a 180C/350F oven. The 1/2 cup for the topping will only need a few minutes, keep an eye on them and remove that 1/2 cup as soon as you see the skins loosening. Leave the other 1/2 cup until the skin is well cracked and they are lightly golden, about another 5-6 minutes.
When both are cool enough to handle, rub each batch separately (this way you wont get them mixed up). Those that are very lightly roasted can be roughly chopped in half and mixed with the maple syrup and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside for the topping, and the well roasted ones can be ground into a rough meal and set aside to add to the cake. Don't grind the hazelnuts for the cake too finely, as a rough meal gives a lovely texture to the cake.
Printed with permission from Wholefood Baking by Jude Blereau. Published by Murdoch Books 2013.
Notes and little changes that I made when cooking this cake...
* I just used regular salted butter in my cake
* I used rice milk in place of regular cow milk
* I used unsweetened homemade yoghurt not buttermilk
* I always use a fine brown rice flour in my baking.
* I used a 23cm/9 inch springform cake tin instead of 24cm. No biggy.
* If like me you don't own a stand mixer, simply beat the soft butter until light and creamy using a hand beater, drizzle in maple syrup and continue to beat until creamy.
* I folded half of the rhubarb through the cake batter before turning it out into the tin and topping with the remaining fruit. It was lovely. I wasn't sure what to do with the maple/juices from the chopped rhubarb, so I just poured it over the batter before baking.
* I dusted the cooled cake with a little raw sugar that I blended in my upright blender until powdered. Pure icing sugar could also be used.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of Wholefood Baking courtesy of Murdoch books and was a guest at Jude's book launch (without there ever being an expectation that I would write about it). As always my views are my own and I only write about people and books I believe in and those that I feel my readers will love too.