Apple and Date Cupcakes with Coconut Yogurt Icing

Gluten Free, Vegan, Sugar Free

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Yesterday my beautiful friend Maddie had her twentieth birthday party. Last year I made her this lemon sponge birthday cake and covered it in sugar flowers and told you all how much I love Maddie, if you want to read that. This year I wanted to make the MOST EPIC CAKE OF ALL TIME.

Maddie loves banoffee pie so I decided to make a four-layer caramel mud cake with banana and cream filling and chocolate ganache covering the entire thing. So I got up early, went and bought all the ingredients, whipped up my cake feeling like a casual Masterchef, and as I was cleaning up I found the pound of sugar sitting on the counter. Not in the cake, like it was supposed to be, just relaxing on my counter.

Uuugh. Life’s struggles. I tried to fix it by covering every single layer in a thick layer of more caramel as well as the chocolate and bananas and cream, and it ended up pretty awesome. But I think it would probably have tasted better with you know, sugar in it.

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Lots of people tell me they’re too scared to bake or try my recipes because they might stuff up or they’re not “good enough.” To them I say, I stuff up all the time. Like literally every time I make something there’s a stage that goes wrong somewhere in there. But it doesn’t matter! Try it anyway, and if you have to go out and buy a jar of Dulce de Leche to smother on your sugar-free cake, that’s ok too.

You can never get any better if you don’t try in the first place. Which brings me to these cupcakes. Ever since I made these apple and cinnamon cream cheese cupcakes, I’ve been wanting to make a gluten free AND vegan version that’s just as good as the original.

I was waay too scared for ages because my memory of them was so perfect, I didn’t want a mediocre cupcake to replace it. But finally thought, geez Lil. Just go make the cupcakes already. With the help of My Darling Lemon Thyme‘s gluten free muffin recipe I finally cracked the apple cinnamon cupcake challenge.

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I’m going to go as far to say that these are better than the original muffins. And they happen to be way better for you too! There’s no eggs, dairy, gluten or refined sugar in them at all and they also happen to be super easy to make.

I’m always worried when I make gluten free cupcakes that the texture will be either super powdery, or gluggy, or dense. These weren’t any of these. My sister ate one not knowing they were gluten free and said they were crumbly but moist (mooooooist), like the perfect cupcake. So there you go, the Cake Kahuna has spoken. You can replace the apple with carrot or pear if you want! You could add chopped almonds or walnuts, sultanas instead of the dates, and you can even leave out the icing.

By the way, I am calling these cupcakes but they are technically muffins…But in my mind once it has icing it is a cupcake, so…yeah. They’re cupcake muffins. Have a great week guys!

One Year Ago: Lemon Berry Butter Cake

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Apple and Date Cupcakes with Coconut Icing
Recipe inspired from this book
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cup fine brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato flour
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 heaped tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten OR 2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 4 tbsp water for vegan
3 apples, washed and grated
1/2 cup dates, chopped into chunks

1.5 cups (370g) coconut yogurt (or normal yogurt)
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp brown sugar (optional but awesome)
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Preheat the oven to 180C (356F) and line 10 muffin moulds with muffin cups. Whisk together in a bowl the dry ingredients well. In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients. Gently fold the wet into the dry and fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 17-22 minutes, until golden on top and cooked through. Leave to cool.

Drain the coconut or normal yogurt in a sieve lined with a teatowel for a few hours, to make Labneh. Mix with the maple syrup and brown sugar and pipe over the cupcakes. Once iced, keep the cupcakes in the fridge.
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Apple and Pear Honey Crumble with Toasted Almonds

Optional Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

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Ok, I’ve finally accepted it. It’s officially winter now in Sydney. I may or may not have attempted to hang on to Summer for a little too long this year. I may have bought a bikini yesterday. And a pair of shorts. But to be fair the warm weather lasted for ages! There were a few chilly nights, where I insisted on wearing summer clothes and ended up having to shelter under my taller friends’ armpits for warmth. But all in all this Autumn was rather balmy. 

