Summer is almost upon us and I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the fruits of the season than with rhubarb. A favourite since childhood, eaten mostly now at breakfast time with buttery toast, or simply raw, dipped in sugar. Tart, sweet and yummy. Then I saw this beautiful recipe from Not Without Salt and I just knew had to add it to my repertoire. Combining other notably ingredients, such as almonds and cream cheese, it is sure to be a favourite, not just for myself, but for my dinner guests this summer. Recipe below.
Ingredients for the cake ::
* 2 cups almonds
* 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 6 eggs
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1 tablespoon lemon zest
* 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, melted
* 1/2 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line three 8 inch cake pans with butter or pan spray and parchment paper. But the parchment paper.
Toast the almonds in a 350° oven until their toasty fragrance fills your kitchen and they turn deeply golden, about 10-15 minutes. Let the almonds cool completely. In the bowl of a food processor add the almonds, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Process until the almonds are completely pulverized. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then process again. The finer the crumb of the almond the finer the texture of the cake will be. Don’t worry about it being perfectly fine.
In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs, lemon zest, almond extract, vanilla extract, melted butter, and olive oil. Carefully pour the wet ingredients into the food processor. Process until a smooth batter forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then process again.
Divide the batter between the three cake pans. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until the top feels springy when touched.
Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from the pans and cooling on a rack completely. Make the stewed rhubarb while the cakes bake.
Stewed Rhubarb ::
* 1 1/2 pound rhubarb, ends trimmed and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces (you’ll need a total of 2 pounds for the whole cake recipe)
* 3/4 cup sugar
* Juice from half a lemon
Add the rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice to a small saucepan set over medium low heat. Cook gently until the rhubarb just starts to fall apart. Carefully transfer the rhubarb to a bowl and let cool completely.
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting ::
* 2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
* 2 sticks butter, room temperature
* 3 – 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat together until creamy and well combined. Sift the powdered sugar then add that to the bowl. Add the salt and vanilla extract before beating everything together. Start the machine slowly then, when all the sugar has been mixed in, increase the speed and beat on medium high for 3 to 5 minutes until fluffy and light. Scrape down the bowl then beat again, briefly until well mixed.
Rhubarb Roses ::
* 1/2 pound rhubarb stalks, ends trimmed
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 cup water
Use a vegetable peeler to peel the rhubarb into strips. The harder you press on the peeler the thicker the strips will be. You’re looking for about 1/8-inch thickness. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Carefully add the rhubarb strips to the pan, just a few at a time, and gently poach for about 30 seconds. The strips should be malleable and be able to bend without breaking. Lay the rhubarb strips on paper towels. To form the roses gently roll them up in a tight coil. Alternate the size of the roses by cutting down some of the rhubarb strips. Replace the roses to the paper towels until ready to use. Reserve the rhubarb simple syrup and the rest of the stewed rhubarb.
Assemble the cake ::
Brush each of the cake layers with a bit of the reserved rhubarb syrup from the rhubarb rose making. Then add a thin layer of cream cheese frosting followed by about 1/3 cup of the rhubarb filling. It’ll be soft and juicy and probably run out of the cake a bit but as the cake sits the cake will soak it up.
Repeat with the second cake layer then finish with the final layer. Add about 1 1/2 cups of the frosting to the top of the cake. Frost the cake to your desire, although suggest a nice thick layer of frosting on the top. Chose either to leave the edges of the cake exposed or frost it completely if you prefer.
Serve the slices with the remaining stewed rhubarb and whipped cream, if any is left.
Editor’s tip: This cake is best the day after it’s baked. You can frost and decorate on the day you plan to serve it if you’d like and bake the cake layers up to two days before. Just be sure to wrap them well.
Images and recipe: Not Without Salt