[DeadHeadRooViews] – Drunken Kangaroo Fruitcake with Boozy Hibiscus Buttercream

Close up of a gluten free vegan pineapple fruit cake with a bright pink hibiscus flower on top pastel pink buttercream frosting with the fork slicing into the yellow and pink cake.

Ain’t No Cake Like a Kangaroo Cake, Cause a Kangaroo Cake’s Got a Kick!

This boozy cake is inspired by the flavors, flowers, and fruits of Australia!  Feel free to use the leftover Hibiscus Vodka and Hibiscus Infused Simple Syrup to mix up some unique cocktails to serve along with this cake at your next Australia Day celebration.

a sunset in the australian outback
Sunset near Alice Springs in Australia

A few fun facts about Australia
which also inspired this cake!

  1. Hibiscus is a popular floral plant which grows best in Northern Australia. It’s also a popular flavor used in Aussie drinks, cakes, and pastries.
  2. Australian pineapples are grown in Queensland.
  3. The 50-dollar note in Australia is also known as “A Pineapple”
  4. Australia boasts a National Apricot Breeding program, and apricots are among its top fruit exports during the Summer growing season.
  5. Although the vodka in this cake is not from Australia, craft vodka distilleries are on the rise in the land of Oz!   The vodka syrup and buttercream of this cake are also inspired by the kooky bar-hopping, drink swilling cast of characters in Alan Baxter’s “The Roo.”
close up of a young kangaroo asleep in the sun on red dirt with green plants and grasses around him
A young kangaroo is probably asleep in the sun but might also have had too much of this cake and be a little tipsy.

Onwards to the recipe!

Be conscious when embarking on your culinary adventure that you leave adequate prep time for this cake; it has multiple components needing advance preparation prior to cake assembly. You will need one to two days in advance to create your Hibiscus Infused Vodka, and it is best to chill the unfrosted cakes overnight.

a delicious pretty pink buttercream frosted cake with hibiscus blossom edges is shot at a very artsy angle with the front in focus and back fading out into a soft gauzy vignette

THIS CAKE CONTAINS ALCOHOL: It is recommended for adult consumption only, and will not be friendly to children.  Please, be courteous enough to warn your guests in advance that there is a slight alcohol content in the cake, and be mindful of your sober friends!

You will also have a lot of leftover Vodka and Vodka Syrup which would make for some great cocktails, but keep them out of reach of children!

If you experiment with non-alcoholic versions please leave your adjustments in the comments below for other readers!  You may wish to skip the vodka entirely and instead infuse the hibiscus blossoms in water, use that in place of regular water in the simple syrup, and soak the cakes in that instead. I have not tried it myself, but it should be a logical swap.  Just be prepared for a sweeter cake since it’s soaking in sugar syrup! It might also be lovely to soak it in a very strong hibiscus tea. Try your hand at it and see.

an overhead view of a pink buttercream frosted cake on a wooden table with hibiscus flowers along the edge and as an accent

Drunken Kangaroo Fruitcake
with Boozy Hibiscus Buttercream
(Vegan, Gluten Free)

(But don’t worry it tastes delicious! I promise!)

Hibiscus Infused Vodka

  • 2 cups good quality vodka
  • 6 tsp dried hibiscus blossoms
  • Airtight containers with lid to hold at least 2 cups

Place hibiscus tea in disposable tea bags and then add to vodka. Soak for at least 24 hours. Strain the hibiscus out of the vodka, squeezing the teabags to get as much tea out as possible.

Pour the infused vodka into an airtight container with a lid and set aside until you’re ready to use.

Can be used to make simple syrup or in place of regular vodka in cocktails!  This will last a few weeks if kept airtight, out of direct sunlight, but is best if consumed shortly after infusing.

