rhubarb almond layer cake
Hello friends! If you're a regular around here, you may have noticed some updates to this space! (It truly looks its best on a computer screen so if you have time please view it there!). I am so happy with how it came out. I love dabbling in a little bit of design here and there, although it always makes me realize that it's probably a good thing that I didn't make a career out of it....it's tough!! And the sweet hand drawn graphics that you'll see pop up as you poke around were done by one of my dearest friends Clara from Clara Cecilia Photography! She is an Edmonton photographer, dabbles in design on the side, and is such an incredible artist in whatever medium she chooses.
Anyway, we're talking about my new favourite cake today! It's a fluffy white cake with hints of almond, paired with a dreamy, more tart than sweet, silky rhubarb swiss meringue butter cream. I photographed this in our apple orchard during peak apple blossom time, and it was so magical!
One of my favourite tips for assembling layer cakes is to do it over a couple of days (or longer!). I like to bake my cake layers, let them cool, level them, and freeze them until I'm ready to use them. They taste just as good as fresh, and are so easy to handle once they're frozen. I'll then make the frosting either the day before, or the same day I want the cake. Both work well! This swiss meringue butter cream keeps well in the freezer, and I would suggest letting it thaw in your fridge, and then on the counter to bring it to room temperature for spreading. You might need to whip it a bit with your mixer to get it nice and smooth again, but it is so nice to make it ahead of time! I also will assemble the entire cake, and stick it back in the freezer to set until the icing is firm to the touch if I'm having to transport the cake somewhere! Serious lifesaver.
And once you're done serving, definitely put the leftovers in the freezer to keep them fresh while you eat it over the next few weeks (and don't forget to pre-cut all the pieces first!). Basically, my freezer is my best friend when it comes to making life a little easier around here.
fluffy white almond cake with rhubarb swiss meringue butter cream
cake & frosting recipe: slightly adapted from Tessa - Style Sweet CA
yields: three 6-inch cake layers
5 large eggs whites
2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup whole milk - divided
2 1/2 cups cake flour (*this is a must - don't sub all-purpose flour here!)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 6-inch cake pans and set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the egg whites, almond extract, and 1/4 cup of the milk, and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix on low until combined. Add in the softened butter and 1/2 cup of milk, and mix on low until just moistened. Turn the mixer to medium-high and mix until completely combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
With your mixer on medium-low, slowly stream in the egg white mixture. Add it in 3 batches, and each addition should take about 15 seconds to pour in each time. Ensure everything is completely incorporated before adding the next batch, but try not to over-mix since it can make the cake dry.
Distribute the batter between the prepared pans. I use a kitchen scale to make sure an even amount is in each one. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. I like to carefully rotated my pans a couple times while cooking to ensure even heating.
Allow cakes to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from pans. Let cool for another 20 minutes, and then use a large serrated knife to carefully level each one.
Cool cakes completely before frosting. I like to make the cake the day before, and wrap each layer in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge or freezer. Cool cake layers are easier to handle, and means less crumbs in your icing.
Once cakes are cool and level, place the first layer cut side down onto your cake plate (reduces the amount of crumbs). Spread the frosting of your choice in an even layer (recipe for Rhubarb Swiss Meringue Butter Cream is below), coming up slightly along the edge of the cake layer. Spread a layer of rhubarb compote on top of butter cream. Repeat for the next layer. Frost cake to your heart's desire. I used a cake scraper (also called icing smoother) to smooth out my frosting. Or you can keep it more rustic and swirly, and have a thicker layer of frosting.
Store leftover cake in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container.
*Tips: I like to use a small cookie scoop to ensure an even amount of frosting goes between each layer. For this cake I used 3 scoops of frosting between each layer, and the rest of the frosting went on the outside of the cake.
*If you choose a smooth finish, you may have frosting leftover. Keep in an airtight container the freezer until you need it.
*I like to lay down plastic wrap wherever the flowers will go, and wrap the ends of each flower with floral tape, and then use floral wire to stick into the cake. If that makes you nervous, simply make sure you use edible flowers on top, or pipe your own out of frosting! Sprinkles or berries are other good options.
rhubarb swiss meringue butter cream
1/2 cup egg whites (3 to 4 large egg whites)
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup rhubarb compote
Place the egg whites and sugar into a double boiler (this could be a metal bowl on top of a saucepan of simmering water), and whisk together continuously to keep egg whites from cooking. Keep stirring the mixture occasionally, and cook until the sugar is totally dissolved, and the temperature hits 140F.
Remove from heat, and mix in the salt and vanilla. Beat the mixture on high with a whisk attachment for about 8 minutes to make the meringue. You want the mixture to be room temperature, and hold medium-stiff, shiny peaks.
Switch to regular beaters/paddle attachment, and slowly add in cubes of butter. Mix well after each addition. If your icing starts to look soupy or like it's curdling, just place it in the fridge for 10 minutes and try mixing again. Repeat if necessary. Sometimes the butter is too warm compared to the meringue and it separates.
Stir in rhubarb compote 1/4 cup at a time, watching carefully for curdling or separation. I added 3/4 cup into mine since I wanted a strong rhubarb flavour, but if your compote is too runny, the juices may cause the butter cream to separate and it may not be reparable.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge if you're not using it right away! Let it sit on the counter to soften up before icing a cake with it. Enjoy
3 cups cubed rhubarb
3/4 cup sugar*
1 teaspoon vanilla
*amount of sugar is highly subjective to your personal taste and your rhubarb. I always prefer my rhubarb compote to be a bit tart, especially when paired with cake. Taste and adjust yours as you see fit! It's much easier to add more sugar, than to add too much and have it too sweet.
In a large saucepan, combine cubed rhubarb and sugar. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Allow to cook for 7-10 minutes until rhubarb softens and a thick mixture forms. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in vanilla, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Tip: I love using this compote in my overnight oats, on waffles, or on ice cream!
Happy cake making!