Friday, 12 August 2011
Roses are my favourite flowers. I love all sorts of flowers (peonies, sunflowers, lilac, wisteria, lilies, freesias etc etc) but I always come back to roses.
Oddly, though, I don't really like red roses. They've always meant bad luck to me. My favourite colour is pinky-orange, though I'm also a big fan of all the pinks, oranges, yellows and whites.
My great-grandmother loved roses. She planted a beautiful rose garden when she lived in the house I grew up in as a little girl. I think that was when I started loving roses.
I've made sugared rose petals to decorate a cake before - an Espresso, White Chocolate and Rose Cake. They're so simple but striking. As it involves raw egg white you need to be quite careful. I want to try some tests of using other things to sugar them so they're safe for everyone.
I felt the need to make a layer cake the other day. No reason or occasion.
Pistachios are so amazing. I love the complexity, the colour.
Swiss meringue buttercream just felt right with this breezy, romantic cake. It's so light. I didn't add much rose water to it - just a hint, a quiet note.
After all the chaos in the world and particularly the UK this week, this cake felt innocent and peaceful. Just like the days I spent as a toddler sitting in my great-grandmother's rose garden.
Rose and Pistachio Layer Cake
(buttercream adapted from Annie's Eats)
For the pistachio layers:
90g unsalted butter
110g caster sugar
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
20g ground pistachios
For the rose buttercream:
75g egg white (2-3 eggs worth)
110g granulated sugar
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp rose water
To assemble & decorate :
1 unsprayed rose
1 egg white
50g caster sugar
20g ground pistachios
Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease two 5" round tins. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and add the eggs and pistachios. Beat to combine. Divide between the two tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer can be removed cleanly from the centre. Cool in the tins for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack until cool.
To make the sugared petals, carefully pull the petals off the rose. Discard any bruised or brown petals. Separate an egg and put in a small pot. Put the sugar in a small bowl/pot. Using a paintbrush or pastry brush, lightly cover a rose petal in the egg white. Either carefully press the petal into the sugar or sprinkle it on. Put to dry on a sheet. Repeat for all your petals. Leave to dry for about 30 minutes or until fairly hard before using.
If you're nervous about making the buttercream, look at Whisk Kid's tutorial first. When you're ready and have all your ingredients set out, combine the whites and sugar in a medium heatproof bowl and place it over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until the temperature hits 160F and the mixture is smooth (check by rubbing a little between your fingers).
Transfer to a stand mixer (or just use a hand whisk with the same bowl) and start whipping on medium-high. Whip for about 8 minutes - it should be really thick and glossy and gorgeous. Check that it is room temperature - if not leave it for another minute or two slowly whisking. Turn the speed back up to medium/high and add a piece of butter (should be about tbsp sized pieces). Whisk until totally incorporated, then add another. Repeat until all the butter is used.
At this point if it looks soupy and thin, pop it in the fridge. If not, keep whipping until it is thick and luxurious again - this can take quite a while. When ready, whip in the rose water teaspoon by teaspoon, checking after each addition for taste.
Split each of the cakes into two. Place four strips of greaseproof paper on your cake plate and then place one of the layers on top. Remove 1/3 of the butter cream to another bowl and fold in the pistachios. Spread a 1/3 of this pistachio buttercream over a layer. Repeat with the rest of the layers.
Use some of the remaining plain rose buttercream to smooth a thin layer of icing over the cake - a crumb coat. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes. Finally use the remaining butter cream to put a final coat of icing on top of the crumb coat. Arrange the rose petals on top of the cake and sprinkle with a few remaining pistachio crumbs if desired.