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 sprinkle 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



10 oz (284g) rhubarb, chopped

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



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

rhubarb jam (1/4 c per layer)

sprinkles, marzipan, optional but recommended



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


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


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.


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!

carrot cake with hawaij and tahini caramel frosting

It’s my birthday! Yay! More importantly, however, my pops is turning 60 tomorrow. Sixty! His hair is still heavier on the pepper than the salt, and he wears a Bernie Sanders t-shirt every day. And the other day he told me with a spring in his step that he plans to work for at least like 20 more years, which made me really happy because one downside about living in Winterfell is that I can’t go to his concerts whenever I please. So I’m feeling pretty good that he has 20 years of that klezmer section in Mahler one left in him. 

His true superhero power though is that he’s like a human garbage disposal in that he eats everything, in monstrous quantities (even if it’s years past the expiration date), and he loves all of  the food. With the exception of goat cheese. One thing in particular that he couldn’t shut up about recently was a carrot cake from the Blue Door Farm Stand, near where he lives. The cake is huge and filled with nuts and my dad just foams at the mouth about it. So this year for my birthday, but more importantly his, I’ve gained an understanding of carrot cake.

When I worked at the town bakery, I dreaded making carrot cake because it required using the food processor, the stand mixer, piping bags to make the little carrots, and (ugh) the can opener to open up the can of pineapple. H8 can openers. But carrot cake is good, and the process of making it is pretty unique, so it was time I got to know it. 

The first thing that aided my understanding of it was the idea that “carrot cake is ultimately a spice cake.” The carrots aren’t meant to be front and center, and Allison confirms this in her non-negotiables of carrot cake, which you all should read right now. It sets the world straight on pineapple, coconut, and raisins. Which I agree with, because a raisin’s place in my kitchen is *exclusively* on ants on a log, and also because I like the idea of achieving the best possible cake with the least amount of ingredients. Pineapple and coconut are for another time and another cake, for now we’re sticking with carrots, spices, cream cheese frosting, and cake. 

I began my testing process with my go-to vanilla cake:

1 3/4 c sugar

2 1/2 c flour

1 1/2 tsp each: salt, baking powder, baking soda

2 large eggs

1 c buttermilk

1/2 c oil

1 tb vanilla

3/4 c water

Combine dry, combine wet, combine em all, bake. 

Then I added spices: a few teaspoons of cinnamon and hawaij for coffee, the yemeni spice mix that’s a blend of all of my favorite sweeter spices, like nutmeg and cardamom, which I thought would go perfectly with carrots and...

Brown sugar: I subbed 1 c of the sugar for brown sugar because a defining feature of carrot cake is that darker, molasses-y flavor. 

And of course carrots: when carrots are added, you’re essentially adding a ton of water, so the water and milk in my recipe went goodbye. The new recipe looked like this:

1 c brown sugar

3/4 c sugar

2 1/2 c flour

1 1/2 tsp each: salt, baking powder, baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp hawaij

2 large eggs

1/2 c oil

1 tb vanilla

2 c shredded carrots

Before I went ahead and tested this, I read about a thousand more carrot cake recipes, and found that, a) most of them had at least double the eggs and oil as my recipe, and b) a lot of them required a method where you cream the eggs and sugar first until they’re fluffy and then drizzle in the fat. In other words, one more step and another dirty stand mixer bowl. Allison’s recipe however required beating together the carrots and sugar first. And then a few of the recipes required oil and sugar first, and then adding the eggs one at a time. I wanted to know what the difference was between each of these methods. 

So I started an internet thread about it and got some great answers from Stella, Allison, Ali, and a whole bunch of other kind people. Here was a selection of the findings:

-Beating eggs + sugar first helps aerate the cake, giving slightly more lift and offsetting the denseness of the sugar 

-Beating carrots + sugar first helps release all of the moisture from the carrots

-More eggs are required for the structure and to help the leavening work, and more oil is required to keep it moist and not eggy (I think I still have some questions about this…)

So here were the new measurements:

1 c brown sugar

3/4 c sugar

2 1/2 c flour

1 1/2 tsp each: salt, baking powder, baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp hawaij

4 large eggs

1 1/2 c oil

1 tb vanilla

2 c shredded carrots

I went ahead and tested the four different methods that I was wondering about and did side-by-side comparisons. Here they are along with their notes:

A: mixing dry, mixing wet, folding in the carrots [the laziest way]

-batter is thick, dark, and chunky and not well combined, kind of oily, almost like a brownie batter

-cake is dense and good! has a great caramelized crust. center is slightly oily.