Hibiscus Infused Vodka Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup of water (about 250ml)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (about 225g)
  • 1 ⅓ cup hibiscus vodka

Add the sugar and water into a small pot, stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool.  Once the simple syrup is cooled to room temperature, stir in the hibiscus vodka syrup. Store in the fridge until ready to use! Great for cocktail mixers, drizzling over cake, or pouring over top of your fave gelato or ice cream! This makes several cups of simple syrup, which is more than is required for the cake (I used about ⅔ of a cup for each 9 inch cake, but feel free to use more if you wish!)  This syrup should remain fresh for about a week in the fridge if stored properly in an airtight container.

Hibiscus Vodka Buttercream

  • 8oz non-dairy butter substitute like Earth Balance or Miyokos, softened to room temp.
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3 to 4 oz hibiscus simple syrup

In the large bowl of an electric stand mixer, or a deep bowl to be used with a hand mixer, add in the softened butter along with one cup of powdered sugar. Turn the mixer on low speed, adding in additional cups of sugar one at a time, and slowly increasing speed once the last cup has been tossed in.  While mixing on medium speed, drizzle in the hibiscus simple syrup. Whip until well incorporated and no streaks of syrup or powdered sugar remain. You may need to periodically stop the mixer and scrape down the sides so that everything is evenly incorporated. DO NOT toss in all 4 cups of sugar at once and then turn to high — that’s a rookie move that will end up with you covered in more powdered sugar than is in your frosting. TRUST ME, it’s not a good look HAHA!

Scoop your buttercream into your piping gun, frosting bag, or into a bowl and refrigerate until you’re ready to frost your cake.  Remember, you want frosting that is just slightly chilled above room temperature so it doesn’t melt off your cake but holds its shape if piping and is a paste-like consistency for even spreading!

Golden Pineapple and Apricot Spongecake

Makes 2 9-inch round cake pans.
Could easily make about 24 average size cupacakes with generous frosting.

[Units are in US measurements, Metric measurements are approximated to the best of my ability.]

  • 2 cups Unsweetened, Non-Dairy Milk (about 500ml)
  • 2 tsp white vinegar or cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 ½ TBSP hibiscus infused vodka
  • Optional: 2 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp dried hibiscus blossoms, crushed
  • ½ to 1 tsp turmeric (makes the cake yellow in hue)
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple, diced (about 150g)
  • ⅔ cup dried apricots, diced (about 100g)
  • ⅓ cup candied hibiscus flowers, chopped (about 20g) + ¼ c or more for decorating the cake
  • ⅔ cup Canola Oil or other neutral oil (about 180ml)
  • 3 cups King Arthur Gluten Free Flour (about 400g)
  • 4 TBSP Cornstarch (about 50g)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder (about 8g)
  • 1 tsp baking soda (about 6g)
  • 1 tsp salt (about 8g)
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar (about 375g)

Preheat the oven to 350º.  Cut two circles of parchment paper the size of the bottom of yoru cake tins, place inside the tins, then grease the pans with neutral oil non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk and the vinegar.  You’ll set this aside so it can thicken and “curdle.”

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the following dry-ingredients: flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt.  Whisk together to incorporate fully.

In another large bowl, mix the following wet-ingredients together: oil, hibiscus vodka, sugar, non-dairy milk mixture, turmeric powder, dried hibiscus blossoms, chopped candied hibiscus blossoms and vanilla extract if using.

Sift the flour mixture into the liquid mixture, and mix until no large clumps are remaining. Stir in the dried apricots and frozen pineapple chunks until evenly incorporated.  Don’t be alarmed if the yellow mixture momentarily turns bluish-lavender in hue! It will still bake into beautiful yellow cakes regardless.

Pour half of the batter into the two lined and greased 9-inch cake pans; try to fill them as evenly as possible so your cakes will cook at the same time.  Tap the filled cake pans gently on the countertop to eliminate excessive air bubbles.

Place your cake tins into the oven on the center rack for 30 to 40 minutes*, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top of the cakes are springy when pressed, but not wet.  It’s okay for the cakes to come out a little on the well done/dryer side as they’ll be soaked in a hibiscus vodka syrup which will add back some moisture.

