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.
What a fantastic cake and it’s quite pretty, too! I love rhubarb and strawberries together.
It looks amazing! The finish on the frosting is just perfection. You could serve that as your wedding cake when the sparkles eventually turn up on your finger!
Yummy… it is very attractive and hope it tastes the same, I wish if I could have this for my birthday.
Another absolutely gorgeous cake. You rock at this.
Absolute beautiful. Looks like it could just sit in the window of a fabulous bakery!
Look amazing Joanne and beat is delicious and now hope you can have a nice and relax weekend with the boy:))
This is gorgeous.
Oh, grad student conferences. The awkwardness knows no bounds. I love it!
the cake looks beautiful and the bus ride sounds like hell but how did the meeting of two families go? is the course of true love running smoothly?
Seriously. As fabulous as New York sounds, I can not even imagine surviving traffic like that. I would die.
This cake is perfection! I’ve only had rhubarb in pie. Must change that!
This is HEAVENLY, Joanne. Really beautiful and elegant!
Oh gosh, look at the ingredients in that filling is making me want to go make this RIGHT NOW. And to boot, this cake is gorgeous! 🙂
Can you please cut me a HUGE slice of this!
Oh Joanne I love this cake- you did a great job with the whole meeting of the parents thing – so sweet !
Ahhhh the cake is sooooo pretty!!!
Heavenly deliciousness. Woohoo! Hell ya let’s celebrate.
G’day Joanne! Love your cake and recipe, true!
Love the clarity in your photos, especially the strawberries too!
This cake is so freakin gorgeous I can’t even take it!
dare I say you’ve outdone yourself… again! So beautiful.
For a second I thought it read that YOU made a stop at McDonald’s and I was like “wait…what?” Still need to wake up. And dare I say how freaking stupid gorgeous this cake is? What families wouldn’t fall in love with each other when under its spell?
Oh, WOW. This cake is simply gorgeous – piled high with berries and studded with rhubarb (genius!), I am not surprised it impressed! You have some mad baking a decorating skills, Joanne. “Dream cake” is right.
Glad you enjoyed Ithaca, although I agree with you on the small part (especially compared to NYC). I’ll be you were happy to get home! 🙂
What a gorgeous cake, Joanne! I’m sure the families loved it and I’m surprised that there were leftovers to come home to. Have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary
I’m loving all of the strawberries I’m seeing today. This is an amazing cake, Joanne!
Giiiiirrrrl please! This looks amazing. Will this still be good by Sunday?!?! haha! Also, SO EXCITED!!
There is truly nothing more torturous than being stuck on a bus on the turnpike. I’ve been there girl, I felt your pain.
I’m guessing the meeting of the parents went well!? This cake looks incredible!
Such a gorgeous cake!
what a fabulous cake!! great job, joanne!
beautiful cake 🙂
This is the stuff that MY dreams are made of!! This is a stunning cake chock full of some of my favorite ingredients. Beautiful job, Joanne!!
Would you believe I’ve never baked with rhubarb? I know! What is wrong with me? This is such a stunning cake, Joanne. I could go for a slice for breakfast #2!
Wow that sounds like traffic hell. But the cake looks absolutely heavenly! The way the pistachios spiral up like a staircase winding inside a lighthouse is very appealing.
omg, this looks absolutely gorgeous!!! pinning for later 😉 how did the visit go with ur families?
Well I guess it’s a good thing the driver stopped for his burger – 3 hours is a long time to go when you’re hungry 😉
I seriously love that cake. So beautiful! You must be thrilled to be home – have a great weekend!
So pretty…love the green from the pistachios…
What a pretty cake! I can go for a big slice right about now. Have a great weekend Joanne!
This is the perfect secret weapon for a meet the parents weekend! Dang i wish i had thought of that back in the day 😉 Enjoy your weekend!
Stunning! You have so much talent 🙂
This cake is STUNNING, Joanne! Seriously, mouth agape over here. Also because I’m waiting for it to magically come through the screen and go down my gullet. 🙂
Dream cake is right my friend, please become a professional, the world needs your incredible talent 😀
I think I would have got out of that bus and hitch-hiked. How infuriating. I would have been seething. At that end of the conference, all you want to do is get home. Your cake is stunning and you have iced it so smoothly! I do love a meringue icing xx
GORGEOUS! This cake looks so delicious!
Your cake is gorgeous! That bus ride sounds like a long, long trip. Are the boy’s parents ready to come over every weekend after tasting your delicious food? 🙂 Have a great weekend!
I love Dream Cake yours looks out of this world! Yum, yum, yum!!!
This cake is SO gorgeous!!! I think I saw the pic on facebook and couldn’t wait for the post. Love how it’s asymmetrical unlike most cakes. Really really beautiful. I can only assume it tasted as good as it looked 🙂
This is BEAUTIFUL!! And so perfect for introducing your families to each other!
You amaze me. What a stunning cake with so many wonderful flavors and textures. I love how creative you are.
Sorry for the terrible bus ride home but at least you made friends! 🙂
*wipes drool off screen*. The pistachios look amazing on the cake 🙂
Beautiful summer cake, Joanne. Not only the great flavors, but your presentation is fabulous. Love the pistachios on there..perfect with the strawberries.
Dream indeed, Joanne. Your whole blog and this post are a dream. Beautiful work, I can only imagine the effort that goes into this, although you probably make it seem pretty easy. This looks incredible.
