Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Rhubarb & Rose Honey Cakes – Nonnettes

When I found that rhubarb had been picked for the One Ingredient blogging event in April, I so wanted to take part. But our rhubarb was ailing and I just can’t bring myself to buy something that we used to produce in prodigious quantities on our old allotment plot. The other day, however, my mother, called in with stack of rhubarb from her garden – plants we had luckily given her from our old plot. Hooray, the one ingredient challenge might be over, but I could bake with rhubarb. Since I saw the rose and rhubarb combination over at Laura of How to Cook Good Food, I’ve been itching to try it. My only dilemma was in what form? Actually, the dilemma was easily solved;  my one remaining duck egg supplier was attending a wedding this week and I had run out of eggs. An egg free bake was needed. Bingo! Nonnettes it had to be – not exactly a hardship in my experience! Since first trying Nonnettes back in December, I have become enraptured with these very tasty honey cakes. What with Friands as well as the Madeleines I have yet to bake, the French are little cake bakers par excellence.

I was quite excited at coming up with a Nonnette nouvelle. The combination of rose and roasted rhubarb jam has probably never been used before. This in conjunction with some delicious Cornish honey, ought to be irresistible, I thought. As we still had quite a bit of cake in the house from my recent Clandestine Cake Club event, I used half the normal quantities to make six rather than twelve individual cakes.

This is what I did:

  • Chopped up 4 sticks (about 300g) of washed & trimmed rhubarb into 1 cm lengths.
  • Placed these in a greased Pyrex dish and sprinkled a teaspoon of rose water over the top.
  • Spooned 50g cardamom sugar (caster sugar) over the rhubarb.
  • Roasted at 200C for 30 minutes.
  • Left to cool, then spooned into a jar.
  • Melted 40g unsalted butter in a pan.
  • Added 100g local Cornish runny honey and 50g light brown sugar.
  • Turned off the heat and added 50g milk, 40g water and 10g of rhubarb liqueur (homemade) with a tsp of rose water.
  • Stirred until smooth then left to cool.
  • Ground the seeds from two cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar.
  • Sifted 100g plain white flour, 50g rye flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda into a bowl.
  • Added the cardamom and the grated zest from 1/2 a small orange.
  • Stirred in 25g chopped white chocolate.
  • Made a well in the centre and poured in the honey mixture.
  • Stirred until all combined.
  • Divided the mixture between 6 buttered muffin moulds and placed in the fridge for an hour.
  • Placed a spoonful of rhubarb jam on the top of each one.
  • Baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
  • Left to cool
  • Mixed 1 tbsp icing sugar with a little rhubarb liqueur (homemade) and a drop of rose water to form a slightly runny icing.
  • Drizzled these over the cakes whilst they were still warm.

These turned out even better than I could have wished. After the first bite, I was very much regretting making six rather than twelve. They were absolutely scrummy and as CT stated later, tasted French – I think this was a compliment. They had a lovely soft texture which I attribute to the presence of rye flour. The rose made its presence felt but was not in the least overpowering and contrasted well with the distinctive tartness of the rhubarb. The roasted rhubarb jam was a delight in itself and has adorned various slices of toast all this week.

When making these Nonnettes, I had not one, not two, not three, but four blog challenges in mind:

Simple and in Season – a monthly challenge to get us to cook uncomplicated food using seasonal ingredients by Ren of Fabulicious Food. This month it is being guest hosted by Urvashi of The Botanical Baker.

Alpha BakesCaroline Makes and Ros of The more than occasional baker take it in turns to pick a random letter from the alphabet which inspires the theme of the bake. This month Caroline picked H and my H is for Honey Cakes.

Tea Time Treats – the fabulously sugar overloaded monthly tea time party run alternately by Karen of Lavender and Lovage and Kate of What Kate Baked. The theme this month is floral. Rose is my flower of choice, because I love roses as mentioned in previous posts and one of the reasons why I chose Rose as one of the We Should Cocoa challenges.

Made with Love Mondays – Javelin Warrior’s weekly challenge to get everyone making dishes from scratch from Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w / Luv.



  1. laura@howtocookgoodfood

    17th May 2012 at 8:51 am

    Wow, this mat just be a flavour sensation! I love the sound of your nonettes and didn’t know you could make rhubarb liqueur. I must keep that in mind for when our rhubarb patch is in full flourish next spring.
    What a clever recipe and one I will be trying out for myself, love it! xx

    • Choclette

      18th May 2012 at 2:23 pm

      Laura, thank you. The flavour combination was yours, but it does work so very well in these gorgeous cakes. We’ve just planted some new rhubarb, so maybe in a year or two we’ll get lucky. Rhubarb liqueur is dead easy to make. It’s just a case of chopping some rhubarb up into a jar, adding sugar to taste and filling with vodka. Leave for at least 6 months and longer if you can. You could always add a vanilla pod to it too.