It’s strange how in Sydney no one really accepts that it gets cold in Winter. All through Summer everyone’s super prepared with their chilled watermelon and beach trips, but come winter literally no one knows how to act. No one even owns proper coats, let alone umbrellas or *gasp* thermals. For the first time ever last night I actually used the heating in my room, thinking, “hmm. 28C seems like a pretty nice temperature.” One hour later I woke up sweaty and panicked, dopey from all the gas in my room. I had to crawl to the remote and turn the heat down. I had to crawl.

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So today this is my slightly better remedy for winter. Everyone knows the best part about winter is the dessert. It must be warm and it must be served with vanilla ice cream. Otherwise the criteria is pretty vague. We had a whole bunch of pears and apples sitting in the fruit bowl and at first I was going to make a pie, but who has time for that?! Also, I wanted to eat this particular dessert for breakfast. This was also why I made the crumble in individual bowls, so that no confused lost soul would accidentally think I made the crumble for sharing purposes. 

I decided to try some new flavours in the crumble as a little experiment, and they worked so well I knew I had to post the recipe. The cinnamon and honey go so well with the pears! I literally couldn’t stop eating it. But the flavour that worked best was the oranges I squeezed over the fruit to stop it going brown. We had heaps of oranges as well and I juiced a couple to stop the fruit going brown as I took photos. Holy moly! It made the filling so much better! I would possibly vote this crumble one of the best I’ve ever tasted. 

Remember to serve with ice cream. And you should probably wear woolly socks whilst you eat it, preferably whilst watching Brigitte Jones Diary. But it’s up to you 🙂

One Year Ago: Tangy Lemon Curd Frozen Yogurt

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 Apple Crumble with Honey and Almonds:

6 medium firm apples, peeled and sliced 

6 medium firm pears, peeled and sliced

juice of 2-3 medium oranges

1 heaped tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp runny honey, or maple syrup for vegan

For the fruit filling, combine everything in a heavy bottomed pan and cook, covered, on a low heat for about 15 minutes, until the fruit is soft but still holding its shape. Preheat the oven to 160C (320F). 

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For the crumble:

50g butter (vegan butter or coconut butter can be substituted for vegan) chopped 

100g wholemeal flour (almond butter for gluten free)

100g gluten-free oats

40g toasted almonds, chopped roughly

2 tbsp raw sugar 

25ml almond milk

Rub the butter and flour together in a bowl between your fingers until the mixture is crumbly but not doughy. Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients until combined. Pour over the almond milk and chop through the mixture with the spoon until everything is lightly crumbly. 

Spoon the fruit into an oven proof dish (or around 6-8 small ones). Cover with the crumble and bake for half an hour, until the top is toasty and golden and the fruit bubbling. Serve warm with ice cream.

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Guest Post: Healthy Apple and Cinnamon Coconut Crumble

Vegan, Wholemeal, Low Fat, Sugar Free

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Hey guys! I’m doing a guest post over at Smoothie Lover today with this recipe and a little about my food philosophy so go check it out!
Josefine’s blog is seriously beautiful. She makes healthy vegetarian food and her desserts are always amazing! I’ve been following her for a while now and am constantly impressed by how quickly her blog has grown and how lovely her photos are becoming. This apple crumble started life out as a simple way to use up all the apples in the fridge, but it turned in to one of the tastiest crumbles ever especially with all the coconut going on in there.

Also I’m sad about the photos. Everything was going along great until the sun decided to abort mission early and set at 4 in the afternoon! Before I’d finished taking my photos!! So please forgive the lack of an inside shot and just trust that it tasted epic. I’m going to try and do another post before Easter but if not, happy holidays guys!!

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 Some of the beautiful things you have to check out on Josefine’s blog:

Her honey and dried fig scones. The combination of honey and fig anything is just out of this world and combined with a scone!!!

These perfect raw tarts would make the best fancy dessert ever!

And the tastiest looking falafel recipe ever. 

