Easter comes early this year and I’m just hoping it doesn’t snow, like it is currently doing out my window. Send warm thoughts. Yesterday we poked about in the garden and saw signs of life, which is hopeful… violets, lilies, and herbs were all pushing up through the dormant winter earth. The rich dark soil laden with the promise of life that awakens to warmer days. Can you tell I’m soooo ready for spring?! So let’s celebrate the season of rebirth and emergence with a show-stopping cake, shall we?
I’ve been in awe of how the cooking liquid from beans can be turned into meringue. This discovery as been around for a few years and has been coined “aquafaba”, which literally means “water-bean”. The most common type used is from chickpeas, which is what I used in this recipe, but other legumes work too. You can save the liquid from canned chickpeas or, if you’re like me, make your own by saving and reducing the liquid from cooking dried beans. If you make your own, you want to reduce the liquid enough so that is is very viscous and gelatinous at room temperature or when chilled. If I’m cooking a pot of chickpeas, I will cover them with about 2″ of water. After they are cooked, I strain the liquid off into a bowl and then reduce it by about half to get the right consistency needed to make a stable meringue. I like to freeze aquafaba in ice cube trays then store the cubes in freezer bags for later use. One cube is about 2 tablespoons. Just thaw the amount you need before making a recipe.
It’s really quite amazing to see bean water turn into glossy stiff peaks of meringue after about 15 minutes of whipping in a stand mixer. A stand mixer is really helpful here. You can use a hand-held mixer but it will take even longer. This recipe uses a tiny bit of tapioca starch to help the meringue keep it’s structure for piping and while it bakes. In testing I found it helped immensely! Oven temperature is super important and it is good to have an oven thermometer to make sure it is set correctly. You basically want to dry out or dehydrate the meringue, not cook it. It should stay white and not deflate. This means you need a long chunk of time for baking, so plan day when you will be home or do it at night.
Can we talk about this rhubarb curd for a minute tho? It’s bomb. It’s lip puckering but sweet, like a good curd should be. You really taste the rhubarb flavor and can use this in other preparations like tarts, bars or sandwiched between cake layers. It so good! If you don’t make the meringue, still make the curd. It keeps in the fridge for a few days and would be also excellent in a yogurt parfait for breakfast, just saying.
The finished cake is layers of sweet airy meringue clouds, zingy rhubarb curd, whipped coconut cream topped with baked rhubarb and fresh strawberries. The crispy meringue will start to “melt” as soon as anything wet touches it so you need to assemble the cake right before you serve it. Bring it to the table immediately and scoop into bowls to eat it like Eaton Mess. It’s a thing of beauty that turns into a beautiful delicious mess.
Dab the corners of baking sheets with aquafaba meringue to keep parchment paper in place. Trace circles on the underside of parchment to make a template for meringue nests.
Prop Love: Cake server by Facture Goods. Naturally dyed gauze by Nade Studio. Knife by Four Leaf Wood Shop. Cheese Board by Sweet Gum Co. Backdrops by Erickson Woodworks.