Let me tell you a true story I have not yet told anyone.
One night last week, I fell asleep reading the New York Times' sort-of-dated "unicorn food" trend piece and dreamt (really! I did!) of a moss green cake swirled with pink, a loaf in the muted shades of mint chocolate lentils.
The next day, I attempted to bake it. (Yes, it helped that I was home alone for the weekend.)
I was sort of... embarrassed. Unicorn food, in case no one told you, is psychedelic and often glittery; unicorn toast looks like your piece of bread went to Coachella—or was let loose in Sephora at a fifth-grader's birthday party.
In terms of how unicorn toast relates to mermaid toast, I think that mermaid toast is aquatic-themed, whereas unicorn toast looks more like a cloudy sky at sunrise? Do mermaids and unicorns exist in the same imaginary land? Or are they sort of like penguins and polar bears? Always pictured together (at least in Coca-Cola ads) but geographically at odds? Either way, the idea of a mermaid riding a unicorn—she'd have to ride side-saddle—is greatly amusing.
But irrelevant! Stay on topic, Sarah. While unicorn-inspired (though inadvertently, and I blame my subconscious), this cake is real and here—far removed from imaginary worlds and chlorophyll- and spirulina-dyed vegan cream cheese.
Start by cooking chopped rhubarb on the stove with 1/4 cup of sugar—the rhubarb will release its juices, bubbling into the sugar. After five minutes of cook-time, it should be fork-tender but not soupy, stewy, or mushy (if you have any excess water, drain it off). Then, you'll scent sugar with lemon zest before creaming it with the butter. Add eggs, yogurt, and vanilla, and then stir in the dry ingredients—flour, matcha, baking powder, and salt—and fold in the cooked rhubarb. Your batter will look sort of like... guacamole? But don't be alarmed.
The rhubarb is sour, the matcha is earthy, and the lemon is acidic—but somehow, together, they all work. Especially when drizzled with a Greek yogurt icing that's as tangy as a cream cheese glaze but easier to whisk together as your cake cools.
I can't really say with confidence that a mermaid would enjoy this cake. I suppose she would. A merman? Also unclear. But unicorns, they seem more like dogs—undiscriminating in their enjoyment of food—so I'd say yes. As for you (and other real folks)? I sure hope so.
- 240 grams (about 3 stalks) rhubarb, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar, divided
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, at room temperature
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup Greek yogurt, divided
- 1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons matcha powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
P.S. Looking for the best type of loaf pan to bake this in? We did some experimenting to find the answer.
What do mermaids eat? Seaweed? Tell us what you think in the comments below.