Thank you Josefine for having me on your blog today! 

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Apple, Almond and Raspberry Crumble Cake

Gluten Free and Refined Sugar Free, opt. Vegan

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 The first cake I ever made was a peach upside down cake. I was on holidays at Jervis Bay and me, my sister and friend were thinking of something to do. It was raining, so we couldn’t go swimming or bike riding. And it was still those olden days when kids didn’t have Iphones or laptops until they were at least thirteen. So we decided to make a cake. We cut up a peach and put it in the bottom of a cake pan. Then we got a Green’s cake mix and added the water and eggs, then poured it over the top. Pretty impressive for some little kiddies right? If only we’d buttered the pan. 

I remember making that cake was the first baking I’d ever seen or done in my life. No one baked in my family and we didn’t even really eat sweets, besides for cream and jam sponge cake on our birthdays. I thought the cake was incredible! The peaches sunk into the cake and made a crispy, jammy layer on the bottom of the pan. The cake was raw in the middle and overflowing at times, but it was a real cake! Full of fresh peaches no less. It made me think of all the other possible things you could try to put in a cake. It made me realise that cakes don’t have to only be one flavour! Recipes are just a guideline ripe and ready for adapting!

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 While it can be fun to follow a recipe exactly, especially a complicated one, and come out on the other side with the perfect chocolate mousse or the perfect meringue, making your own way usually leads to the most memorable desserts. This cake/crumble/fruit blob today is the perfect example of where deviating from the recipe can end up in something way yummier and more exciting than you originally intended. I had been dreaming of these rhubarb crumble bars for ages, and was planning on making an apple and rhubarb version with cinnamon instead of coconut. And then I lost the rhubarb…apparently it was in the drinks fridge. (Yes, the most plausible place to keep rhubarb, I agree) But I’d already cut up all my apples!

I used London Bakes Blackberry and Oat Crumble as a base and decided to adapt it to make some gluten free raspberry and apple crumble bars. Everyone likes raspberry and apple right? But when the “bars” came out of the oven, bars they were not. I’d added too much fruit to base ratio to start with, and the crumble was freestyling all over the place, more like an apple crisp than a bar! Oh no! But then I tried it. Wow. It was so rich and almondy and tart from the berries, gooey and sweet from the apples, crunchy and coconutty, cinnamon flecked, vanilla scented, heaven. I wouldn’t change a single thing in this recipe. It’s the perfect comforting bowl of crumble, because there’s a nutty almond base that tastes exactly like the filling in an almond croissant! And it soaks up all those pesky fruit juices. Vanilla Ice Cream is the only thing that should accompany a big, steaming serve of this apple and raspberry almond…cake? Crumble? Let’s just call it pudding. 

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Apple, Almond and Raspberry Crumble Cake: Adapted from this recipe

300g (2.5 cups) chopped apple (about 3 medium)

50g (1/3 cup) raspberries

30g (2 tbsp) demerara sugar

50g (1/2 cup) almond meal

55g (1/2 stick) butter or coconut butter, cold and cubed 

30g (1/4 cup) oats

20g (2 tbsp) mixed seeds and slivered nuts

 

110g (1 stick) butter or coconut butter

160ml (3/4 cup) honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs or 2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 4 tbsp water and left to gel

100g (1 cup) almond meal

1 tsp baking powder

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Use your fingers to crumble the 50g almond meal, 50g butter and raw sugar into a bread-crumb like consistency. Stir in the oats and seeds. Preheat the oven to 160C (340F). Line a 20cm x 20cm (8 x 8 inch) pan with baking paper. Beat the 110g butter and honey together until smooth and fluffy. Add in the chia eggs or normal eggs and beat until smooth. Add in the vanilla, then the almond meal and baking powder. Mix until smooth. Pour into the bottom of the tin and smooth down. Sprinkle over the chopped apple (you can leave the skin on) and the raspberries. Sprinkle over the crumble mix. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the fruit is soft and oozing and the cake edges are set. Eat warm with ice cream! 