-baked for about 33 minutes

B: whisking sugar and oil first by hand, whisking in eggs on at a time, folding in dry ingredients and carrots [slightly less lazy, but still doesn't use a stand mixer]

-nice batter that held its shit together. smooth and dark.

-cake is dense and GOOD

-baked for about 33 minutes

C: beating sugar and eggs until pale and fluffy in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, then drizzling in fat, adding dry, folding in carrots [The Stella Method]

-batter is very light, more yellow, and fluffy, so satisfying to beat the eggs

-it rose WAY more, layer is about 1/2” taller than A and B, smooth on top

-needed about 38 minutes in the oven, longer than A and B

-cake was fluffy, less moist than A and B

D: beating carrots, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer with a paddle until sandy, combining eggs and oil and then adding those, adding dry [The Allison Method]

-batter was golden color (between A/B and C), way more liquidy and bubbly

-cake domed nicely, the smoothest top out of the four

-cake was fluffy, less moist than A and B

(left to right: the batters and layers of a, b, c, d. sorry these aren't the best photos, a and b were sitting upside down on the wire rack for a little bit before i took the pictures which is why they have all of those little lines in them.)

(left to right: a, b, c, d)

It was so fascinating to see one set of identical ingredients, all mixed up with different methods. They were all great! With methods C and D, the ingredient list would have to adjust to lean heavier on the fat (and maybe sugar?) to provide slightly more moisture. But in general my cake preference is usually on the denser side, so I chose to fly with method B, excited with the added bonus that it doesn’t require a stand mixer. 

Then I tested something that caught my eye in Stella’s recipe, browned butter! I am fairly new to brown butter but it seems like everyone flips out about it. I used method B. Here were my notes:

-batter looks pretty much the same as B

-brown butter flavor definitely present in cake

-texture very similar to B, slightly grainy, which was good, slightly more structural integrity, also good

-I don’t know that I necessary like brown butter flavor…. am I a monster if I don’t like browned butter?

I’m still going back and forth about whether or not I like brown butter. I really feel like a monster about this. The cake made with brown butter tastes exactly like a brown butter cake with spices, so if you know that you love brown butter, this is the option for you. I’ve included both options in the recipe below. 

Brown butter or not, I am very happy with this cake. It is dense, moist, and fit for my pops' 60th birthday!

Ok, let's now move on to the frosting. Do you know BJ’s story about carrot cake? And you've already read Allison's frosting non-negotiables right? So carrot cake has to have the best frosting and it has to be cream cheese frosting, we’re all on the same page about that. 

I wasn’t going to fuck around with the frosting too much until halfway through my research when I found the halva caramel cream cheese frosting in Soframiz, and girl, it kept me up at night. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’ve always flipped past cakes that have caramel in the frosting because the thought of cleaning caramel out of a pot stresses me out and I honestly don’t love caramel. But obviously if you add tahini to anything I am sold. So I gave it a shot, using the caramel that Maya and I made for our molten halva lava cakes, and it turns out that such a small quantity of caramel only takes a few quick minutes to make and is actually really satisfying. The caramel mixed with the cream cheese and butter makes for a frosting that is nutty, not too sweet, full of flavor, and an important part of a really nice civilized slice of carrot cake. 

And the addition of tahini all makes sense because carrots go with cinnamon, cinnamon goes with hawaij, cinnamon goes with tahini, tahini goes with caramel, carrots go with tahini, etc., etc., guilty by association, there is a great flavor party happening in this cake. 

Ok I’m done talking about carrot cake for now. 

Oh pistachios! I added them because I like them. And sesame seeds are there because that’s what Soframiz does and I like that there is some sesame continuity now with the frosting. And marzipan carrots are my non-negotiable. 

Ok I’m really done now. 

Happy birthday to me and to my pops! I am spending the day decorating cake and making hotdish and recovering from a weekend of piñata making, taco eating, and rhombus brewery shutting downing!

