In ode to spring and the fact that I am going through a bit of a serious pink phase—cloths, shoes, sweatshirts, even coffee mugs—I made this cake to appease both of these loves. The recipe is loosely based off of my absolute, most coveted, homemade cake—a banana, walnut cake that my Mom made for me on my first birthday and one the I would request every year ever since (of course exluding those awkward years when I hadn’t yet developed the talent of speech).
In this adapted version to accommodate spring flavors, I also added the high-protein grain, amaranth. Amaranth has been a staple grain in Central America for centuries, and said to be prevalently used by the Aztecs. These tiny pearls pack an unusually high amount of protein, iron, and the amino acid lysine, but also add immense richness and moisture to the cake.
I thought I would have to test and retest this cake until it came out properly, but I was more than surprised that my first bite into my first try yielded intense and even drool-worthy satisfaction. Sorry Mom, but next year could you try finding rhubarb in February?
For the cake
2 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
Combine rhubarb, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat, simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Puree the mixture in a food processor. Refrigerate for ½ hour or over night if making ahead.
½ pound (2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
Rhubarb puree from step 1
½ cup cooked amaranth, see package for cooking instructions
1 3/4 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 teaspoons baking soda
5 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚. Grease two, 8-inch cake pans and line bottom with parchment. Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add rhubarb puree and mix well to combine. Add the amaranth and stir to combine.
2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Fold the dry ingredients to the egg mixture until just combined and no flour lumps remain. Add buttermilk and vanilla and stir to combine.
3. Distribute the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops are golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes and remove from pans. Set aside and let cool completely.
For the Frosting
1/2 cups 1/2-inch pieces fresh rhubarb (from about 1 pound)
1/2 cup strawberries, tops removed and halved
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
Combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and water in a saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and simmer until rhubarb is very tender, about 15 minutes. Puree mixture in processor. Set aside to cool.
(All ingredients must be at room temperature)
12 oz. cream cheese
1 stick of butter
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Strawberry-rhubard mixture from step 1.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl until mixture has reached a light and smooth consistency. When cake has cooled, place one layer on a serving plate and frost with cream cheese frosting. Cover with second layer of and frost top and sides of cake. Arrange sliced strawberries on top for decoration.