Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Joust? APRIL FOOLS!



This was my little April Fool's joke.
Thanks so much to all of you for your kind and generous comments about the cake. There are places even the most adventurous and innovative culinary arts should never go, and asparagus cake is one of them! You all must have been wondering, asparagus in a cake? Has she lost her mind? Well, my mind maybe, my sense of humor, no! :) Actually, I could probably totally get behind say, a savory asparagus cheesecake.

Oddly enough, the cake part was actually delicious. I'm sure it would have been even MORE delicious without the asparagus in it. I don't know how, since asparagus is one of the more assertive flavors in the world of food, but you couldn't taste it at all in the finished cake. I guess it's like the zucchini in zucchini bread, it just kind of melts in there. But the frosting: the only way to describe it is: weird. Not bad, not unpleasant, just weird. Especially the asparagus curd. It tasted like asparagus with sweet hollandaise. Overall, I would call this a flavor trainwreck.

I did have so much fun dreaming this one up, and making it. My advice: don't try this one at home, boys and girls! Enjoy your wonderful spring asparagus as nature intended: with hollandaise, or roasted with parmesan, or any number of other savory ways. In my opinion, its attempt at crossing over into the sweet zone was not entirely successful. I now know what I have always suspected: as pretty as it may be, Asparagus Cake is NOT a "good thing."

Thanks for playing along with my joke!

My REAL joust entry is here.

This month's Royal Foodie Joust, presided over as always by The Leftover Queen has been a lot of fun. As the winner of last month's Royal Foodie Joust, 5 Star Foodie got to choose this month's magic ingredients: almonds, lemongrass, and asparagus. The perfect spring ingredients!

These ingredients reminded me of my grandmother's special spring-time beet and strawberry cake that we enjoyed every year at her Easter table. My grandfather was a prize-winning gardener and besides flowers, grew beets, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. The raspberries and blackberries weren't ready to eat until summertime, but the beets and strawberries were the first to be ready to eat in the spring.

I decided it would be fun to use this month's ingredients to create a new cake to celebrate spring and Easter. Designing this recipe was a lot of fun. Who knows? I may have started a new family tradition. Here is my original recipe for

5-Spice Almond, Ginger, and Asparagus Cake
Lemongrass-Asparagus Cream Frosting

by DomesticMuse

As I was out looking for ingredients for my cake, I noticed this in the baking aisle, and knew that it would be the perfect complement to the warm flavors of 5-Spice powder and ginger that I was planning to use as the high notes for my festive cake.

Here are the ingredients:

1 box Orange Supreme cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 c. canola oil
1 c. water
1/2 c. chopped toasted almonds
grated zest of 1 orange
1 T Chinese 5-Spice Powder
1/4 c. chopped crystallized ginger
1 T chopped fresh lemongrass
1 bunch green asparagus, tips separated from stalks

For the Frosting:
For the Lemongrass-Asparagus Curd:

2 eggs

2 egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, chopped
grated zest of 1 lime

5 T fresh lime juice
1 T fresh lemon juice
asparagus tips from 1 bunch asparagus
1/2 c. butter
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 t. vanilla

For the cake, place the cake mix in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the almonds, ginger, 5-Spice powder, chopped lemongrass and orange zest to the bowl.

Whisking the 5-Spice Powder into the cake mix:

My toasted almonds

My chopped ginger:

Chopped lemongrass:

Adding the lemongrass to the dry ingredients:

Place the stalks from the 1/2 lb. bunch of asparagus in the bowl of a food processor.
Process until finely chopped and partially pureed.

Add the eggs, water, and oil to the cake bowl.

Add the chopped asparagus stalks to the cake mixture.

Stir to combine.
Beat the ingredients using the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between 2 greased and floured 8" cake pans.

Bake at 350F for 35 min, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes,

The cakes came out perfect!

then turn the cakes out of the pans and reinvert on the rack to cool right-side up.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and add 2 T sugar and a pinch of salt to the water.
Add the asparagus tips and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.