K bye!

carrot cake with hawaij and tahini caramel frosting

makes two 8" one-layer cakes (pictured) or one 8" two-layer cake


for the cake:

2 1/2 c (340g) all-purpose flour 

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda 

2 tsp cinnamon 

1 tsp hawaij (or sub 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp cardamom, and a pinch each of nutmeg and cloves)

1 c (166g) c brown sugar 

3/4 c (154g) c granulated sugar

1 1/2 c (320g) oil (to sub browned butter, brown 400g butter using stella’s directions and cool

4 large eggs 

1 tb vanilla bean paste or extract

2 c (200g) freshly shredded carrots 

Optional: 2 tb toasted sesame seeds and/or 90g chopped roasted pistachios

for the frosting:

6 tb (76g) granulated sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tb water

1/4 c (63g) heavy cream

1/2 c (114g) unsalted butter, softened and divided

3 tb (48g) tahini

8 oz (226g) cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

to assemble:

Shaved carrot flowers

Marzipan kneaded with orange and green food coloring and shaped into flowers


Sesame seeds


Birthday candles


for the cake:

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line two 8” cake pans with parchment and set aside.

in a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and hawaij and set aside. in a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and granulated sugar with the oil. whisk in each of the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. whisk in the vanilla extract.

using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until about 90% incorporated. add the carrots, sesame seeds and pistachios (if using), and mix to incorporate (and by this time all of the flour mixture should be incorporated as well).

pour the batter into cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

cool for 10 minutes in the pans and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

for the frosting:

first make the tahini caramel: place the sugar and 1/8 tsp salt in a saucepan. stir in the water and cook over high heat until it starts to bubble. stop stirring and continue cooking for 2-4 minutes until it turns a medium amber color. reduce heat to low and carefully drizzle in the cream while stirring (it will bubble up quickly and make a weird sucking sound, don’t be alarmed). continue to stir until the mixture smooths out. add half of the butter (1/4 c), cube by cube, stirring, until mixture is thick and homogeneous.

remove from the heat and stir in the tahini. let cool and refrigerate until ready to use. this can be made a day in advance. 

To make the frosting, combine the caramel, remaining 1/4 c butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and remaining 1/8 tsp salt in a stand mixer and mix with a paddle attachment until smooth. 

to assemble:

frost each cake liberally with frosting and decorate as desired! or, stack the two cakes for the two-layer version. 



red velvet cake

I rang in my birthday dancing to techno with a gaggle of new girlfriends in the great big shed at the Ballymaloe Litfest. I wore my favorite pastel horsey romper and smelled faintly of Francis Mallman's fire. We laughed, we screamed, we sang. It was nothing like what I'd planned, which was to take a midnight moment by myself in the Castylmartyr gardens with Mahler's Adagietto and layers of fleece and reflection, and then to wake up for an early morning stroll by the ponies and a civilized breakfast on hotel china. Lol. Even though what actually went down on Saturday night came with a gnarly hangover, it was without a doubt one of the best ways I've ever rang in a birthday. I highly recommend it. 

On my birthday I had about six nespressos, a rasher and egg sandwich that was covered in the most beautiful coating of grease, a bite of an apple scone made by Claire, labneh and carrots in the rain, and a cone of pork fat fries covered in rosé vinegar and vodka ketchup. And seaweed! And a Sunday roast with Imen and a side of giggles.

Then there was more techno, like *so much* techno, techno that made me love techno. I slept in all of my clothes and woke up to begin my long journey home, which is where we're at right now (hi from the Minneapolis airport!).

So in other words, this birthday was a very solid 12 out of 10 and I will remember it forever and ever. It included three birthday cakes! (And if Eggboy pulls through with his mission to bake me a yellow cake, it'll be four!) There was a cashel blue cheese cake from sweet Clodagh in a little house by the sea, a fimo clay sprinkle cake from jewhungry, and this red velvet cake that I made before I left. I'm going to tell you more about my Ireland trip very soon! But for now let's focus on cake...

question: what's better than a red velvet cake?

answer: a red velvet cake made with coconut oil!

question: what's better than a red velvet cake made with coconut oil?

answer: a red velvet cake made with coconut oil and topped with a marzipan crown 👑 👑 👑 👑 👑 !!

