April 28th, 2016

Strawberry-Rhubarb Custard Cake


It’s been a long while since I’ve made a big beautiful delicious cake, but the stars aligned last week. Gigi’s “double nickel” birthday and our “last—for a little while” community potluck fell on the same day: April 21st.

Time to celebrate changes and celebrate BIG.


Yes, our community potluck is taking a hiatus. For almost 7 years, we’ve been gathering on the third Thursday of each month, sharing good food and fellowship. Things are changing in our household a bit faster than we anticipated. Our home of 16 years is under contract and we will soon be moving. This is not completely unexpected. We are building a smaller home (fit for our down-sized life!) and had always planned to sell.

Just not this fast.

But when the right person comes along with the right offer, well, you do the right thing.

And this means shift our gears and start packing. There’s one hitch:construction on our new home won’t be complete until late fall, like after Thanksgiving. Our plan? Put our stuff into storage and find a “Svaha” place to live.

Do you know the word “Svaha?” It’s a native American term that means the undefined place between two defined places, like what occurs between the flash of lightning and roll of thunder. The unknown in-between. Who knows where we’ll end up? Guess we’ll be gypsies.

Enough about change and moving and gypsy possibilities—let’s get to the heart of the post, this marvelous cake. The cake itself gets its richness from butter, eggs and Greek yogurt in the batter.


You spread both custard and fruit sauce onto each layer, which seeps into the cake, making it exceptionally moist and delicious. I got the idea, and first made this confection using Florida strawberries while we were in DC for Easter. Everyone loved it.

I baked it again for our potluck-birthday-farewell feast, this time doubling the recipe for a towering dessert, and pairing local berries and rhubarb in the fruit sauce.

Raves around the table, my friends!


If you don’t relish the puckery taste of these ruby stalks (rhubarb is actually a vegetable), try ’em with strawberries. It could change your ways.

As potlucker Rhonda noted, “I can’t believe it. I ‘m making friends with rhubarb.”


The Cake (makes a grand 4 layer cake)
1 pound butter, softened
2 cups sugar
8 eggs
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon fiore di sicilia (optional)
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

2 10 inch cake pans (or springform pans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the cake pans with parchment and coat with butter or baking spray.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then beat in the Greek yogurt and extracts.

In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients—flour, baking powder, soda and salt.

Beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing into a smooth batter.
Divide the batter between the two cake pans.

Bake for 40-45 minutes–until top is golden and set.

Remove and cool on a baking rack.


Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 pound rhubarb, washed and chopped (like celery)
1 quart strawberries, washed, capped, and coarsely chopped

Place a 2 quart saucepan on medium heat. Pour in the sugar, cornstarch and water. Stir well until sugar and cornstarch is dissolved. Add the chopped rhubarb. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 5 minutes, then stir in the strawberries. Cook for another two minutes, stirring well.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake. (This cane be made ahead of time.)


1 quart half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg yolks, beaten

Pour the half-and-half into a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in the sugar, vanilla and cornstarch. Place on medium heat. Stir constantly, making sure the sugar and cornstarch are well dissolved.
When small bubbles form along the rim of the pan, remove from heat.
Add a small amount of liquid to the egg yolks and beat well.
Pour the egg yolks into the saucepan. Place on low heat. Continue stirring (I use a whisk or wooden spoon) Mixture will thicken, and coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake. (This can be made ahead of time.)

Chantilly Cream
3 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place the ingredients into a chilled mixing bowl. Whip until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to ice the cake.


Split both cooled cakes in half, creating 4 layers.

Spread the first layer with strawberry-rhubarb sauce, followed by custard. Top with another cake layer and repeat this process until all four layers are spread with sauce and custard and stacked.

Place into the refrigerator for an hour to set up.

To finish the cake: cover sides and top with whipped cream. Garnish with fresh strawberries and flowers, if you like. Serves 20-25.


Posted in Desserts, Fruit, Recipes

19 Responses to “Strawberry-Rhubarb Custard Cake”
  1. Ernestine Lawson Says:

    Oh my
    this looks so good
    and wondering when family
    could I make :)
    Good luck on all concerning your new home..

  2. goodfoodmatters Says:

    HI Ernestine! The recipe cut in half easily to make a smaller yet no less luscious cake. Thanks so much for your well wishes. It’s a journey!

  3. Gloria Ballard Says:

    Nancy, this cake is beautiful! A wonderful creation for such a special occasion. Best wishes for your Svaha adventures!

  4. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thanks so much Gloria, in a way, I’m looking forward to what our Svaha time will bring. Great to hear from you. Hope all is flourishing in the garden.

  5. Patsy Says:

    I appreciate both the lovely recipe and culture lesson. Wish I had a guest house to offer!

  6. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Gosh, I wish you did too, Patsy!

  7. Gerlinde Says:

    Hi Nancy, if your Svaha ( I learned a new word) brings you to Santa Cruz you can stay with us and we can cook together. Your cake looks marvelous , I love rhubarb and strawberries in desserts .

  8. goodfoodmatters Says:

    That would be so much fun, Gerlinde! I actually like the idea of being a gypsy for a spell, something very liberating about it. but, since we are building this house, it wouldn’t be prudent to stray too far from the area, much as I’d like to.

  9. Teresa Blackburn Says:

    I, for one, love this cake so very much that I was thinking of it the next day and wished I had brought a piece home with me…it is not in any way on any low-fat eating idea that I might be trying, but it is definitely a very good reason to go off such ideas! It was pretty and delicious and Gigi was very pleased I think. Bon Voyage my friend.

  10. Maggie Says:

    Nance, this cake is so beautiful!!! I surely would love a piece! Best of luck with the big moving adventure – I know you and Bill will make it fun!!

  11. Johanne Lamarche Says:

    Such a gorgeous cake to celebrate your Svaha chapter Nancy! I love the white azalea decorations. Anything rhubard has my name all over it and this cake is so tempting! Happy transition time to your new home!

  12. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    Sometimes an offer presents itself that’s just too good to refuse. Even though your house won’t be ready when you are, the in between can be fun! Those in between months will be gone in a flash. All the best to you and Bill. Oh, and the cake looks gorgeous, Nancy.

  13. Denise Says:

    “…like what occurs between the flash of lightning and roll of thunder.” Love that! Enjoy!

  14. Barbara Says:

    I just went through the same thing, Nancy. My house sold in less than a week! I ended up renting….and am loving it. Nobody more surprised than I am.
    What a gorgeous cake! And I love rhubarb!

  15. goodfoodmatters Says:

    HI Johanne–thanks so much for your kind wishes.

    Hi Michele–I think you’re right—time goes so quickly, and that Svaha chapter should move apace as well. I know you have experience with change and downsizing.

    Thank you Denise!

    Barbara, I’m glad your transition has been so positive. We are busy boxing up books, and figuring out what will come with us, and what we will either sell or give away.
    A clean slate can be great.

  16. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    How did I miss this beautiful cake of yours…well better late than never. I hope life is going well. Since we’ve made the big move and downsized, I know what you are going through. Hang in there.

  17. goodfoodmatters Says:

    thanks, Karen. It’s countdown mode: we’re about 19 days out. it’s feeling a little crazy around here!

  18. Juliana Says:

    This is such a gorgeous cake Nancy…I love all the layers of it!
    Now I get the “moving story”…I just had read it in reverse… ;)

  19. Kath Says:

    Oh my goodness, now I have caught up with your news – how exciting. It all sounds quite stressful though,moving, building and setting up an in-between home. Wishing you and Bill the very best for as smooth a transition as possible to your new in-between and then settled life. Sending love. K x

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