I'm going to let you all in on a little secret - life is absolutely crazy right now. And while I may be busier than I have ever been in my life, I have never been happier. Currently, I am typing this up on the laptop while Brett gets the baby ready for bed, Remy girl is snoring at my feet, and I reminisce about my first Mother's Day. It's late and I am tired from editing my book all morning and playing with Everett all afternoon, but I can't help but smile and be thankful for the wonderful life we are living right now.
Each week, Brett and I sit down a take a look at our schedules. We take turns filling in the gaps around my writing deadlines and his school schedule with photography assignments, Brett's portfolio project, and playing with baby - of course. We work nights. We work weekends. The breaks are few and far in between, but we are managing. The truth is, this is our new normal. A working mom and student dad to a new baby boy. I've finally accepted that this is just life now - but a life that is full, energized (despite the lack of sleep), and bright. In between it all, we still manage to enjoy meals out, walks around our beautiful city (when it is not raining), movie nights, and lots of snuggles. And projects for the blog - even if just for fun, like this one. Thank goodness for an extremely well behaved baby, understanding/flexible husband, and a sun that doesn't set until nearly 9pm - giving me more time to photograph treats and opportunities to enjoy some time outside.
For a while now I have been aching to make something that was just plain pretty and delicious. A new sweet treat just for you blog readers. I have so many ideas floating around in my brain and list upon list of projects I want to try out. I don't always get around to testing out all of them, but I did snag some time to put together this beauty. The result? This mega ruffle Strawberry Rhubarb Zucchini Cake. Zucchini has been popping up with the warmer weather and I had been dying to throw it in my fudgey, eggless chocolate cake recipe. You know me, I obviously don't follow any strict food diets. I'm not vegetarian, I don't keep Kosher, and I hardly count calories. So when I make something that just happens to be sans eggs, you better believe it is because it just happens to taste amazing that way. Dare I say it is vegan? Who cares - it's fudgy and delicous. The zucchini keeps things extra moist and even adds a bit of nutrients. Yay, healthy dessert that is about to be smothered in buttercream!
Over the last month, I have been making Strawberry Rhubarb Compote on repeat. I was so excited to finally see rhubarb in the store again, I went a little overboard. I've been adding to my morning yogurt, oatmeal, and anything else I can think of. Naturally, I threw it in some buttercream. Amazing, I tell you! The tartness of the rhubarb balances out sweet buttercream perfectly. And although you can't taste the zucchini, paired with this strawberry rhubarb buttercream, this cake is like summer in every bite. A bit tart, a bit sweet - plus chocolate goodness. And vegan optional!
I was able to steal away an hour or two over the weekend to throw everything all together. The filling is a bit more concentrated with compote for extra flavour, while the frosting takes on a bit less for pipe-ability. For the finish, I used a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip. Using a simple reverse shell method, I covered the sides and top of the cake with mega ruffles. For the sides, I just made horizontal rows of shells. For the top - concentric circles. They spirals aren't perfectly aligned, but I love how frilly it all turned out (be sure to give the cake a quick crumb coat just in case there are gaps between your shells). After some quick pics out of the patio, I was able to run back inside just in time to watch Everett roll over for the first time on his own. True story. Happy Mother's Day to me!! So so proud.
Hopefully I will be able to continue to sneak in more original recipes right here on the blog from here on out. I have so many recipe ideas and DIY's that I am just dying to try out and share! It's going to be a juggling act for at least the next 18 years, so we better get used to it =)
Strawberry Rhubarb Zucchini Cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup +2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 3/4 cup grated zucchini
- 3/4 cup strawberry rhubarb compote
- 4 cups buttercream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 6-inch round pans. Set aside.
- Sift together all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, Stir in the sugars until combined.
- Make three wells in the dry mixture and add the oil, vinegar, and vanilla to each well. Stir to combine.
- Whisk while slowly pouring in the hot water and stir until smooth.
- Fold in the zucchini.
- Evenly distribute the batter between the three pans and bake for 23-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean.
- Let cool on a wire rack 10-15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
- For the filling, mix 1/2 cup compote with 1 1/2 cup buttercream until combined. Evenly distribute between the two layers of cake.
- For the frosting, mix the remaining compote with the remaining buttercream. Frost cake as desired.
Non- Recipe Strawberry Rhubarb Compote:
1:1 ratio quartered strawberries to sliced rhubarb 1 teaspoon sugar per cup fruit, or to taste 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice per 2 cups fruit
Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium-high. Bring the juices to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Stirring intermittently, cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the fruit begins to soften and juice thickens slightly. Let cool and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
1) To keep things vegan, use a vegan buttercream base to mix with the Strawberry Rhubarb Compote. Try a non-dairy butter like Earth Balance or cream cheese like Daiya brand. 2) I personally used my favourite Swiss Meringue Buttercream - although it negates the whole eggless part of the cake. Oh well ;) 3) If you don't plan on creating the ruffle finish, then start with only about 3 cups of buttercream. Adjust compote according to taste.