Rhubarb Rosewater Tres Leches Cake

I thought about calling this “I’m Going To Grad School” Tres Leches. It’s exciting, I guess.

I had reached a point where I would rather receive the rejection letter than wonder what else my life could look like. I applied to one place I knew I would get in. And then, I applied to the program I wanted to go to.

Shortly after that, I told my boss I would be stepping down. I realized, it didn’t really matter whether or not I got in, at that point.

[By applying to grad school, I had admitted to myself that I wanted to do something else.]

I clicked Submit, and I checked my e-mail to make sure my apps had been received.

I found, listed just after my confirmation, that I had received a letter. A job I would have been interested in months before was now available, and they had thought of me.

I e-mailed back, thanking them. And, I declined.

It turned out, I wanted to hear about school. Even if that meant missing out on a really cool opportunity, in the meantime.

Anyway, I got in. To both programs.

This means: A Big Life Change is weeks away, and I am simmering rhubarb on the stove and mixing rosewater into its syrup, pureeing the solids for their endpoint…whipped cream. Syrup goes in three milks, poured over yellowy sponge.

And, you know, I didn’t really know how it would turn out. Too sweet, maybe? Or, sour? Not pink enough? And, would the puree in the cream overdo it? But it turns out, it’s the best thing I could’ve done.


One Year: Zucchini Pizza with Lemon and Chives
Two Years: Vegan Cumin-Scented Fresh Corn Soup with Roasted Corn and Avocado Salsa
Three Years: Arugula with Roasted (Fruit and) Vegetables
Four Years: Trottole with Olive Pistou
Five Years: Arugula Goat Cheese Salad with Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette, Brioche Croutons, and Hazelnuts

Rhubarb Tres Leches Cake
Makes 1 9×13-inch Cake

2 cups fresh rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp rosewater

1/4 cup honey
1 tsp rosewater

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12-oz can evaporated milk (nonfat)

2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp granulated sugar
3 heaping tbsp rhubarb puree

Combine rhubarb, sugar, and vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir rhubarb to coat. Rhubarb will release juices as it cooks; stir occasionally about 15 minutes. Place a sieve over a bowl and pour rhubarb over, using a spoon to press the rhubarb into the sieve. Juices will slowly drip into the bowl underneath. Reserve cooked rhubarb in a medium bowl to make puree. Pour syrup into a measuring glass and stir in rosewater. Set aside to cool.

Use a handheld mixer to pure rhubarb, honey, and rosewater. Let cool completely. Meanwhile, make cake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9×13-inch pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy and pale, about four minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with whole milk, until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean with moist crumbs attached. Let cool completely in pan. Once cool, use a skewer or straw to poke little holes in the cake before preparing tres leches.

Add heavy cream to rhubarb syrup, stirring to combine. In a large bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Pour in rhubarb cream, whisking to combine. Pour over cake evenly, using a spoon to evenly drizzle any additional liquid that pools along the sides.

Whisk or beat together cream and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Spoon rhubarb puree in thirds, gently folding in with a spatula. Spread evenly over cake. Slice into squares and serve!


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