Happy Mardi Gras! However, once Fat Tuesday is gone this will also end up as the week of all things sweet that are pink and red, so I thought it would be appropriate for me to share a recipe that displayed the colors and mood of the week. Personally, I am not much of a big Valentine's day person, I prefer if people loved and sent me gifts on each of the 365 days of the year versus just one day. Plus the "holiday" these days is way too commercialized and over priced, so I tend to avoid it. But this week I too will have a pink colored week with this delicious rose petal flavored cake and I hope you will enjoy it too! Ever since I baked my rose and cardamom cookies for the cookie swap, I've been besieged with thoughts of baking a rose-themed cake sans the cardamom.
I wanted a soft, tender and moist cake that would just simply smell and taste of fresh roses. Rose water is a very mild ingredient when it comes to fragrance but if you can get your hands on a good quality rose syrup that is used to make sweet drinks and sherbets, you are in luck! I normally use the Rooh Afza brand which I find very easily in most Indian stores as a stronger rose flavoring ingredient if I want to flavor a dessert. Another fun ingredient that you can also find at most Indian and Middle Eastern stores is the candied rose petal preserve called gulkhand. This is a very common accompaniment in India that is used as a mouth cleanser and freshener after a meal. Just by itself, I find the taste and fragrance to be deliciously heavenly. Fresh edible rose petals are collected and then cooked with honey or sugar to create a preserve of the tender petals.
For my cake, I adapted a chiffon cake recipe from one of my favorite and in my mind, a very useful cookbook, "The Science of Good Cooking" by Cook's Illustrated. If you are a science geek or nerd, then you will love this book.
For the frosting, I turned as always in time of need to my domestic fairy godmother Martha Stewart, for her easy cream cheese frosting. By adding the rose petal preserves and flavoring it with the rose water and syrup, I eliminated the need to incorporate the petals into the cake batter. You can adjust the color of the frosting by adding a little more or less of the syrup. The oil keeps the cake moist while the cake flour offers a tender crumb due to its lower protein content than regular all-purpose flour. Do make sure to have your eggs at room temperature and always use fresh baking soda that is active!
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups unbleached cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 large eggs (2 whole, 5 separated), room temperature
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil (preferably a neutral tasting oil)
2 tablespoons rose water
3 tablespoons rose syrup (Rooh Afza brand or any other rose syrup that is sweet and red in color)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1. Set the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325F. Line the bottom of a 9" circular springform pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt for one minute, till all the dry ingredients are completely mixed.
3. Whisk in the 2 whole eggs and the 5 egg yolks, water, oil, and rose water until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix the batter.
4. Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar at medium-low speed for 1 minute and then medium-high speed for 5 minutes or until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
5. Using a silicone spatula carefully fold the egg whites into the batter. Make sure that all the egg whites are folded into the batter and there are no traces of egg white.
6. Pour the batter into the springform pan.
7. Drizzle the rose syrup on the batter and with a fine knife or skewer (I use a bamboo skewer for this) swirl the red syrup in a random circular motion to create a swirl pattern.
8. Gently tap the pan to release any trapped air bubbles in the batter and bake the cake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean from the center.
9. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least an hour and then remove the cake from the pan by carefully running a knife between the edges of the cake and the pan. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool for another 2 hours before icing.
rose petal cream cheese frosting
rose petal cream cheese frosting
yields: about 2 cups
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick of butter, chopped, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup gulkhand or candied rose petal preserves
1 tablespoon rose syrup
1. In a large mixing bowl, mash the cream cheese with a fork or rubber spatula.
2. Gradually beat in the butter with an electric hand mixer until completely smooth.
3. Sift the sugar into the bowl and beat until smooth.
4. Mix the gulkhand/preserves and rose syrup in a small bowl to make a slurry. Beat this into the frosting until completely mixed. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before use.
assembling the cake
1. Slice the cooled cake in half with a serrated bread knife. Carefully place the top of the cake aside on a clean surface.
2. Spread about half of the cream cheese frosting on the surface of the lower half of the cake.
3. Carefully align and place the top half of the cake over the frosted lower half.
4. Spread the rest of the frosting on the top of the cake.
Note: I recommend chilling the cake for 20 minutes before serving. It makes it easier to cut the cake without having cake move. The frosting gets firmer and will prevent the sandwiched cake from sliding. While assembling the cake, it useful to place the cake onto a circular cake drum, it will make it easy for you to transfer the frosted cake to a cake stand or any other serving dish.