rhubarb cake!

It is my birthday! And also Doug’s and the eve of my Dad’s and the dawn after Stefani’s. And maybe also yours??? Happy birthday to all of us! It’s a great day to turn 29. 28 was honestly starting to feel a little stale, although it was a great year! It had a solid ratio of time spent doing things I love (making cake! traveling about! sitting on the couch with Eggboy watching tv eating dinner with my favorite spoon!) to things I don’t love (brushing my hair! cleaning the fridge!) so I’ll try to keep that going. Overall I think one big takeaway from this year was that I learned to like doing healthy things more, like drinking green juice and being up to date on my dentist visits. Kind of vanilla, right?!? My 22-year-old self would have felt so ashamed that this was my big birthday takeaway but well here it is. It’s probably just that my older wiser brain can now see further into the future and know more easily when something that feels fun at the time, like putting too much mayonnaise on my french fries, isn’t going to feel good in my belly after an hour. Which doesn’t mean I don’t do that anymore I just do it less. 

So with that I’d like to announce a temporary hold on my birthday breakfast sandwich tradition, for I will be having a green juice. And then I’ll be working out, and then getting a massage with the strongest masseuse in town, then I’m going to lunch at the museum cafe, and then I’m going to sit down with my favorite cookbooks and plan really awesome dinners for the rest of the week until dinner time when I’m going to make chèvre chaud salads for Eggboy and me. A salad! For my birthday dinner! I barely recognize myself. I’ve just been craving it soo hard since Paris (omg cannot wait to tell you about Paris) and fried cheese on a salad is my favorite form of balance. 

There will also be this rhubarb cake but not until the weekend when I defrost this sucker for some friends!! It was going to be an alpaca cake until I realized that llama has a silent “l” at the beginning and that’s way more quirky and cool than the trendy alpaca. No offense, alpacas. So this is a happy llama cake! It was inspired by this embroidered llama and I used this cookie cutter. My biggest challenge was making it not look like a baby shower cake, hence the mustard yellow frosting. 

I’m so happy that I could use some of our backyard rhubarb in this. Before it even popped up, I knew I wanted to make a pink fluffy buttery cake. Just like Stella's and Adrianna’s strawberry cakes but rhubarby. Only when I googled rhubarb cake the only things that came up were cakes with entire stalks of rhubarb in the batter or upside down cakes. So I experimented, using my funfetti cake as a general roadmap and turning to Stella's and Adrianna’s cake as examples for incorporating fruit purée. I thought I’d have a long road of hibiscus-cake-style tweaking ahead of me since rhubarb is quite sour and anytime you change the pH of a batter you need to pay attention to the leavening amounts, but it turns out strawberry and rhubarb have extremely similar pH levels. So the first go was deeelicious! Fluffy, buttery, fruity, and bright. A handful of moisture tweaks later and here it is! It's so tasty and the sourness of the rhubarb balances the sweetness really nicely. To emphasis the rhubarb flavor, I’ve added a layer of rhubarb jam between the layers, along with buttercream. I like a basic vanilla buttercream with this but if rhubarb buttercream is speaking to you then go for it!


rhubarb cake

makes one 2-layer 8" cake

ingredients

cake:

10 oz (284g) rhubarb, chopped, simmer

1/4 c water 

1/2 c whole milk

2 3/4 c (352g) cake flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 c (225g) unsalted butter, softened

1/4 c (50g) flavorless oil

1 1/2 c (300g) sugar

Red or pink food coloring, optional

4 large egg whites, at room temperature

2 tsp vanilla

 

assembly:

vanilla frosting (recipe here) or rhubarb frosting (recipe below)

rhubarb jam (1/4 c per layer)

sprinkles, marzipan, optional but recommended

 

clues

Preheat the oven to 350°f. Grease and line the bottoms of two 8” cake pans with parchment and set aside. 

Combine the rhubarb and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the rhubarb is very soft. Let it cool and then combine with the milk in a blender and purée until very smooth.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter, oil, sugar, and food coloring, if using, and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the egg whites one at a time, mixing after each, and then add the vanilla. Reduce the mixer to medium low and add the dry ingredients and rhubarb purée in three alternating additions, mixing just until incorporated. Do not over-beat. Divide the batter between the two cake pans and spread it out evenly. Give them a tap on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles and then bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make your frosting of choice! 

Stack up the layers with a thin layer of frosting and rhubarb jam in the middle. If you want to get really fancy and have more rhubarb jam distributed throughout you can slice the layers in half to make four very thin layers. To make the cake pictured, add a layer of funfetti cake in the middle.

Decorate with sprinkles and a marzipan llama. Or alpaca. Up to you.


rhubarb frosting

makes enough for one 2-layer 8" cake

ingredients

8 oz (226g) rhubarb, chopped

2 tb water

1 1/2 c (338g) unsalted butter, softened

5 c (600g) powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

1/4 tsp rosewater, optional

1/4 tsp kosher salt

3 tb heavy cream

pink food coloring, optional
 

clues

Combine the rhubarb and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the rhubarb is very soft. Let it cool and then purée in a blender.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add the powdered sugar gradually and mix until combined. Add the vanilla, rosewater (if using), and salt and then gradually mix in the cooled rhubarb puree. It may look curdled but continue to beat for 3-5 minutes until combined. Add the heavy cream and food coloring (if using) and beat until combined.


-yeh!

Photos by Chantell and Brett Quernemoen

Pictured: Sweater (cuyana), Funfetti socks (old navy), cake stand (mosser glass)



P.S. Thank you, friends, soooooooooooo much for all of your sweet messages about Girl Meets Farm!! I am so darn thankful for your support and I cannot wait to show you behind the scenes pics and vids and tell you all about the process of filming. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for June 24th, 11am eastern/10am central/11am pacific!