Last summer I received a beautiful dessert magazine in the mail. It was titled Sweet Dreams, and the cover had a big glossy image of a cake on it. It was so striking, I couldn't wait to read every single page. I quickly found out it was written in German, so reading would have to wait for translation. Still, I sat leafing through the pictures and -surprise- a picture of me! There I was, in the same magazine with esteemed pastry chefs and their gorgeous desserts -which was a real hoot, if you ask me! On the opposite page (and more eye-catching than I could ever be) was a picture of fresh rhubarb, with stalks shaved paper-thin and curled into ribbons. I may have gasped, it was so beautiful.
Further into my reading (if you can call it that) I fell in love with a cake. At first glance I had no idea what was on the inside, nor did I care because the outside was so stunning. It was all wrapped up in strips of pink-red rhubarb. I wanted to make it immediately, but found myself questioning my own aptitude. Then I remembered something a smart baker once said: you shouldn't be afraid of cake, if anything, cake should be afraid of you because you're going to eat it.
I decided to go forward on that thought.
Since the recipe was in German, I set to translating it, and gratefully I have a friend who is a German professor who helped me when I stumbled (dankeschön, Darlene!).
After the recipe was translated in full, I decided to use my own method for making pineapple mousse, mostly because the recipe called for gelatin sheets, and those aren't sold in grocery stores here. Other problems persisted - the local produce wasn't great, I could only find short stalks of rhubarb and I couldn't find any good tarragon (only bad tarragon), so a few things were changed and simplified along the way.
Despite all the tweaking, this cake is delicious. Dreamy. And, of course, the one thing I refused to compromise was the beautiful paper thin covering of rhubarb strips across the cake.
This recipe makes a standard 8-inch cake. Since my rhubarb stalks were so very short, and they wouldn't have wrapped very far around a cake that size, I ended up making one 5-inch cake and three 2-inch cakes. I must admit, it was kind of nice having my own little single serving cake.