One of spring’s beloved combinations is strawberries and rhubarb. Both are highlighted in this gorgeous, delicious Strawberry Rhubarb Layer Cake.
Welcome to my childhood. No, no, not the Strawberry Rhubarb Layer Cake; just the rhubarb part.
Any mention of rhubarb immediately whisks me back to the old Tudor sitting on a quiet street in Wheaton. I have visions of four wild children playing in the yard, trampling through my mom’s flowers and giving wide berth to Dad’s tomatoes.
My mind can also see a plant growing in the very back, tucked away under the wild lilac hedge. Huge, dark green leaves do a good job of hiding the bright red stalks supporting them, but it’s not enough.
We’ve been watching that patch ever since the weather warmed up and first sprouts peeked their heads above ground. As soon as it’s big enough to do so, we’re pulling it out of the ground, tearing off the top leaf and munching on tart, tangy rhubarb.
That’s what summer’s all about.
I so badly wanted to review this earlier than now, but I had a dickens of a time finding rhubarb. Not only is it still a little early to find it around here, but many people don’t know what it is. I actually had one produce guy tell me that it wasn’t in season now. I’d have to wait until Christmas time.
Perseverance paid, however, and once I had a couple of pounds in hand, I was able to slice it and simmer it along with the juice from an orange and some sugar. Once it was nice and soft, I let it cool, then added chopped strawberries.
I deviated from the recipe a tad at this point. I was supposed to just drain the mixture and it would be done, but I wanted it to be a bit less chunky, so I ran it through the food processor with a light pulse or two. Then I drained the juices and set it aside in the fridge until needed.
The cake was easy enough to throw together. I used my hand mixer and was able to bake up the three layers without any problem.
The same went for the frosting. The important thing to pay attention to with it is that the cream cheese really needs to be softened so there aren’t any lumps.
Dudette said that she didn’t like this. She LOVED, loved, loved, loved it. Her words. And Hubby and I second her emotions. This cake is beyond awesome. Any yellow cake would do, of course, but Good Housekeeping’s version is very tasty. The stars, however, are the filling and the frosting.
The strawberry rhubarb were made to be together and marry perfectly well here. The hint of orange is glorious too, though I was thinking that to adultify this dessert a bit it would be fun to splash in a couple tablespoons of orange liqueur.
The frosting. Oh, the frosting. It’s light. It’s creamy. It’s just enough cream cheesy. I could bathe in it.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I’d add three tablespoons of orange liqueur to the filling after the strawberries are added but before it’s drained, but it’s awesome as is too.
- 1 orange
- 3½ cup(s) granulated sugar
- 2 pound(s) rhubarb, trimmed and sliced
- 1 pound(s) (about 4 cups) strawberries, trimmed and chopped, plus sliced strawberries for garnish
- 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup(s) whole milk
- 3 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
- 3 cup(s) cake flour, not self-rising
- 1 tablespoon(s) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon(s) salt
- 12 tablespoon(s) butter, no substitutions
- 1¼ cup(s) confectioners' sugar
- 8 ounce(s) cream cheese, softened
- 2 cup(s) heavy cream, cold
- Squeeze the juice from the orange into a 4-quart saucepan. Stir in 2 cups of granulated sugar and cook on medium-high until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Add the rhubarb and cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer the rhubarb to a bowl and cool slightly. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 2 hours. Stir in the chopped strawberries and refrigerate.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottoms of three 8-inch cake pans and line them with parchment paper. Grease and flour the parchment and sides of the pans.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, whole eggs, ¼ cup of the milk, and 2 teaspoons of the vanilla until combined. In a large bowl, with a mixer on low speed, mix the flour, baking powder, remaining 1½ cups of granulated sugar, and salt; beat in the butter and remaining ¾ cup of milk on medium-high speed. Add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating well between additions. Divide the batter evenly among the pans. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 10 minutes then, loosen the sides with a knife, and invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely.
- Place 1 cake on a plate. Strain the liquid from the rhubarb mixture; discard the liquid. Spread half of the rhubarb mixture onto the cake, leaving a 1-inch border. Repeat with the second cake and the remaining rhubarb. Top with the third cake.
- In a large bowl, with a mixer on high, whisk the confectioners' sugar, cream cheese, and remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla until fluffy. Slowly drizzle in the cream and whisk on high until stiff peaks form.
- Cover the cake with the frosting and garnish with the sliced berries. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap (before garnishing) and refrigerate up to 1 day.
I think I’d like to plant some rhubarb in our yard and walk Dudette through the summer ritual of eating it straight out of the ground, while it’s still sun-kissed warm. Yes, yes, I know that the leaves are poisonous, but they’re also green and we know where Dudette stands on green stuff.