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This Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake is pillowy soft, moist and flavorful. It is the perfect balance of tangy buttermilk and rhubarb, sweet white chocolate and sliced fresh strawberries!
My husband asked for just two things for Father’s Day last week: a strawberry-rhubarb dessert, and a nap. Yes, we are so desperate for sleep at our house that a nap is a legitimate gift request. Toddler terrorism is real, people. Is there an #itgetsbetter campaign for parents that reassures us that at some point, they will play by themselves and they will not wake up a dozen times a night? Because I would share the heck out of that video, probably while half-asleep and sobbing quietly to myself.
Anyhow, the nap was the easy part to deliver. For the strawberry rhubarb dessert, I had visions of this layer cake dancing in my head, but ran out of time to make all the components. Instead, I settled for a re-make of last year’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. It got zero complaints (understatement) and Jason considered it a Father’s Day well spent, but I was still left with the itch to make a big, beautiful strawberry-rhubarb cake.
Fortunately, strawberry season is in full swing, and rhubarb is still hanging around the market, so I was able to make this cake happen, just a little later than scheduled! And if you’re looking for more, don’t forget to check out this collection of strawberry dessert recipes!
The base of this cake is a White Chocolate Buttermilk Cake that comes from Desserts by the Yard. Sherry Yard is a pastry genius who knows her way around a cake recipe, I tell you what. This recipe is more work than your typical cake—it requires melting and cooling white chocolate, plus whipping egg whites into a meringue and folding it into the batter. It’s a little high maintenance, is all I’m saying. But it’s totally worth it, because the cake layers are so moist and flavorful, balancing the tanginess of buttermilk with the sweetness of white chocolate.
The biggest selling point for this cake recipe, though, is that it stays soft and moist in the refrigerator. So many cakes get dense and hard when refrigerated, but this one is still dreamy and pillowy soft, which is a necessity when dealing with a whipped cream cake that needs near-constant refrigeration. Of course you’re free to substitute any cake recipe or cake mix you’d like, but I don’t think you can do better than this one.
The cake is filled with tangy rhubarb curd and sliced fresh strawberries. Rhubarb curd is almost as easy to make as lemon curd, and it made me rethink every toast-topping decision I’ve ever made. Here I am, putting avocado on my toast every morning like a sucker, when I could be enjoying rhubarb curd toast instead. It’s thick and rich, with the perfect balance of sour and sweet. I also had some homemade rhubarb jam I snuck into the middle layer, but I left that out of the recipe, because it’s just as good with just curd + berries.
And the strawberry decorations on the outside! As regular readers might recall, I’m a little wary of naked cakes and have to clothe my cakes, just a bit, so that I feel comfortable. What can I say, I’m a cake prude. I like a little somethin’-somethin’ around the outside! So for this nearly naked cake, I made sure my whipped cream layers were nice and tall, and then stuck thinly sliced strawberries all along the outside of the cake. It added some visual interest and a lot of color. If you’re going to be making the cake a day or two in advance, I’d recommend waiting until shortly before serving to add the berries, since they will start to look wilted over time.
I admit I went a little crazy on top of the cake. Whipped cream! Flowers! Berries! Mint leaves! White chocolate curls! Miniature toy poodles! Everyone pile on! It’s a little excessive, but isn’t that what celebration cakes are supposed to be? Nothing says “I love you, thanks for fathering my child, enjoy your nap because you won’t get another one for 364 days” like a big pile of beautiful things on top of a cake. We ate it the week after Father’s Day, but it still felt like a gift. It was perfect.
Berry Shortcake in a Jar
Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cakes
Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake
For the White Chocolate-Buttermilk Cake:
- 8 oz cake flour, (2 cups)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
- 6 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 12 1/4 oz granulated sugar, (1 3/4 cups)
- 4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
For the Rhubarb Curd:
- 10 oz fresh rhubarb
- 3 oz unsalted butter, (6 TBSP)
- 7 oz granulated sugar, (1 cup)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 lbs fresh strawberries
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- Flowers, to decorate, optional
- Mint leaves, to decorate, optional
- White chocolate curls, to decorate, optional
To Make the White Chocolate-Buttermilk Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line four 8×2-inch cake pans with parchment, and spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray. (Two 8×3-inch pans can be used instead, you will just have to adjust the cooking time.)
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside for now.
- Melt the white chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating. Set aside until the white chocolate is at room temperature but still fluid.
- Combine the butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream them together for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Stir 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture into the melted white chocolate, then add the chocolate back to the butter in the mixer, and mix on low speed until blended. Add the egg yolks in two batches, mixing well between each addition, then add the vanilla extract.
- With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Stop the mixer when just a few streaks of flour remain, and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until they’re foamy and just starting to hold soft peaks. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar slowly, spoonful by spoonful, and continue whipping the whites until they are glossy and white and have the texture of shaving cream.