At least you got to bond with your colleagues!
I remember going on a trip with my school band (my one and only one because of the horrid experience) and our rest stops were always near the generic gas station/fast food places. I was lucky if there was a Subway around :P!
I am liking Feedly as well. I would have lost my mind stuck in a tunnel, it would not have been pretty, unlike this cake! I could eat a piece of this for breakfast right now!
What a beautiful cake, I love how you’ve decorated it.
What a beautiful summer cake,Joanne!Great job!
Now this is what I call a show stopper of a cake!
This cake not only sounds delicious looks so pretty…indeed a dream cake 🙂
I like the idea of the rhubarb on the cake batter and filled with lots of strawberry…yum!
Hope you are having a great weekend Joanne!
You’re not kidding about that cake- It really does look like a sweet dream come true! It’s so beautiful, and in an elegant, refined way. Truly perfect for any sort of celebration.
Gorgeous cake! I love the addition of rhubarb!
That cake is just too pretty for words! Maybe your parents would expect nothing less, but I bet you impressed the pants off your future in-laws. Oops, did I just imply something there? 😉
WELL DONE JOANNE, seriously, that is a beautiful effort. Your icing is so smooth! This cake caught my eye on Pinterest but I haven’t had the time/cojones to make it. Very impressed.
This cake is really something special! So beauitful! I just wish I could see the inside. I bet it’s gorgeous too.
What a gorgeous cake. I bet the families loved it… and you!
I hate being stuck in traffic!! 🙁 I remember when I used to get driven to school, which was about half an hour away, there’d always be a traffic jam half way there, and there was a kid who lived there so every morning I’d watch him walk pretty much three times the speed our car was travelling at because we were stuck in traffic *sigh* Your cake looks amazing!! Love the combination of strawberry and rhubarb!
I’m coming over , ASAP !
Wow, what a delicious homecoming cake! Welcome back. I need this cake
Oh My! This looks heavenly!!!!
It does look like a dream of a cake! The strawberry mascarpone filling sounds delightful. I need to make this!
What a beautiful cake! The bright red of the strawberry and the green of the nuts decorating the cake are eye catching. The flavors are fresh and light and summery!
Yes, this would make a great July 4th celebration cake. I had a look at your recipe index and your list of recipes is quite impressive- looks like you’ve been blogging for 10 years but I see you’ve been going for 4 – 5 years. Congratulations!
That is the most gorgeous cake I’ve set eyes on in a long time! It sounds just as delectable as it looks! I’m glad you made it home safe and sound!
Wow! What an ordeal! I’ve had many long car rides like that… and you really do consider walking.
I know what I’ll be dreaming about tonight!
Whew! That is one gorgeous cake, girl!
So gorgeous! WHat is it that you can’t do? This looks so professional. Skip med school and open your own NYC bakery. 🙂
Happy homecoming! This looks gorgeous! I must admit, traffic is one of the main reasons I live out in the country! I can’t deal with it! (I’m not sure if i’ve ever mentioned this to you, but I lived in nyc for a year and a half back in 2004-05) I went to the Aveda Institute in Soho. Many years later I traded in my beauty school smock for Carhartt overalls!
That is one gorgeous cake – i am sure it impressed and wowed everyone!!
Holly molly, what a cake. Dream cake is correct. I wish I could dig in 🙂 I need to make some sort of nice looking cake soon. Perhaps for my bday coming soon!!
This cake is a beauty. Seriously stunning.
That cake looks soooo good!
What a stunning cake! I love the combination of flavors and your frosting skills are superb. It looks beyond anything I’ve ordered in a bakery. Sorry about the long ride home. What a pain. Traffic bites. Trust me. I live and drive around LA everyday. Nothing more mind numbing and frustrating than bad traffic…especially when you get close but just can’t quite get to where you are going. Hope the family meet-up went well. How could it not with that cake?!
Yep, that’s a Dream Cake. The pistachios are a great texture addition, too. Your cake decorating skills are getting better and better. Go, girl!
This is so stunning! Oh my goodness!
I would be totally happy stuffing my face with a big slice of this pumpkin cake – it looks beautiful!
i’ve seen strawberry-rhubarb everything…except cake. thanks for fixing that. 🙂
Gorgeous cake! Can you decorate a cake for me so I can give it to the boyfriend’s mom and get MAJOR brownie points? 🙂
This cake is gorgeous! I hope the meeting went well 🙂
I am so pathetically behind in commenting here (as well as everywhere else!) but scrolling through the recipes I’ve missed I stopped dead in my tracks here. Holy delicious rhubarb, this looks wonderful. Pinning it immediately to my new rhubarb board!
Joanne, how lovely!! I also JUST finished a 10+ hour road trip from Ko Samui to Bangkok, and after a day of gas-station snacking I’d have given anything to be greeted by this cake waiting at my destination!
Oh this cake is so lovely! You did an amazing job with it and the flavors are perfect 🙂
I very much want this cake. Like, now.
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This cake not only sounds delicious looks so pretty…indeed a dream cake ?
I like the idea of the rhubarb on the cake batter and filled with lots of strawberry…yum!
Hope you are having a great weekend Joanne!
I made this for the bottom tier (14 inch) of a three tiered wedding cake. It was super delicious and held up well for a summer wedding. The whipped cream/strawberry filling was very stable. Not a crumb was leftover!