Rose and Pistachio Cake

Rose and Pistachio cake 5

I’ve been very selective about my baking of late, so only the most exceptional recipes are under consideration, so it’s lucky that I bought Ottolenghi’s book, Sweet. This Rose and Pistachio cake was made for a very special 50th birthday. I’m a huge fan of polenta cakes. This one uses both polenta and ground almonds making it the perfect vehicle for the rose and lemon syrup which soaks the warm cake. The result is a beautifully moist and flavoursome cake. I was expecting a stronger rose flavour, so next time I would swap the quantities of lemon juice and rose water in the syrup. The crystallised rose petals on top are easy to make and can be baked in the oven while you are preparing the cake mixture. I think they are worth the effort as they give the cake that little bit of pizazz.

Rose and Pistachio cake 3

Ingredients

3 cardamom pods

150g shelled pistachio kernels, plus an extra 20g, finely chopped, to serve

100g ground almonds

170g fine semolina

1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

300g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed, plus extra for greasing

330g caster sugar

4 large eggs, lightly whisked

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (1 tsp), plus 1 tbsp lemon juice

Syrup

100ml lemon juice

80ml rose water

100g caster sugar

Crystallised Rose Petals (if using)

1 large egg white

10g pesticide-free red or pink rose petals (about 40 medium rose petals)

25g caster sugar

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 100°C/80°C Fan/Gas Mark ¼. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and grease a 23cm springform cake tin and line with baking parchment.

2. To crystallise the rose petals, if using, whisk the egg white by hand until frothy, then, using a small pastry brush or paintbrush, very lightly paint over both sides of each petal with the egg white: do this in two or three small batches, brushing and then sprinkling lightly over both sides with the sugar. Shake off the excess sugar and lay the petals on the lined baking tray. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, until dry and crunchy, then set aside to cool.

3. Increase the oven temperature to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas Mark 4.

4. Use the flat side of a large knife to crush the cardamom pods and place the seeds in the small bowl of a food processor: you’ll have just under ¼ teaspoon of seeds. The pods can be discarded. Add the pistachios and blitz until the nuts are finely ground – the black cardamom seeds won’t really grind down – then transfer to a bowl. Add the ground almonds, semolina, baking powder and salt. Mix together and set aside.

5. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on a medium-high speed until fully combined but take care not to over-work: you don’t want to incorporate a lot of air into the mix. With the machine still running, slowly add the eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times and making sure that each batch is fully incorporated before adding the next. The mix will curdle once the eggs are added, but don’t worry: this will not affect the end result.

6. Remove the bowl from the machine and add the dry ingredients, folding them in by hand and again, taking care not to over-mix. Next fold in the lemon zest, juice, rose water and vanilla and scrape the batter into the tin. Level with a palette knife and bake for about 55–60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean but oily.

7. Start to make the syrup about 10 minutes before the cake comes out of the oven: you want it to be warm when the cake is ready. Place all the ingredients for the syrup in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, stirring so that the sugar dissolves, then remove from the heat: don’t worry that the consistency is thinner than you might expect, this is how it should be.

8. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, drizzle all of the syrup over the top. It is a lot of syrup, but don’t lose your nerve: the cake can take it! Sprinkle over the finely chopped pistachios and set the cake aside in its tin to come to room temperature. Remove from the tin and scatter the rose petals over the cake. Serve with a generous spoonful of cream alongside.

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Pierre Herme’s Rose Granola

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I don’t think I’ve shared on this blog how amazing Pierre Hermé is. He’s a French pâtissière whose macaron flavours will blow your mind. He has a shop in Covent Garden which is one of my ‘happy places’. Every month, he has a new macaron flavour, so there is always a reason to go there. One of his favours from his permanent collect is Ispahan. This is a combination of rose, raspberry and lychee.

The last time I was in his store I saw that he also did Ispahan jam and granola. Now, my mum loves granola and makes the most fantastic granola herself, so when she came to visit, I wanted her to have something special for breakfast. The recipe comes from Red Magazine (November, 2014) and is one that PH wrote exclusively for them.

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Ingredients

90g almonds

35g pistachios

40g pecans

100g honey

230g rolled oats

100g sunflower seeds

45g pumpkin seeds

50g shredded coconut. (I bought flaked roasted coconut from Holland and Barrett)

200g dried raspberries. (I bought these online)

30g rice crispies (I didn’t use these)

2 drops rose water (I found I needed much more and would recommend at 2 teaspoons)

Granola 3

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  • Preheat oven to 150°C/130°C/ gas mark 2
  • Cut the almonds into thin strips. Spread evenly on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper with the pistachios and pecans which you can also slice, if you like. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Heat the honey in a saucepan until it becomes very runny, add the oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and coconut. Spread evenly in a baking tray with greaseproof paper. (At this point, I would add the 2 teaspoons of rose water, though this is not in the original recipe). Bake for 20 minutes, turning around every 5 minutes to ensure even baking.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Add the nuts, raspberries, rice crispies (if using) and at this point, the original recipe adds the 2 drop of rose water.
  • This will keep in an air tight container for 3 weeks.

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