Hawaiian Guava Cake


God, I don’t even know where to start. It’s my mother’s sixtieth birthday today.

Thirty years ago at this time, she was about to pop. In fact, I stayed ten days late. Our birthdays were supposed to be five days apart. Finally, she decided to eat some fried chicken, to which I replied “PEACE!” After 24 hours of labor, she brought me into the world. What a powerhouse.

I also want to point out, because she always says that he isn’t around to stand up for himself whenever anyone tries to speak ill (classy af), that my mother raised me.

I remember when she worked and went to school and took care of me, and I think sometimes we don’t know when to high-five a person. Because I don’t think I ever saw her receive a high-five, and she is the most deserving person I have ever known.

She used to eat my pizza crusts when I was a kid so I wouldn’t have to. She would leave notes in my lunch sometimes. Also, she didn’t make fun of me that one time when she found my hidden love notes for Zac Hanson.

One time, I left my teddy bear at my grandmother’s house in Canada, and we realized it when we’d already made the drive home. Y’all, I was shook. I was so distraught.

That bear houses a piece of my soul that needs the most tender love.

(She packed up the car immediately and we drove back to get him.) ❤

My favorite memory is a simple one, though. We were at the grocery store picking out produce and one of us made a derogatory comment and we cracked up. At the SAME TIME, we both snorted, leaned in, and bumped heads.

As I have grown to become who I am now, I hear how much I am like her. We have the same mannerisms. We have the same laugh (and snort). We are both safe spaces for people (often, without trying).

Most recently, she accidentally texted me instead of her boyfriend, and she hushed my, “MUM NO” with, “Sweetie, I am just giving you hope.” And honestly, she is. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

So, I made the most festive cake I could find, delicately pink velvet infused with guava concentrate, topped with nonpareils. Because fancy begets fancy.

Happiest Birthday to my wonderful mama. There ought to be a picture of you in the dictionary next to the word inspiration. I love you!

One Year: Rosy Matcha Fizz
Two Years: Lemon, Mint, and Rose Tea Blend
Three Years: Christian’s Chipotle Mac and Cheese
Four Years: NYT Mac and Cheese
Five Years: Big Crumb Coffee Cake
Six Years: Red Curry Chicken Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Corn

Guava Cake
Adapted From NYT Cooking

Cake:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 egg whites
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup whole milk
1 cup reduced guava juice (or guava concentrate, see Tip)
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 drops red food coloring (optional)

Frosting:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz cream cheese (at room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
3 drops red food coloring (optional)
1/2 cup reduced guava juice (or guava concentrate, see Tip)

Assembly:
nonpareils, for sprinkling

TIP: If using guava juice, reduce it. Boil two liters of juice over high heat until it’s reduced by half, about 40 minutes. Let cool completely before using. Avoid juices that contain any added sugar so the cake does not become overly sweet (ex: Ceres brand).

Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk together flour baking powder, and salt until combined. In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar on medium until well combined, about 3 minutes. Add the egg whites in three additions, beating about 1 minute after each. Reduce speed to low, add the oil, and mix until combined, about 1 more minute. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, guava concentrate, vanilla, and food coloring. On low speed, alternate between adding the wet and dry ingredients to the butter mixture, mixing well after each addition. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting:
In a medium bowl, beat the cream on medium speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually increase the speed to high and whip until it’s light and fluffy with stiff peaks, another 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar and the salt and increase the speed to high. Beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the food coloring. Add the guava concentrate in four additions, mixing well after each addition, and scraping down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula after the second and the final additions. increase the speed to high and beat until smooth and well incorporated, 1-2 minutes. Using a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream in three additions, incorporating completely after each addition.

Assembly:
Spread the frosting on the cooled cake, using an offset spatula to smooth it over the edges. Sprinkle with nonpareils. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Slice into squares, to serve.

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