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Whole-Wheat and Vegan Apple Spice Cake

 Vegan and Refined Sugar Free<a
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 To be honest, I was a little bit disappointed when my friend requested for her birthday cake not a towering chocolate and caramel creation, or some challenging multi-layered pastry tart, but a simple apple tea cake. Simple and tea and birthday and cake are not words meant to be put together in the same sentence! Birthdays are such a good excuse to make lots of pretty layers with all the favourite flavours of the birthday girl or boy. Simple tea cakes, they can kind of be made any day! I expected big things from this friend. She is a pretty impressive lover of cakes that has eaten many a brownie or slice of cake I’ve brought in to school or uni. But you can’t go against birthday wishes.

There’s a reason under “decorative/layer cakes” in my recipe section there’s no healthy recipes yet listed. (Apart from it being an obvious major challenge) usually celebration cakes are meant to be just that, a bit of a celebration. They’re meant to be sky-high for lots of sharing. And they’re meant to be specially flavoured depending on the cake receiver. They’re meant to look really pretty and dressed up in fluffy icing, or elegant and drizzled with some dark chocolate ganache. How was I meant to make an any day apple teacake that lived up to these kind of birthday dreams?? 

But this cake turned out not to be an any day sort of cake.

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To start with, the smell of it baking in the oven is amaazing. Think warm apple pie and spice cookies and hot crumbles and custard and mmmmm. You might think this is weird, but once it was baked I put it on a plate, brought it upstairs and kept the cake next to my computer all morning, so that while I studied I could smell it’s apply, spicy goodness. All day the house smelled like cinnamon and apple, and I’m kind of sad no one needs an apple cake again today just to perfume the house. 

The recipe is adapted from The Healthy Chef, a great baking blog full of healthy recipe ideas. I wasn’t actually looking for a “healthy” recipe, just one that didn’t use eggs, milk or white flour. (Ok, I know how silly that sounded). And I’ll admit, at first I was a little worried that a cake made entirely on a foundation of cubed apples would be a little…bland. Or watery. Or strange and thick. It really wasn’t at all though. I should have known from the combination of apple and cinnamon in cupcakes I’ve made before, that it was going to turn out well. I used wholemeal flour, and it formed the barest wisp of custard-like batter around the soft, spiced apples. There’s something really warm about this cake, even if you eat it cold. It tastes a lot like the insides of an apple pie.

The birthday girl really liked it too, which must be a good sign. I’m one of those terrible people that gives someone a birthday cake, and proceeds to eat a slice of it almost straight away and sometimes asks for another piece before they’re finished theirs. So I had ample opportunity to sample this cake. Between three of us we almost ate the entire thing in under an hour, which is a testament to how easy it is to eat. It’s a very light cake, and fun fact; if you cut it into 12 slices it’s less than 150 calories for a piece. 

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 I don’t really think about calories very much but that’s pretty impressive for something that tastes like pie. I think so, anyway. You always hear people advertising their recipes as healthy enough to “eat for breakfast”. Well this cake is definitely healthy enough to eat for breakfast. It’s like an entire serving of fruit just for you. And all the goodness of whole grains! And olive oil for your skin! 

Also, who likes my new doilies? Doilies are No. 1, the funnest name of anything ever, and No. 2 the funnest pieces of cloth ever. Seriously, they’re so random. Imagine the days when every afternoon people had tea and cake and a table covered with scones and doilies. Times have really changed. My new doilies are actually old doilies from Vinnies discovered by my step-dad and quickly purchased. I love the little flower patterns, they’re actually so cute. I like to think they were knitted by a little grandma somewhere for her grandkids who grew up and didn’t really need or want so many doilies, and now they’ve come to me. 

The original recipe calls for almond meal and a topping of walnuts, which I omitted. If you like nuts or want a gluten free option, substitute 2 cups of almond flour for the 1 cup of wholemeal, and increase the amount of apples to about eight. Believe me, I tried to fit in the original recipe’s calling for 800g of apple chunks, but there was just no way the tin or the batter was going to hold so much apple. It was pretty heavy on the apple as it were. But if you want more of an apple slice with occasional hints of cake batter, the original recipe calls for 800g (about 7 medium apples). 

