Before we get into the real meat tofu and potatoes cake and buttercream of this post I just want to remind everyone that Google Reader is DISAPPEARING next week. Scary stuff if you follow five million blogs like I do. Thankfully, there are alternatives such as Feedly or Bloglovin (I’m a Feedly gal). Or…if you REALLY can’t stand the thought of missing an Eats Well With Others post, you could always subscribe to my feed via email and get my posts sent straight to your inbox every day!
I arrived home last night on a wing and a prayer, after six hours of highway and one totally superfluous McDonald’s stop about an hour and a half before we would have arrived home because a certain bus driver couldn’t live another 76 miles without a burger and fries even though we pretty much begged him to push through! Keep going! Forge ahead! Almost there!
Needless to say that twenty minute stop put us on the New Jersey Turnpike smack dab in the middle of rush hour. And that hour and a half we had left to go…well it quickly turned into three.
I won’t tell you how long we spent inside the tunnel itself, but it was the longest 1.5 miles of my life. And, not to brag or anything, I could have run/walked/or crawled it faster (and was quite tempted to).
Overall, the bus ride was by far the worst part of the whole conference experience. Ithaca, though very very very much smaller than any place I would ever care to live, was not so bad. And even though I can’t say that I really got anything out of any of the talks since they were pretty far afield from anything I specifically do research on…I did *gasp* make friends with my fellow grad students. So I suppose in some ways it was worth it.
Let’s celebrate my homecoming with cake, shall we?
This is actually the cake I served to the boys’ and my families when they met last weekend.
Because really…does anything bring people together more than a crazy fluffy vanilla cake dotted with sour specks of rhubarb, filled with strawberry mascarpone-whipped cream, and topped with a hefty layer of swiss meringue buttercream? I can’t imagine so.
It is really the perfect summer celebration cake. And if you throw some blueberries into the mix, I daresay it would be a lovely shade of red, white and blue…which would be just ideal for a certain upcoming patriotic extravaganza. Hint, hint.
One year ago…Spanish White Bean Tortilla with Piri Piri Sauce
Two years ago…Black Bean and Plantain Burgers with Honey Lime Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries
Three years ago…Cranberry Ginger Bars
Four years ago…Blueberry Banana Muffins
Strawberry-Rhubarb Dream Cake
Makes 1 (8-inch) round layer cake, adapted from Bake It Like You Mean It
For the cake:
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 5 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
- 3 cups (375 g) all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 2 cups (240 g) diced rhubarb
For the filling:
- 3 pints (750 g) fresh strawberries, 10 perfect berries set aside, the remainder hulled and halved
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 1/4 cup (25 g) confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
For the buttercream:
- 6 egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 lb unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, slightly cooler than room temperature
- 1 cup pistachios
- For the cake, preheat the oven to 350. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with baking spray and line with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes on medium-high. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating thoroughly and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla bean paste.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low, add a third of the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. Add in half of the buttermilk. Repeat with the second third of the flour and the remaining buttermilk. Add in the remaining flour and still until just incorporated. Fold in the rhubarb.
- Divide the batter among the three pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted comes back clean. Set aside to cool.
- For the filling, stir together the halved strawberries, lemon zest, and sugar in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the heavy cream, mascarpone, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla bean paste until they form stiff peaks.
- Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Brush an even layer of the strawberry juice from the bottom of the bowl of strawberries onto the first layer. Place an even layer of strawberry halves, cut side down, onto the cake. spread half the cream on top of the strawberries. Freeze for 15 minutes to set.
- Put the second layer of cake on top of the first and press gently to stick. Brush evenly with the strawberry juice and the layer of strawberries. Spread the remaining filling over the top. Freeze for 15 minutes to set.
- Place the last layer of cake over the filling and press gently to set. Using a large offset spatula, remove any filling that has oozed from the layers. Line the outside of the cake with parchment to stabilize it, using two pieces and taping them together to make a tight fit. Freeze overnight or for 3-4 hours.
- For the buttercream, put the egg whites and vanilla bean paste in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- In a large saucepan, combine the granulated sugar with 1 cup of water. Stir constantly over medium heat until the sugar has melted. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. As the temperature of the syrup reaches 225F, start whisking the egg whites so that they start to get foamy. Continue heating the syrup until it reaches 240F.
- Slowly pour the syrup down the side of the stand mixer bowl, into the egg whites with the mixer on medium-low. Increase the speed to high and whip until the egg whites form stiff peaks and the bowl is cool to the touch.
- With the mixer on medium, add the butter one tbsp at a time. Whisk until mixer is smooth and creamy.
- Coat the cake with the buttercream and, if frozen, allow to defrost in the fridge for 2 hours. Garnish with reserved whole strawberries and pistachios.