Hayley McKee’s Rhubarb and Pumpernickel Cake


All the best sour ingredients meet up in this bittersweet cake. Tart rye joins forces with liqueur-spiked rhubarb, a chocolate herb ganache and a garnish of crispy rye crouton

Serves 8 – 10

• 125g dutch (unsweetened) cocoa powder
• 250ml boiling water
• 1 pumpernickel bread slice, torn into rough crumbs
• 3 tablespoons orange flavoured liqueur (such as cointreau)
• 225g unsalted butter
• 185g soft brown sugar
• 345g caster (superfine) sugar
• 4 teaspoons molasses
• 4 eggs
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 2 teaspoons, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
• 1 teaspoon, salt
• 300g plain (all-purpose) flour
• 100g rye flour
• 250g sour cream
• 450g rhubarb, cut into 2 cm pieces
• rosemary blossoms, to decorate

For the herb ganache:
• 2 rosemary stalks
• 300ml thick (double/heavy) cream
• 250g good-quality dark chocolate (approx. 60% cocoa solids), broken into chunks

For the rye croutons:
• 2 dark rye bread slices, toasted and crusts removed
• 30g unsalted butter
• 1 1/2 tablespoons soft brown sugar

1 Preheat the oven to 175°C. Lightly grease and line individual mini bundt tins, a 12-hole standard muffin tin or a 22 cm round cake tin with baking paper.
2 For the herb ganache, add the rosemary stalks and cream to a saucepan, bring to a simmer and leave to cook over a low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool and infuse.
3 For the rye croutons, cut the toasted rye bread slices into 5 mm (¼ in) squares. Melt the butter in a frying pan set over a medium–high heat, add the sugar and the bread squares and cook until caramelised and lightly crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside.
4 Stir the cocoa powder and boiling water together in a bowl to make a thick paste.
Add the pumpernickel breadcrumbs to a separate bowl, pour over the liqueur and set aside to soak while you prepare the rest of the cake.
5 Beat the butter, sugars and molasses together in the bowl of an electric mixer for 10 minutes, or until fluffy. Continuing to beat on a low speed, add the eggs one at a time, followed by the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and half of the flours.
6 Add the sour cream, then the remainder of the dry ingredients. Pour over the chocolate paste and mix until evenly combined, then gently mix in the soaked pumpernickel and rhubarb.
7 Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes if using bundt or muffin tins, or 45 minutes if using a round cake tin, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
8 While the cakes are cooling, finish the ganache. Remove the rosemary stalks from the cream and add the dark chocolate, then transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of lightly simmering water.
9 Heat gently, stirring, until the chocolate has melted completely and the mixture is glossy.
10 Spread the ganache over the cooled cakes and decorate with the crispy rye croutons and a few rosemary blossoms.

Recipe courtesy of Hayley McKee, extracted from Sticky Fingers Green Thumb


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