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Wholemeal Apple Cinnamon Cake: Adapted from Apple Cake

2 tablespoons chia seeds mixed with 4 tablespoons water to form a gel

130g (1 cup) wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg and ground ginger

600g apple (3 cups, just over a pound), chopped into small 2cm chunks (skinned optional)

70ml (1/4 cup) olive oil

85ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup or runny honey for non-vegan

110ml soy, almond or rice milk (1/2 cup)

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 Method:

Stir up the chia and water and leave to thicken.

Preheat the oven to 150C (300F) and grease line a 20cm round cake tin (8 inch) with baking paper. Whisk in a bowl the flour, spices and baking powder. Mix the honey, oil, milk and chia water together and add to the dry ingredients. Stir gently to combine. Pour in the apple chunks and stir everything gently together until just combined. Bake for about 35 minutes to 45. It’s hard to tell if the cake is done because the apple chunks will wipe any mix off a skewer, but the middle should spring bake when you touch it and the cake should be nice and domed. The edges should be just beginning to pull away from the sides of the tin. Cut into slices and eat warm, but it’s great at room temperature too. Best eaten within two days, any longer and the top will go slightly soft from the juice of the apples. IMG_6873 

Apple, Quince and Walnut Cinnamon Pie

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The first time I saw a quince I had no idea what it was. Trying to be cool and down with the fruit I picked it up and said something like, “oh sweet, I love these old…fruits…” before dropping it on the floor. My quince days were meant to end here, but last week a friend gave me three enormous ones from a tray she’d bought. 

 So I did some googling. After consulting some trusty sources I tried poaching two of the quince with sugar, cinnamon, star anise, vanilla and lemon peel for two hours. I was sure by the end they would be mushy and brown but they weren’t! They blushed a deep red and tasted like gently spiced apple and rose water. 

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 Quince (quinces?) are so nice! I decided to make a pie with the remaining giant quince and some apples. This here is a deep dish pie with a walnut crumble base under the fruit that stops the bottom getting super soggaay. I’ve actually never made a pie before. I wish this was the part where I could say “it was so easy! I must have been a lattice pie in my previous life” but no. I didn’t think it was super easy at all. To begin with my scales broke, so everything was a bit of a guess. Also I wasn’t really following any recipe and being my first pie attempt, that wasn’t one of my best ideas. 

Screen shot 2013-11-21 at 9.23.47 AM So it came out a bit rustic. For starters I tried to blend everything in the blender just as it said in the recipe. For a moment I believed in a world where when the instruction says “blend flour and butter until it resembles bread crumbs” I could actually blend flour and butter until they resembled bread crumbs. My blender cut one piece of butter before getting stuck, so I rolled it out by hand. I didn’t chill the dough enough so it kept falling apart when I tried to roll it. I forgot to chill the pastry before baking it, then pulled it out hot from the oven with my bare hands! The enormity of the moment somehow made this seem like a good idea. But in the end, after many fixing attempts, there was pie. I feel like pies can take a few mistakes in their stride and still be happy. 
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Apple and Quince Walnut Pie: Adapted from Delicious Magazine
 Start with the poached quince and apple:

1 giant quince or 2 medium, peeled and cut into 2cm dice

4 apples peeled and cut into 2cm dice

3 cups of water mixed with 225g (1 cup) of caster sugar

2 cinnamon sticks, 3 star anise, piece of lemon peel, pinch of nutmeg and ginger

Juice of 1 lemon

Put the quince and everything but the apples in a pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1-2 hours until orange and soft. Meanwhile, toss the apple chunks with the lemon to stop them browning. In the last ten minutes of the quince cooking time, add to the pot and simmer until soft but still firm. Set fruit aside.  IMG_4953

For the pie:

