The blog turned one this week! I've been playing around with the idea of making a rose cake for a while so I decided that now was a good time to try it. It also seemed appropriate as my grandmother's birthday would have been this week too and she is the one I first started playing around with rose petals with. I couldn't decide how best to have the flavour come across and how to have the flavour match the texture, so I considered (and tried) both a Genoese sponge and a butter cake. In the end the butter cake worked better. I also wasn't sure how best to have the flavour come through from the petals. In one cake I tried adding dried, crushed petals to the batter, and for the other I infused the milk with the rose petals. We had it with rosé syllabub, which surprisingly came out tasting quite rosy. Here is the recipe that worked best, although I might try it over with a couple of tweaks at some point (not just now though as I don't think we need another cake in one day).
For the cake:
1 3/4 c sugar
2/3 c butter
2 3/4 c flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 c milk
1/3 c dried rose petals
For the syllabub:
3/4 c cream
3 tbsp rosé wine
1/2 tbsp sugar
1) Pour milk into a saucepan and add rose petals. Heat slowly until warm but not boiling and leave to infuse for about 30 minutes. Strain.
2) Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time.
3) Mix flour and baking powder together, and add alternately with milk, starting and ending with flour. Mix well and pour into a prepared pan or cupcake tins and bake 30 -35 minutes at 177°C. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
4) Place cream, rosé and sugar in a bowl and beat until thickened. Dollop on top of cakes.
I was really pleased with this cake. It didn't come out tasting very rosy, possibly because unfortunately I had only dried petals to play with, and no fresh petals. Despite not having a strong rose flavour, there was more complexity to the flavour than a usual butter cake. The Genoese sponge version was good, but drier and had even less of a rose flavour. The butter cake was therefore decided to be the better one, although I might play around with ways of intensifying the rose flavour. The rosé syllabub balanced the cake out perfectly. Not too sweet, and with a little acidic bite, and its rosy flavour. I had planned on trying a rose frosting too for comparison, but didn't get around to it, and in retrospect, I'm content with that. The cupcakes rose a lot in the oven but didn't dome, and I wonder if that is because I made the batter in the afternoon and only baked them quite late. Did sitting out half the day in the heat change anything? Trying to compare different versions of a recipe, I definitely wish I had access to a test kitchen!
Book Pairing: I am currently listening to George Eliot's Romola. This is the third book of hers I have read, and I am very much enjoying it, aside from the fact that the central character from the first half of the book is rather a cad. Eliot came recommended to me by a very well-read family friend as being, in his opinion, the finest novelist in the English language. I am very glad that I took his recommendation and gave her a shot!
EDIT: I worked out another two versions of this using fresh petals. Check them out here!