- Gently fold the whites into the cake batter in 3 additions. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake the cakes in the 350 F oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking. Bake until the cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cakes on a wire rack, and once at room temperature, run a knife around the edge and gently flip them out of the pans. For the easiest assembly, wrap the cakes individually in plastic wrap and place them in the freezer until they’re slightly frozen, for about 30 minutes. The cakes can be made in advance and stored in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
To Make the Rhubarb Curd:
- Wash the rhubarb, and cut off any leaves and the woody stems. Chop the rhubarb into small chunks and place in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover the rhubarb, and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until the rhubarb is very soft and starts to disintegrate.
- Blend the rhubarb, along with any remaining water, in a blender. Strain the puree through a wire mesh strainer to remove any stringy parts. A little texture in the rhubarb puree is fine, but you want to avoid too much pulp that might ruin the texture of the curd. Cool the rhubarb puree to room temperature.
- Fill the bottom of a double boiler (or a regular saucepan) with about an inch of water and bring it to a simmer on the stovetop.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar with a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until the mixture is light and fluffy. Slowly add the eggs and yolks, and beat for 1 minute more. Add the rhubarb puree and mix—it’s fine if it starts to look curdled at this point.
- Pour the liquid into the top of a double boiler or a bowl that fits snugly over your saucepan. (I actually like to use the metal mixing bowl that goes on my stand mixer so I’m not dirtying too many dishes.) Cook the mixture over the simmering water, whisking frequently, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. If you want to use a candy thermometer, cook the curd until it reaches 170-175 degrees F. Add a drop or two of pink food coloring if you want your curd to have a pink color.
- Once the curd thickens, remove the pan from the heat and pour the curd through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl to remove any bits of cooked egg. Press a layer of cling wrap directly on top of the curd, and refrigerate it until it is chilled and thick, at least 3-4 hours. The curd can be made several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
- Wash the strawberries and pat them dry. Remove the stems. Set aside half of the strawberries to use as decoration, saving the smallest ones for the outside. Chop the remaining strawberries for the inside of the cake.
- Whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar until it holds firm peaks. Transfer some of the cream to a piping bag fit with a coupler or large round tip. Set one cake layer on a cake board, and pipe a tall ring of whipped cream all around the edge—you want it to be almost 1″ tall, so you may have to go around twice to get it all enough. Put a third of the rhubarb curd in the center of the cake and spread it to the edges of the whipped cream circle. Sprinkle a third of the chopped strawberries on top of the curd. Dollop a little whipped cream on top of the strawberries and spread it into an even layer that matches the height of the whipped cream border.
- Gently set a second cake round on top, and repeat the whipped cream circle/rhubarb curd/strawberry routine. Continue a third time, and finish with a fourth cake layer on top. At this point, you probably have some whipped cream squishing out the sides of the cake, so gently run a metal spatula around the edge of the cake to smooth it out and make it even.
- Cut the reserved strawberries into slices, and press them into the whipped cream around the edges of the cake. Chill the cake for at least 1 hour before cutting, to make it more stable and give the cleanest slices. When you’re ready to serve, decorate the top with additional whipped cream, strawberries, mint leaves, fresh flowers, and/or white chocolate curls. Extra cake can be stored, well-wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
THE BEST VALENTINE’S DAY CAKES
Check out our collection of the 27 best Valentine’s Day cake ideas — click here to get all the recipes!
Wooo for strawberry rhubarb cake!! I love the rows of fresh strawberries on the outside, so pretty. I’ll have to try that idea sometime 🙂
Hey to my fellow strawberry-rhubarb twin! Feel free to use the strawberry trick anytime!
Another magical dessert Elizabeth! Those layers are just stunning and I love the idea of strawberries as decoration along the sides! 🙂
Thanks so much, Jessica!
You know my thoughts on a naked cake….so much easier!! And this way we get to see the beautiful colours inside.
I think I’ll have to track down some rhubarb and make this curd.
Thanks Lisa! If you can find some rhubarb you should definitely try the curd, or even a rhubarb jam. Rhubarb is the best!
Hands down the most gorgeous cake I have ever seen. I’m sure your husband was delighted!
Thank you Ashley! He was in strawberry-rhubarb heaven. 🙂
This cake is stunning. It’s soo beautiful with all the strawberries round the outside and the gorgeous flowers and more strawberries on top. I also have to say, it does get easier with lil uns. I had 3 in 3 1/2 years! At one point my neighbour from ACROSS the road came over to see if everything was OK, as lil man was in the throws of a 2 hour plus tantrum! It’s hard work, I’m not going to lie. But it pays off. We have 3 teenagers who enjoy each other’s company & are polite, helpful, wonderful young people. So hang in there – tiredness makes everthing worse, it will get better. Sammie x http://www.feastingisfun.com
Oh, Sammie, it is so good to hear that! Logically I know it’s a short phase, and only a few years, and I’ll miss it later, but man are we tired sometimes. 🙂 And 3 in 3.5 years?! My hat is off to you! I am exhausted thinking about that!
The dessert you made your husband looks just amazing! I would chose a cake over a nap 😀
Ha! At this point I just might choose a nap. But fortunately no one makes us choose between naps and cake. 🙂 Thanks Medeja!
What a gorgeous summer cake! I love how you decorated it so simply but so perfectly!
Thanks, Tori! It totally tasted like summertime!