290g (2 + 1/3 cups) plain flour

65g (1/2 cup) icing sugar

200g (7 ounces, 1/2 pound) butter, chilled and diced

60ml (1/4 cup) chilled water

85g (1/2 cup) walnuts, blended or crushed with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon

If you have a powerful blender, blend the butter, sugar and flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Otherwise pinch together the butter and flour until the same. Add a dash of water at a time, blending or folding the dough until it just comes together. Don’t overwork it! Roll into a bowl, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 200C. Roll out 2/3 of the pastry and reserve the rest in the fridge. Grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line it with the pastry. Freeze for 10 minutes until firm. Line with baking paper and fill the pie with baking weights or beans, and bake for 10-15 minutes until pastry is golden brown. Sprinkle the walnut and sugar mixtures over the base of the pastry and then place the drained fruit on top. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into strips. Lay over in a lattice pattern (start with one horizontal at the base of the pie, then one vertical on the left hand side, etc…). Brush pastry with a splash of milk or egg yolk, and bake for 20 minutes until golden.Allow to cool slightly and serve with vanilla ice cream or custard 🙂
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Rhubarb and Coconut Crumble Slice

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I have one thing to say about this cake. It made me do something I have done never before. Never. Before. I had just taken the first photo, picked up a knife to cut out an artful slice. Before I knew what was happening my camera had been flung to the side, I had grabbed a plate and was eating an enormous piece right there in the morning sunshine. It was glorious. 
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The base is a buttermilk cake that bakes into a deep, golden yellow full of lemon zest and cinnamon. On top of this, fresh rhubarb is chopped up with sweet and crisp apples. This is tossed with sugar and lemon juice so that it bakes into a sweet, jammy, tart centre. What makes this cake perfect though is the coconut and brown sugar topping, that bakes into a deep brown crunchy crumble. I ate it while it was still warm and the fruit juices were just starting to set into a ruby jelly around the edges. I made it to last a few days, and I’m sure it would have tasted lovely the next morning with some tea. Unfortunately everyone that’s walked through the door has taken one look and demanded a slice, and then looked up with exactly the same look of “whaaat is this slice TALKIN ABOUT.” Eight hours later there’s hardly any left.
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I read about this delicious recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and was drawn to it because of the huge bunch of rhubarb we had. Family friends recently gave us a bag full of lemons from their tree. The zest was so fragrant I increased the amount to two teaspoons and added lemon juice to the rhubarb and apple. The coconut in the topping was a little bit of an experiment, but I’m so glad I tried it. It makes the crumble chunky and crispy, and adds a tropical flavour. If you don’t have any rhubarb, stone fruits would work well instead. Apples could be nice except the sugar would have to be reduced, otherwise it might end up too sweet.
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Rhubarb and Coconut Crumble Slice: Adapted from here

500 grams (17.5 ounces, 1 pound) rhubarb, cut into 1cm chunks

2 small apples, peeled and cut into chunks

2 tsp lemon zest and the juice of the whole lemon

150 grams (2/3 cup) sugar + 100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar, separate

2 large eggs

110 grams (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter

165 grams (1 + 1/3 cups) plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

100ml (1/3 cup) buttermilk 

Toss the apple, rhubarb, sugar and lemon juice with 150g of the sugar and set aside. Preheat the oven to 165C and line a 20 by 25cm pan (also works with slightly larger) with baking paper so that the edges are overhanging. Beat the sugar and butter together until fluffy and light and slowly add the eggs one at a time. Whisk the flour, baking powder and cinnamon together and stir half into the mix, than stir in half the buttermilk. Repeat and mix until just combined. Pat into the pan with a spatula and pour the fruit on top evenly. 
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Topping:

50 grams plain flour

85 grams fine desiccated coconut

1 tsp cinnamon

50 grams brown sugar

55 grams butter, melted. 

Stir all the ingredients together until lumpy and toss over the fruit. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the top is golden and the cake is no longer crumby on a skewer. Allow to cool so the fruit is set before removing from the pan and cutting into slices. 

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