  2. Alida

    17th May 2012 at 11:25 am

    These are really good cakes. I love the flavour of honey, surely better than sugar! X

    • Choclette

      18th May 2012 at 2:25 pm

      Yes Alida you are so right. Honey has at least got some health giving properties and it does taste so good.

  3. Alicia (foodycat)

    17th May 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I had rhubarb jam in a cafe this morning, and it was so good I am now craving rhubarb EVERYTHING! These nonettes look lovely.

    • Choclette

      18th May 2012 at 4:12 pm

      Know what you mean. I’m feeling rhubarb deprived. I’ve been used to having too much of it in the past and now we don’t have it growing any more, it’s a bit desperate. This jam was so easy to do, I shall be making more next time I get my hands on some.

  4. Javelin Warrior

    17th May 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I love the multi-tasking this recipe accomplished! I’ve never baked with rose water before but it sounds like it would be good with rhubarb. And I love how you managed to work in a little chocolate 😉 Thanks so much for sharing with Made with Love Mondays…

    • Choclette

      18th May 2012 at 4:14 pm

      I’m not usually this organised JW, so I was feeling rather pleased with myself 😉 Rose can be an acquired taste (although I love it), but it really works with some things and rhubarb is one of them. And of course I have to get a bit of chocolate in somewhere!

  5. chilliandchai

    17th May 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I’m about to put rhubarb in the oven, glad I stopped to read this first, will definitely be adding rosewater! Beautiful combination.

    • Choclette

      18th May 2012 at 4:16 pm

      It’s all in the timing! Glad it worked for you.

  6. Working london mummy

    17th May 2012 at 8:51 pm

    these look lovely, so delicious and a great combination of flavours. Your friand and nonette posts have inspired me to cook some Lemony friands today for this months One Ingredient challenge!

    • Choclette

      18th May 2012 at 4:17 pm

      Ooh now lemon friands sound really good – look forward to seeing those.

  7. Baking Addict

    17th May 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Thank you for entering these to Alphabakes! A lovely entry – I love the combination of rose, rhubarb and honey. Your nonnettes look so cute! You’ve almost beat me with the number of challenges entered with 1 recipe 🙂 Well done on the multi-tasking!

    • Choclette

      18th May 2012 at 4:19 pm

      Ros, it was you that inspired me to enter so many in one go – I wouldn’t want to take the title of champion from you 😉

  8. thelittleloaf

    18th May 2012 at 6:47 am

    You always make such gorgeous little cakes using really interesting flavours. I love the idea of combining tart rhubarb with floral honey and rose.

    • Choclette

      18th May 2012 at 4:22 pm

      Yes, I want to try and find all the classic little French cakes and give them a go, but I don’t really know how to find them. There don’t seem to be any books about it, only patisserie which I love to eat, but not to make! This was a lovely combination which I really must remember.

  9. Jacqueline

    18th May 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Those sound amazing Choclette. And wow, the flavours. Amazing!

  10. Karen S Booth

    18th May 2012 at 8:40 pm

    FABULOUS cakes and I am SO impressed that these cakes fitted FOUR blog challenges! LOL! Good for you! I LOVE Nonnettes, our local patisserie stocks them! THANKS for this fab Tea Time Treats entry.

  11. Caroline

    19th May 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Oh, thanks for reminding me about the nonettes – I meant to make them when you first posted them. Must get round to it. Bookmarking this post to remind me! Love the sounds of your flavour combo too.

  12. Janice

    19th May 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Thank you for this recipe. My rhubarb is at it’s peak just now, so I could do to make something with it. Probably make a variation on this rather than with the rose flavour, will let you know how i get on.

  13. celia

    19th May 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Sounds like a fabulous combination of flavours, Choc! You’re always so creative! 🙂

  14. Kit @ i-lostinausten

    22nd May 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Lovely cake with all the flavor that I love! Glad to find another rhubarb recipe coz I’m actually looking for some rhubarb recipes. I’ve just planted a rhubarb in our veg patch! And again another amazing recipe from you, Choclette! Have a lovely day! 🙂

  15. Phil in the Kitchen

    22nd May 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Nice variation on the old nonnette – sounds delicious. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a rhubarb version before.

  16. cakeboule

    23rd May 2012 at 9:34 pm

    These were what you were talking back a while ago – I have never made any of the nonnette or madelines but I am going to – love the fact they are egg free as I have not done that yet!

  17. Homeandfood

    29th June 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Rhubarb and rose are flavours that are perfect for summer, these look really good.
    Never tried making nonnettes myself but will have a go soon hopefully.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  18. Lucy Taylor

    11th February 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Rhubarb is so underrated – and so easy to grow! Ths recipe looks divine.


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