That’s the tallest shortcake I’ve ever seen! And I love.
Haha, it’s possible I took some liberties with the name. 😀 Thanks Erin!
I love strawberry rhubarb desserts and this cake looks like the best I’ve seen yet! The photos are beautiful also. I’m so glad that you find time to post your inspiring recipes. Thanks so much!
Thank you, Karen! I’m a latecomer to rhubarb and really only started baking with it a few years ago. Now I’m in love–it’s so good in everything!
Ok, I laughed pretty hard about the miniature toy poodles.
Also, double dose of strawberry rhubarb? What a lucky dude. And what a gorgeous cake! Seriously beautiful, and I’m very, very intrigued by this fussy-yet-impossibly-soft cake technique. I think I must try it.
When I wrote it I was actually thinking of that Eddie Izzard sketch where he’s talking about sticking things in the toaster: “Forks! Knives! Spoons! And a WHISK–you’re whisking, you’re whisking!”
DEFINITELY try the cake recipe. Sherry Yard never disappoints!
Can this be my wedding cake? Like, a whole table covered in these towering beauties? I’ll marry in Sweden in midsummer, and we’ll all wear flower crowns. It’s a date. You’ve outdone yourself!
I am SO THERE! That would be the dreamiest. *wistful sigh*
I love the idea of a white chocolate buttermilk cake! This cake is amazing, by far the best looking strawberry like cake I´ve seen!
Thank you Johlene! It’s a great recipe, I definitely recommend giving it a try!
What a beautiful cake! Perfect as always! xoxo
Thanks so much, Kristi!
Sorry you and your husband have been so sleep deprived, I know that’s no fun! Know that it will get better though, I promise! That cake is just lovely. I adore how you decorated it. : )
Thank you Joan! You give me hope!
Can I climb on top as well?? What an amazing cake – and it looks so moist! 🙂
Haha, best cake decorations ever! Thanks Lexi! 🙂
O.M.G! This looks unbelievably amazing! And I bet my Dad would adore this, since he’s a rhubarb fanatic (and loves anything with cake and cream!). Late Father’s Day gift, perhaps?
Late Father’s Day gifts are totally a thing! I can tell you from experience that dads love this cake. 🙂 Thanks Claudia! (Love your blog name BTW.)
Be still my heart. I have just seen heaven on a cake pedestal! Gorgeous. You’ve got a toddler running about and still had time to make this?! You truly are a Sugar Hero!!!
Haha, thank you Meagan! I won’t deny it can be crazy sometimes, but he’s also great at understanding mom’s weird job. Any time he sees a dessert, he asks “Is it photographed yet?” because he knows he can’t have any until after pictures are taken. He doesn’t know enough to know that not all families are like that. 🙂
What a pretty cake! I love rhubarb and your idea of making a curd. The sliced strawberries look beautiful..
Thanks Tiffany! I’d never made rhubarb curd before but it makes total sense–anything sour is a natural for curd, right?
That is jaw dropping amazing! I love the layers and strawberries on the side.
May have to make this in August for the bf’s birthday. 😉
Thanks so much, Linda! I think this would make an awesome birthday cake–hopefully boyfriend agrees. 🙂
In the curd ingredients it asks for 2/3 cup lemon juice. But in the directions for making the rhubarb curd, there is no mention of adding lemon juice. Just curious
My mistake! Total typo! Thanks for pointing that out, I’ve revised the recipe now. No lemon juice required. 🙂
I want to make this for my moms birthday, but I am scared! But it is so beautiful!!
Don’t be scurred! 🙂 You can always take a few shortcuts like using a cake mix or something to reduce the steps, and then still use the decorating technique. Don’t be afraid to make it your own. 🙂 Let me know how it turns out!
What a delicious cake – I made this and everyone loved it! I’m working my way through your recipes and they have all turned out great, just follow through the steps and no problems. They have made me very popular, haha! The don’t always turn out quite as beautiful as yours, but I’m getting better and they always taste delicious 🙂
With this one, the cakes weren’t quite as risen as yours – any tips for making them rise more?
Hi Heather! Thank you so much–I am so thrilled to hear that the cake worked out for you! (And I always recommend bribing people with cake, that’s how I earn all of my popularity, haha! 😀 ) There are a few things to look at as far as the cakes rising. The first is always the freshness of the baking powder and baking soda. You can test them by mixing 1/2 tsp of baking powder with some hot water, and in a separate cup mixing some baking soda with white vinegar. In both cases, you should see them bubble almost right away. If no bubbling or just very weak bubbling occurs, you’ll want to replace whichever leavener seems old.
Other causes of flat cakes could be not beating the butter and sugar for a full 5 minutes in the beginning of the recipe–this adds crucial air and structure into the recipe and helps aerate and strengthen the cake. The other thing would be if the egg whites don’t reach firm enough peaks and are too soft, that could make the cake a little flatter. Or a combination of a couple of these factors! Hopefully it still tasted great!
Great recipe. You’re such an amazing chef. Thanks for sharing
Hi Marie, I am so glad to hear you like them! Thank you so much for your comment, I really appreciate it!