Charlotte is the kind of friend I admire! She knows what she wants, how to captivate her audience and she has a great sense for business (almost everything I’m not...). She created Garmence Wine Studio, a collection of wines 100% online, selected by her, to facilitate our work when we want a good bottle of wine. I love wine but I’m hopeless when it comes to choosing a bottle, I remain in the wine alley for the longest time (in London it’s even worse), and I usually end up finally choosing a bottle with a pretty label, which I think is the worst way to choose a wine, lol. With Garmence’s wine, I know I will not be wrong because they are all great (and their label is always very pretty, which doesn’t spoil anything :P). You may have understood it, I love the concept!
So when Charlotte asked me to create a Garmence cake for a press event, I said yes straight away! That I know how to do ;-) She wants to give wine a more glamorous image, ant that concept speaks to me. The inspiration came easily: I wanted a sophisticated cake, but with a slight rustic feel to it.
However, I have to tell you: this pretty layer cake is a bit more complicated than it seems because of its amazing Swiss meringue rhubarb icing. The acidity of the rhubarb balances perfectly the sweetness of the icing, and the Swiss meringue makes the buttercream wonderfully light. You need to prepare a little before you start because you must succeed in making the rhubarb compote, the Swiss meringue and incorporating the butter … But fear not, I give you all my tips to make this delicious Swiss meringue rhubarb icing a success (I speak of experience because I have failed many Swiss meringues before…). I can not wait to see your versions!
Rhubarb after a recipe from The Vanilla Bean blog
Prep time: 90mn
Cook time: 85mn
For one 20cm cake and one 15cm cake / Serves 20-25
- 500g unsalted butter
- 500g sugar
- 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 10 eggs
- 170g of flour
- 500g incorporated raising flour (485g flour+ 15g baking powder)
- 200g Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 2 pinch salt
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 10cl of water
- the seeds of ½ vanilla pod
- 900g fresh rhubarb, cut into pieces 2cm
- 25cl of water
- few drops of pink food colouring, if needed
- 8 egg whites at room temperature
- 500g of sugar
- 2 pinches of salt
- 680g butter at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Red fruits (for decoration)
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together until the mixture becomes pale and fluffly. Add the eggs one by one, beating much, well blended eggs between each addition. giving the mix a really good beating before adding the next. Add 1 tbsp of the plain flour if the mix starts to look slimy rather than fluffy. Beat in the yogurt.
- Mix and sift the flours before folding them into the dough. Finally add the milk, scrape sides of bowl with a spatula and beat one last time.
- Lightly oil the tins with a brush and line the sides and bottom of baking paper. Divide batter between 20cm and 15cm tins (the dough should be at the same level in both tins), smooth the top with a spatula. Bake at 180°C for about 1h10mn for small cake and 1h25mn for the big. Cover the top of the cake baking paper if they brown too fast. It does not matter if the top of the cake is a little overcooked, it will cut the cake away when we assemble the cake. Cakes are done when skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.
- Place the rhubarb in a pan and add 25cl of water. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and cook for 25-30mn, until the rhubarb is tender and almost all the water has evaporated. Pour the rhubarb compote in a blender and blend into a smooth puree. Let cool completely.
- Put the water, sugar and vanilla pod in a saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Let cool to room temperature.
- Place the egg whites, sugar and a pinch of salt in a large bowl placed over a saucepan filled with hot water. Beat with a hand mixer until sugar dissolves and mixture is slightly hot when testing with yout finger (it must reach 70°C if you are using a thermometer). Transfer the meringue to the bowl of your hand mixer, and beat on medium speed with a whisk for 10 minutes until the bowl is completely cold. The meringue should be shiny and form a peak when lifting the whisk.
- Then, reduce speed to minimum and add the butter piece by piece until it is fully incorporated. Change the whip to the beater hook, and incorporate at slow speed the cooled rhubarb compote, vanilla and a touch of pink food colouring if you want. Mix until everything is incorporated. Use the obtained icing immediately.
- When the cakes have completely cooled, turn and cut the base so that the surface is flat. Then cut into 3 layers. Put the base the base of each cake on a cake platter of the same size then soak each slice with cake syrup. Spread the rhubarb icing between each layer and then glaze the two cakes with a thin layer of icing. Let set 20 minutes in the refrigerator (cover the bowl of frosting but leave it at room temperature during that time before adding a thicker layer of icing. Smooth out with a spatula. Decorate with red fruits. Keep cool until ready to serve.
Tips to successfully make a Swiss meringue rhubarb icing:
- The rhubarb compote must be well-reduced. If after blending it, you find it too liquid, put it back in the saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes, watching constantly to avoid burning.
- Blend the rhubarb compote well, it must be as smooth as possible. But do not worry if there are some rhubarb fibers remain (and there will surely), it gives a very nice rustic effect to the icing.
- Cut the butter into small pieces and remove it from the refrigerator just when you start the meringue. This way it will have enough time to be at room temperature without becoming too soft.
- Make sure the meringue has cooled down completely before adding the butter. Put your hands around the bowl, if it is just warm, that’s it! Just so you know, a glass bowl take much more time to cool that a the stainless steel bowl. So prefer stainless steel bowls if you have a choice…
- Use the swiss meringue rhubarb icing immediately and make sure to keep it at room temperature between the layers of icing (unless it is very hot outside). It hardens very quickly and, unlike a classic butter cream, it is impossible to get a soft texture again once it has hardened. Mark my word, I had to throw many batches because of that…