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Rhubarb and orange polenta (cornmeal) cupcakes with strawberry orange blossom compote

Many thanks to Henrietta Inman for letting us share this tasty recipe from her new book Clean Cakes. For more information please visit: www.henscleancakes.co.uk

"Delightfully soft and crumbly, these vegan cakes have a subtle sweet sharpness from the rhubarb. Served with the orange blossom-scented compote and the creamy ‘yogurt’, this makes for a beautifully coloured sublime spring-summer pudding."


Rhubarb cupcakes
1 tbsp milled flax seeds
3 tbsp filtered water
½ tsp apple cider vinegar
120 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) almond milk (or see recipe for nut milks)
300 g (10½ oz) rhubarb
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
140 g (5 oz/⅔ cup) coconut nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100 g (3½ oz/scant ⅔ cup) fine polenta (cornmeal)
100 g (3½ oz/⅔ cup) brown rice flour
4 tsp arrowroot
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
60 g (2 oz/generous ¼ cup) coconut oil, melted

Strawberry compote
200 g (7 oz) rhubarb
1 vanilla pod (bean), cut in half lengthways and seeds scraped out
1–2 tbsp raw honey or coconut nectar
4 oranges
300 g (10½ oz) strawberries, cut into quarters
3 tsp orange blossom water

Vanilla cashew ‘yogurt’
1 x recipe cashew cream 
½ vanilla pod (bean), cut in half lengthways and seeds scraped out
Finely grated zest and 4 tsp juice of ½ lemon
40 g (1½ oz/2 tbsp) raw clear honey or blonde coconut nectar
1½ tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 and line 15 small cake tins or muffin moulds with cake cases.

Combine the milled flax seeds with the water to form a gel, leaving to soak for 15 minutes. Stir the vinegar into the almond milk and set aside. Chop the rhubarb into ½ cm (⅕ inch) slices. In a bowl, combine it with the orange zest, coconut nectar and vanilla extract.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients from the polenta (cornmeal) to the salt. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and mix in the flax seed gel, almond milk mix, coconut oil and rhubarb, along with its juices, until just combined. Spoon the mix equally between the cake cases and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160°C/310°F/Gas Mark 2½ and bake for a further 10 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and firm to touch and a skewer inserted into a cake comes out clean. Leave to cool.

To make the compote, wash and dry the rhubarb, trim off the tops and ends and cut diagonally into 2.5 cm (1 inch) pieces. Put on a baking tray with half the vanilla seeds and the empty vanilla pod (bean), 1 tbsp of honey or coconut nectar and the zest and juice of half an orange. Cover the tray with foil. Bake for 10 minutes and then check. The younger and fresher the rhubarb is, the less time it takes to cook so be careful it doesn’t become mushy. Mix the rhubarb around and, unless already soft, cover with the foil again and return to the oven for about 5 more minutes or until it is soft and a skewer can easily be inserted into the centre of a piece. Leave to cool.

Place the strawberries in a large bowl. Peel the remaining oranges then cut out the segments with a serrated knife and add to the strawberries. Squeeze in any remaining juice from the orange centres. Add the rest of the vanilla seeds, the orange blossom water and the cooked rhubarb, stirring everything together. Taste and add another tablespoon of honey or coconut nectar if you like.

To make the vanilla cashew ‘yogurt’, blend all the ingredients until smooth.

Serve the cakes with the compote and ‘yogurt’ and enjoy. These are best eaten fresh but will keep for up to five days in a sealed container in the fridge, as will the compote and ‘yogurt’.

Recipe and images extracted from Clean Cakes by Henrietta Inman, photography by Lisa Linder. Published by Jacqui Small (£20).


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