Let the cakes cool in their tins for 5 to 10 minutes on a wire rack; when cooled just enough to handle, carefully transfer the cakes from their tins to parchment lined wire racks.  Be slow and gentle so as not to break the cakes during this process.**

Grab a small measuring cup and portion out ⅔ cup of the hibiscus simple syrup and gently drizzle across the top of the warm cake.***  Try to cover the top of the cake as evenly as you can. Feel free to add more syrup as needed to drizzle the entire cake, but using a little bit at a time ensures the cake will not be soaked through!!  This is a boozy syrup and you’ll be coating each half, so bear that in mind. Let the cakes cool to room temperature, cover with parchment and plastic wrap, then refrigerate for a minimum of two hours but preferably overnight.


While your cakes are cooling, prepare the buttercream frosting (see buttercream recipe!)  Before frosting, ensure that your buttercream is chilled to just above room temperature, and your cakes are fresh out the fridge.****

Once your syrup soaked cakes are well-chilled. Apply a modest layer of frosting to the top of both cake halves and then place them on top of one another with their frosting sides touching.  Pop them back into the fridge for a short while just so the center filling stiffens up, ensuring the cakes will slide less as you begin to frost the sides and top. Using a flat spatula or flat knife can help ensure the sides of your cake are frosted neatly; there are a lot of great cake decorating tutorials on YouTube if you’d like to perfect your craft.  Once the sides and top of cake are frosted, you can add your decorations! I sprinkled the edges of mine with chopped candied hibiscus blossoms and added 2 or 3 whole candied blossoms as an accent. You can use sprinkles or whatever you wish, or get fancy with a piping bag or piping gun if you’re up to snuff with cake decorating.

Serve your freshly decorated cake immediately, or chill until you’re ready to serve.  Remember to remove the cake from your refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to serving. Cold cake does not have much flavor. Bringing the cake to room temperature allows the flavors to mellow, the frosting to soften, and the cake to return to its light, airy texture. It will be much more enjoyable!

Handy Dandy Asterisked Notes Section

*Note #1: Oven cooking times can vary depending on size of oven or convection features; be sure to closely monitor your cakes towards the end of cooking time.  Rotate the pans as necessary to ensure even cooking. Avoid opening your oven too frequently as you can lose a lot of heat and alter the cooking temp drastically in doing so.

**Note #2: Placing a large, flat plate on top of the cake tin, then flipping it over and gently tapping the cake tin may be an easier method of cake removal from pan. You can then repeat this process by placing the parchment lined wire rack atop the plate and inverting it again to slide the cake off the plate on the pan

***Note #3: Don’t be alarmed if some or any of your cake begins to turn slightly lavender/blue in hue!  The hibiscus vodka syrup and the pineapple seem to cause a reaction that turns things a little blue. It’ll eventually return to mostly-normal yellow cake, and will also be covered by the electric pink frosting.

****Note #4:  Buttercream which is too soft will slide right off the cake and ooze out the center when you place the two halves on top of one another; you want it to be chilled just enough so that it is pliable and pipeable, but not runny!  Also, DO NOT try to frost a warm cake with buttercream — the results will be disastrous!! Refrigerating cakes prior to applying frosting them will prevent your cakes from crumbling as much, eliminate melting buttercream, and result in a much cleaner cake overall! If at any time during the frosting process you note that your cake is softening too quickly and crumbling to bits, you can place it back in the fridge to stiffen up again. 

Recipe by Ellen Avigliano.

Twitter: @imaginariumcs
Instagram: @thejackalopes.warren @imaginariumarts

I received an e-book version of “The Roo” for review consideration from the Author.

Published by Dead Head Reviews

Dead Head Reviews is a platform that promotes authors, publishers, film makers, and just about anyone you can think of in the horror community. They mainly focus on the book industry, but if something is horror-related, they want to get their hands on it.

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