flourless rhubarb + lemon cake recipe

flourless rhubarb + lemon cake

I started working when I was 14 years old. I spent my weekends rolling ice cream and selling pies, lollies and newspapers in my local dairy (aka deli/corner store for those of you who don't understand kiwi :-)) I saved every penny I earned and in my second-to-last year of high school I'd saved enough cash to buy a second hand Minolta that I'd had my eye on for some time. I felt so grown up. It had an actual lens, it was big and proper looking and whats more, it took amazing photos. I quickly became the member of our family who was always guaranteed to be taking photos of everyone at gatherings and also the one who spent a huge proportion of her meager wages on film and developing. I took photos of everything and everyone and even though I never felt I knew a great deal about the technical side of photography, I enjoyed taking photos and saving memories. That camera went places too, it was with me when I visited Fiji, Australia (numerous times), India, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. It also captured treasured moments when Ada was born and for a few years after that too. I was a latecomer to the digital world and didn't fully embrace the technology until I started this blog (3 1/2 years ago now). I felt like I'd always had a certain eye for portraits and landscapes from all the years spent with my Minolta around my neck, but food photography threw me. I felt like a fish out of water. All of a sudden I had to think about aperture, white balance and actual compositions. I would flick through magazines knowing exactly how I wanted my photos to look but never quite knew how it was that I could achieve it.

flourless rhubarb + lemon cake
flourless rhubarb + lemon cake

For a long time I kinda liked my photos, but I never felt happy with them. When Harper Collins approached me about doing a book, I told them the name of the photographer I wanted to take all the photos for it. I had no plans of taking them myself and had no faith in my own abilities, but thankfully they did. After months of taking up to 600+ photos a day, I finally feel like I've got to a place where I am happy, about 99% of the time. 
Why am I mention all of this you ask? Well, I've got some super exciting news to share today that has put the biggest of big smiles on my face. I love hearing that people like my recipes don't get me wrong, but given the fact that photography is something I've taught myself and is something that has caused many, many sleepless nights with worry over the time that I was writing and shooting my book, I'm pretty stoked to say that I've won not one, but two awards for my photos in the last month! The first was the photography competition at EDB13, the Australian Food Bloggers conference, for my photo 'Spices', which was judged by some pretty amazing photographers. And today I can happily share that all my pleas for votes recently in the Nourish Summer Cover competition have paid off! Look...

I'm waiting for my copy to wing it's way over the Tasman sea, but for those of you who live in either the Waikato or Bay of Plenty regions of New Zealand, do make sure you pick up a (free!) copy! And for everyone else you can read it online here. Thanks so much for your votes, having my photo on the cover of a magazine is pretty darn cool.
I thought a little celebratory cake might be in order (as promised on my FB page!). It's been months since I've baked cake and this one sure went down a treat! Being flourless, it's super moist and only just slightly sweet, the little pockets of tangy rhubarb keep things interesting too. We ate it straight up, but of course it would be amazing with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if that's your thing.
And as this is the day of celebrations... I can now share that I've made it into the top 10 Food Blogs over on Babble.com! This is kinda a huge deal when you see who I'm sitting alongside (Smitten Kitchen & Pioneer Woman, what?). If you'd like to see a shot of the inside of my jam-packed fridge and read about my somewhat embarrassing (or amazing, if you are one of my proud kids) hidden talent, click on over. I'm too honest for my own good sometimes, haha.
Much love xx

flourless rhubarb + lemon cake

flourless rhubarb + lemon cake
When baking I use unrefined raw sugar that I've blended in my upright blender until powdered. You can also use caster sugar if preferred. 
Serves 8-10

250g rhubarb (about 4 decent stalks/2 cups finely sliced), sliced into 1cm pieces
2 1/2 cups (275g) almond meal (ground almonds)
150g soft butter
3/4 cup (150g) blended unrefined raw sugar* see headnotes
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
the finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
4 free-range eggs, at room temperature
blended unrefined raw sugar or pure icing sugar (confectioners), to dust, optional

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease and line the base and sides of a 9 inch/23cm cake tin with baking paper.
Combine the rhubarb and almond meal in a large bowl, mixing well to evenly coat the rhubarb in almond meal (this will prevent the rhubarb from sinking to the bottom of the cake during cooking). 
In another bowl combine soft butter, sugar and extract and beat with an electric beater or wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Add zest and one egg at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the wet mixture to the almond meal and stir to combine. Pour into the cake tin, smooth off the top with a spatula and bake for 60-65 minutes or until golden and a skewer comes out clean when pressed into the centre of the cake. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes before removing the tin and transferring to a wire rack to cool. Serve dusted with icing sugar. Will keep 3 days airtight, or refrigerated for longer. 