My cooked asparagus tips:

Place the cooked asparagus tips in the bowl of a food processor and add enough cooking liquid to puree the asparagus.

Force the puree through the finest disc of a food mill, and set aside.

My finished asparagus puree for the Lemongrass-Asparagus Curd

Time to make the curd base.
Place the 1/2 c. sugar in the bowl of a food processor and add the chopped lemongrass and the lime zest. Process together until all ingredients are finely chopped.

This smelled amazing-- I need to find more uses for this lemongrass-lime scented sugar

Place the eggs and the egg yolks in a heavy saucepan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Whisk to combine. Add the fresh lime and lemon juices, and the sugar mixture to the pan.

Whisk to combine. Add the butter, cut into small pieces.

Cook the mixture over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens.

This didn't take too long; the curd base thickened up very nicely.

Remove from the heat, and allow to cool to lukewarm.
Fold the asparagus puree into the curd mixture, and refrigerate.

I wasn't sure how much asparagus I would need for the flavor and color I was hoping for, so I added it a little at a time. I ended up using all of it!

My finished Lemongrass-Asparagus Curd. These flavors worked great together!

When the cakes and asparagus curd have cooled completely, finish the frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, place the heavy cream and the vanilla. Whip until stiff. Add the Lemongrass-Asparagus Curd and mix thoroughly.
The frosting was very tasty: the lemongrass added just the right amount of bright lemon flavor, while the asparagus provided a subtle, vegetal and grassy note. The whipped cream added lightness. Very springy! The color was a beautiful pale spring green. It didn't really show up well in the photos.

I forgot to take a photo of the finished frosting, but you can see it in the photos below.

Remove 1 c. of the Lemongrass-Asparagus Cream Frosting and place in a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip. Place one cake layer on a cake platter. Top with about 1/2 c. of the Lemongrass-Asparagus Cream. Place the other cake layer on top of the first. Frost both cake layers with the Lemongrass-Asparagus Cream. Use the reserved Lemongrass-Asparagus cream to pipe decorations on the cake. Garnish with fresh strawberries and, if desired, vanilla-candied white asparagus tips. (See below.)

The lighting in my apt. is terrible, but the cake turned out really pretty!

We enjoyed this festive, springtime cake. The cake was delicious. The 5-spice powder was exactly the right touch! The almonds gave it a nice crunch, while the ginger added little bursts of spice. You can't really taste the asparagus, but it makes the cake very moist and tender. The light, bright Lemongrass-Asparagus Cream was the perfect finishing touch for this cake.

Try a piece! Happy Spring!!

For the vanilla candied asparagus tips:

With a knife, remove just the top 3/4" or so of the white asparagus tips.

In as small saucepan, combine 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. water

And 1 T vanilla powder.

Bring the syrup to a boil and cook until reduced and thick.

Add the asparagus tips and cook for 2 minutes.

Remove from the vanilla caramel syrup and place on a sheet of greased waxed paper to dry.

As they dry, these shrink amazingly!


  1. Lovely dish, but he cake, OMG the cake.. It looks wonderfully delicious and you decorated it so prettily!! It really sounds delicious Karen.

  2. Wow! I'm totally impressed. This cake looks amazing. What a creative use of the ingredients. Mmm, I'd love to try this!

  3. The cake looks extremely moist (my kind of cake)

  4. OMG! I am so impressed! That cake looks wonderful. I can not believe you just made up a cake recipe! I can barely make a cake from a box.

  5. You are so creative!! I can't believe you put asparagus in a cake! You are so brave! I'm glad it turned out so good, not that I would expect anything different from you. It looks pretty!

  6. Notice I say "I can't believe you put asparagus in cake?" I had a gag reflex that I was trying to ignore, because you said it was good! See how much I trust you? I'm smiling from ear to ear, so funny! You got us!

  7. Okay, so I feel silly that I thought the Arepas were the Asparagus cakes...This creation does look quite lovely, am impressed. Yes, you did have a good April Fools cake for the blog folk. Good job!

  8. This was a great post! And you're on Fabulous Foodie Fridays! Congratulations!


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