tbh this is a very standard red velvet situation. the only difference between this and other red velvet cakes is that i used coconut oil instead of butter, which when you use unrefined coconut oil, you get a nice hint of coconut flavor tossed into the mix. a great thing! i went with red velvet for my birthday this year as a nod to my birthday cakes of yore, which were bright red, covered in pistachios, and from buca di beppo. i'd have a big slice on my birthday and then smaller slices for breakfast every morning for the rest of the week. this recipe makes a baby 6" cake but if you'd like a larger one, double it and bake it in two 8" pans. yay, happy birthday to me (and my pops)!!! 

red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting

makes one 6" cake



1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tb unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c coconut oil (unrefined for a hint of coconut flavor, refined for no coconut flavor)
1 c sugar
1 large egg
1 tb red food coloring
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
1/2 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup buttermilk


4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
1/8 tsp kosher salt




to make the cake:

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease two 6" round cake pans and set them aside.

in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the coconut oil and sugar until pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. add the egg and mix to combine. mix in the food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar. add the dry ingredients and buttermilk in 2-3 alternating additions and beat until just combined. divide the batter between the cake pans, spreading it out evenly, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes. using a rubber spatula, gently press down the top of the cakes to even them out while they're still hot (this way you won't need to level them). let cool for 10 minutes in their pans and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

to make the frosting:

cream together the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer until combined. mix in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. 

to assemble:

stack up the cooled cake layers with a thick layer of frosting in between. frost all over. top with a marzipan crown, if desired.


marzipan marzipan blueberry cake

because it's my birthday.


i bought myself these gifts: health insurance, a set of fringe & fettle bowls, and chickens (they will arrive mid-june!)

i am celebrating in this way: in bismarck, for my friend jean's wedding tomorrow! i plan to get a pedicure and help make cookies for jean's rehearsal dinner and drink and hang out with eggboy. 

i will eat: a greasy breakfast sandwich*, cheese fries*, friday pizza, and this marzipan marzipan cake.

i will drink: anything that is placed in front of me. it might have rhubarb simple syrup in it because i brought my own with me to bismarck.

i will listen to: mahler 5*

i will not: use the internet (too much).

*per tradition

last year i got the tastiest cake in the mail. it was so dense and almondy, i just wanted to lie in a bed of it. it was not too sweet and a perfect cake for the mail because it didn't require any frosting and it's one of those that gets better with age. (can i be one of those??? or do we even talk about age on our birthdays anymore? just cake? you're right, just cake.) it was so delicious and unique that it might have been one of the best cakes i've ever had. so this week, i tracked down the recipe, in amanda hesser's book cooking for mr. latteand, well, covered it in marzipan. because that seemed like the correct thing to do during my birthday week. i also halved it to make it a mini 6-inch situation and added some blueberry jam because st. dalfour's wild blueberry jam is having a moment in my life right now. also almonds + blueberries = a very good thing.

marzipan marzipan blueberry cake

makes one 2-layer 6-inch cake

cake adapted from amanda hesser's almond cake



1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 c unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 c sugar

3.5 oz almond paste, cut into small pieces

2 large egg yolks

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 c all-purpose flour


about 1/2 c blueberry jam

about 10 oz marzipan

gel or liquid food coloring




preheat oven to 350 f. grease two 6-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment.

mix together the sour cream and baking soda and set it aside.

in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. add the almond paste and beat at medium speed for 5 minutes. add the egg yolks one at a time and mix until incorporated. blend in the almond extract, the sour cream mixture, and the salt. reduce mixer to low and gradually add the flour until just combined.

divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly. bake for about 30 minutes, until the tops are browned and the edges shrink from the sides of the pan. the centers of the cakes will likely cave in a bit once they come out of the oven but that's ok. let the cakes cool for a few minutes in their pans and then turn onto a wire rack to cool fully. you can wrap these in plastic wrap and keep them at room temperature for about a week or so. 


level the tops of the cakes, if needed. spread a thick layer of jam on one layer and then place the other layer on top. spread a thin layer of jam all over the entire cake. 

roll your marzipan out on a piece of parchment paper into a large circle, about 1/4 inch thick. use the parchment to help get the marzipan sheet over the cake. smooth the marzipan down over the cake and trim the edges. knead food coloring into any excess marzipan and use it for decorations. stick on your decorations, complete the look with sprinkles!


pictured: cake stand // cake server // rolling pin