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  • Claire Ragozzino
    December 9, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Your photos are absolutely stunning, always! But I can relate to the feeling of being a self-taught photography and having higher expectations that your product may always turn out. It's certainly a challenging aspect of food blogging, but you always seem to execute a delicious recipe and an even more appealing photo to complement it. Big congratulations to you and all your success, you deserve every bit of it!

    • emma
      December 9, 2013 at 5:52 am

      Thank you so much Claire! Much love xx

  • Heidi - Apples Under My Bed
    December 9, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Much love to you too, Emma! This is SO exciting & so well deserved, all of it. You have a true talent, & combined with hard work…well, the world is your oyster πŸ™‚ PS this cake looks divine! xx

    • emma
      December 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Aw, thanks love! xx

  • Stephanie - The Dessert Spoon
    December 9, 2013 at 7:03 am

    Congratulations! I've long admired your food photos. Maybe your next book can be on food photography?!

    • emma
      December 9, 2013 at 11:53 am

      Haha, that might be pushing my capabilities just a tad πŸ˜‰

  • Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things
    December 9, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Well deserved Emma… so stoked for you : )

    • emma
      December 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Thanks Lizzy xx

  • Skye
    December 9, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Oh my goodness – congratulations!!! I can't believe that you are completely self taught – your photos are so beautiful! Well done and well deserved πŸ™‚

    • emma
      December 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      Thanks so much Skye xx

  • Blandine
    December 9, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Congratulations Emm, this is great news! Your photos are always superb πŸ™‚ x

    • emma
      December 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      Cheers Blandine! xx

  • dishing up the dirt
    December 9, 2013 at 4:23 pm


    • emma
      December 10, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      Thanks! xx

  • Shanna Mallon
    December 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Aw, I'm so happy for you! Mega congratulations on every front. We're rooting for you big-time over here. : )

    • emma
      December 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      Thanks Shanna! That means so much xx

  • Sini | my blue&white kitchen
    December 9, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Congrats, Emma! Such huge achievements. I'm so very happy for you.
    And I loved to read about you struggling with food photography. I can relate to that feeling so well. It's really tough at times. But I keep telling me that I just need to practice, practice, practice. Your blog and photography are a constant source of inspiration.

    • emma
      December 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      Cheers Sini. xx

  • Catherine @ chocolate and vegetables
    December 9, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Congrats on all the recognition–and this cake looks like a perfect way to celebrate! I love the idea of a lemon and rhubarb combination.

    • emma
      December 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      They're meant for each other those two πŸ™‚

  • london bakes
    December 9, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    I'm so happy for you friend and all your so-well deserved success! You are such an inspiration, always xo

    PS that black & white/colour pic is totally mesmerising!

    • emma
      December 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm

      πŸ™‚ Glad you liked that one Kathryn… I was secretly really stoked with that one too!

  • Jo
    December 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I love the simplicity of all your photos. Being the writer and photographer of your own book is such an amazing achievement! I am so excited to see the finished book! This cake looks divine, I'll be making it! x

    • emma
      December 10, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      Thanks so much for your ever present support Jo xx

  • Gintare @Gourmantine
    December 9, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    Congratulations on the awards, they are so deserved! Your photos are so beautiful and you have a great eye for it πŸ™‚

    • emma
      December 10, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      Thank you Gintare! xx

  • laurasmess
    December 9, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Congratulations Emma! I voted for yours in the EDB competition… you have an amazing eye for detail. LOVE the look of this cake. Celebratory indeed!! Here's to many more amazing milestones and achievements in 2014 xx

    • emma
      December 10, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks for your vote Laura! It turned out I won the overall judged part of the competition (not the community voted one), but your support means a lot. Thank you xx

  • Meghan
    December 10, 2013 at 4:42 am

    Every since I stumbled on your blog, your work in both the kitchen and behind the lens has been a major inspiration to my own. Reading about your evolution from unsatisfied to celebratory only makes me want to strive harder, practice harder, and learn more. Congratulations, Emma. All of your success is well deserved and I have no doubt there will be plenty more in the future! xx

    • emma
      December 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      Such kind words Meghan! And I'm stoked my story helps to inspire you to keep learning more. That's the coolest part about both cooking and photography, is that there is always something new to learn πŸ™‚

  • Jennifer @ Delicieux
    December 10, 2013 at 5:07 am

    Hmm not sure what happened to the comment I left yesterday. It seems to have disappeated. Anyway, I just wanted to say congratulations again. There seems to be no stopping you! πŸ˜€ You clearly have a natural gift for photography because all of your photographs are stunning. I hope to get to the point one day where you are at and be happy with 99% of my photographs.

