Are you ready for some sugar and spice and everything nice?
If you’re just starting your journey into creating a supercharged kitchen or need a cooking upgrade, it’s time to have a little look at your spice rack. It’s one of the first places to begin a kitchen adventure or help spark a love affair with food. If you let it, your spice rack or drawer can be one of your most loyal supporters in the kitchen. Today I'm sharing how to build a spice rack and a delicious Cinnamon and Rhubarb cake recipe from my latest book Supercharge Your Life.
There’s much more to a spice rack than salt and pepper (though, they’re pretty good too!). A spice rack can serve as a kaleidoscope palette of flavoursome dried herbs and spices. Each spice or herb can impart a unique flavour to your cooking. While you can use a spice on its own, there are ways to pair spices up to create and complement any of your culinary cuisines.
Before we get to the spices themselves, we need to start from the very top. One of the first things to be mindful of when creating a spice rack or drawer is looking at the space you have in your kitchen and noting what’s the most practical option for you. If you’re in need of a drawer, many homeware stores have rectangular storage baskets that can slide in and out of your pantry or cupboards and can be filled with all of the spices of your dreams. If you’re an upcycler like myself, you may make a perfect wooden box the home of your new spice collection.
When it comes to the spices themselves, you can either keep them in their original packaging, invest in some kitchen storage bag clips to reseal them after opening and avoid any spilling that’ll make you cupboards constantly smell like curries on the stove…. actually, if that’s the case, it’s a free candle that’ll make your house smell aromatic like you’re cooking curries all the time. Who wouldn’t want to live that life?
Anyway, if you have space for a shelf or even a large walk-in pantry, you could dedicate a whole row to your spices using small screw-top preserving jars or the little spring-clip jars we spoke about earlier. To me, this is the ideal way to store spices, as it saves you time later fiddling through a spice drawer which can become a mess very easily. Before you ask, yes, your spices do deserve their own shelf because they’re seriously special and deserve to be treated that way (as individuals).
Because my kitchen is the hub of my home and I spend a lot of my time creating recipes (and I’m also a Virgo so I’m usually somewhat over-organised ;), I have all of my spices in alphabetical order for ease of use. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to go that far if you don’t want to! Instead, you can use a jar for every spice you have and use a labeller or permanent marker to indicate which spice is which. There are many spices similar in colour, so good labelling will save you sniffing time in the long-run! Not only are glass jars super aesthetically pleasing, they also let you see which ones you need to top up before they run out. Depending on the look of your kitchen, stacked rows of spices in jars can be both stylish and practical.
One of my favourite spices is cinnamon. It has a spicy and sweet taste that can be used when it’s ground or whole in both sweet and savoury dishes and it’s also extremely versatile and used in most cuisines around the world. It can help jazz up your morning porridge, bring life to a fruit salad or even sweeten your tea. Cinnamon has been found to stimulate digestion and appetite, soothe an upset stomach, relieve indigestion and improve circulation. Cinnamon is a regular player on my spice team as it adds a great sweetness and lightness to any recipe, including my Cinnamon and Rhubarb cake from Supercharge Your Life.
Another key spice in this recipe is nutmeg. While nutmeg may look similar to cinnamon, it’s spicier and more piquant. Nutmeg can be used grated or ground and pairs well with sweet potatoes, creamy vegetable bakes, or with meats such as lamb or pork. It adds depth and an earthy balance to desserts which is exactly why it’s included in this recipe.
Okay, okay, I’m sure you’re all clinging on the edge of your seat wanting to get a taste of this delicious cake! Sorry for the delay but it's really worth the wait. This cake truly celebrates rhubarb in all of its glory. While rhubarb is a perennial vegetable, it’s best in late summer and autumn. If you’re not rhubarb’s biggest fan because of the effort it takes to make it, I can understand. To me, the one and only thing about rhubarb that gets to me is that it takes a while to prepare. This recipe solves this problem because you don’t need to cook the rhubarb before! It’s added to the mixture when it’s raw and cooks while the cake bakes. Just to be safe, rinse fresh rhubarb stalks to remove dirt. Trim off the ends and remove any stringy pieces before you slice it.
If you don’t like rhubarb because it tastes too tart, be assured that the coconut sugar in this recipe brings out a subtle sweetness and caramel flavour that will make you change your mind forever.
I create this cake a lot at home and everyone loves it. If you’re looking for a magic trick, put this cake in front of your family and walk to the bathroom. Count to three. When you come back, the cake will magically disappear. Trust me. It’s happened to me multiple times. Just like magic.
Try out my spice rack tips and of course, my lovely Cinnamon and Rhubarb Cake from Supercharge Your Life and let me know down below if you love it as much as I do!
Cinnamon and rhubarb cake
- 60 g (21/4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 225 g (8 oz/11/2 cups) coconut sugar
- 2 eggs
- 200 g (7 oz/2 cups) almond meal
- 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) coconut cream
- 250 g (9 oz/2 cups) chopped rhubarb (see tip)
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Grease an 18 cm (7 inch) round cake tin or a 9 × 30 cm (31/2× 12 inch) loaf (bar) tin.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, lemon zest, coconut sugar and eggs until creamy. Fold in the almond meal, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and coconut cream. Gently fold in the rhubarb.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45–55 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed in the centre. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
If using a loaf tin, you can lay the rhubarb, unchopped, on top of the cake rather than stirring it through chopped. Brush the rhubarb and the top of the cake with warmed honey or rice malt syrup for a lovely glazed finish.