    Congratulations also on the Babble inclusion. You totally deserve it. I'm sure 2014 will be even brighter for you. πŸ˜€

    • emma
      December 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      Thanks so much Jennifer! The comment gremlin must have grabbed your one from yesterday πŸ™‚

  • lamorgana
    December 10, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Any cake with almond meal and I am making it! I will now feed up my rhubarb plants and give them the love they deserve.

    • emma
      December 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      Almond meal cakes are the best eh? πŸ™‚

  • Blue Apocalypse
    December 10, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Congrats! I've always loved your photos πŸ™‚ You deserve it!

    • emma
      December 10, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      Thanks so much Ai-Ling! xx

  • The Life of Clare
    December 10, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Huge congratulations on all your photography success! What a wonderful thing! I know the feeling of working since 14, and I'm not quite sure what to do with myself now that I'm not.

    • emma
      December 11, 2013 at 4:50 am

      Cheers love! You'll be busier than you've ever known when that baby of your arrives, so make the most of all that free time now πŸ™‚ xx

  • Jacquie
    December 10, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    You r blog is always beautiful ,from the inside out.Way to go hon!

    • emma
      December 11, 2013 at 4:51 am

      Thanks Jacquie! Merry Christmas and lotsa love to you and your family xx

  • The InTolerant Chef β„’
    December 11, 2013 at 2:43 am

    Congratulations and very well deserved indeed! I definitely think a big slice of cake is in order πŸ™‚

    • emma
      December 11, 2013 at 4:51 am

      Thanks Rebecca! xx

  • erin @ yummy supper
    December 11, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Emma! Congratulations on all fronts. I LOVE your photography and am thrilled that you are getting such recognition and a magazine cover. How fantastic!!!
    Keep on rocking it, mama!

    • emma
      December 13, 2013 at 3:24 am

      Thanks Erin! xx

  • Colette Joseph
    December 12, 2013 at 12:44 am

    Congrats, Emma, on making it onto Babble's top mommy foodies list!
    Also, this cake looks delicious. Going to have to bake one to confirm. πŸ˜‰

    • emma
      December 13, 2013 at 3:25 am

      πŸ™‚ Enjoy and thank you! xx

  • Abby
    December 13, 2013 at 1:13 am

    Congratulations!!! I love your photography, your (gorgeous) work has been such an inspiration to me. Can't wait to see your book πŸ™‚

    • emma
      December 13, 2013 at 3:24 am

      Thanks Abby! Love your work too! xx

  • danijela k.
    December 13, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Congratulations! I admire your writing, your photos… and I enjoy your great and tasty recipes!

    • emma
      January 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Yay! Thank you xx

  • Domestic Executive
    December 26, 2013 at 12:54 am

    In my humble opinion you beat TPW and SK hands down every time. Maybe it's the kiwi connection but I love your writing, photography and the fact you are determined to follow your dreams. Hope that 2014 brings all you hope for and many more wonderful surprises. Congratulations on these honours they are well deserved.

    • emma
      January 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Such kind words! Wow, thank you so much xx

  • Anonymous
    September 9, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Is that 3/4 cup of blended sugar measured before or after grinding it finely? I imagine it would make quite a difference in volume….

    • emma
      September 10, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      It's the measurement after it's been finely ground. Although strangely the volume is actually not that different between regular and ground. If in doubt I recommend you weigh it xx

  • Lana Long
    April 24, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    I am only now finding you and how delightful! The lemon rhubarb cake was excellent. I've had a long love affair with rhubarb and now grow my own. I've found a treasure, thank you!

    • emma
      April 24, 2016 at 11:07 pm

      So happy you loved this recipe Lana πŸ™‚

  • Karen
    November 21, 2016 at 4:01 am

    This cake is divine. I was a bit dubious about rosemary in a cake but with the rhubarb it’s absolutely delicious. I also love how moist this cake is and that it’s not too sweet. Will definitely be making this one again!