I do love a good three day weekend. I was still sitting on the sofa in my pyjamas at 10.30 this morning. I had a doughnut for breakfast and am contemplating nothing more today than a quick trip to the garden centre to replace the lavender that I managed to kill (clearly, I’m having some mixed successes when it comes to my balcony garden…).
I appreciate a long weekend at any time of year but there’s something particularly splendid about this first one in May. In the last week or two, it feels like we’ve definitely segued from spring to early summer. Even on days like today when it’s a little overcast and threatening to rain, it’s still warm enough to go without a coat.
In celebration of this glorious time of year, I’m taking part in a little virtual potluck today, organised by the lovely Renee of Will Frolic for Food. The theme of the potluck is edible flowers which are not, I have to admit, something that I’ve used very often in my cooking before now. Thankfully, some of my favourite bloggers have come together to share a collection of really inspiring recipes – links below; I have my eye on those ricotta and basil stuffed nasturtiums – and it’s really opened my eyes to the world of floral flavours that I’ve been missing out on for all these years.
My contribution to the potluck is this rose cake with roasted strawberry buttercream. In recent years, I’ve fallen more and more in love with the gentle scent of rose and here, it lends a little bit of interest to what is a fairly simple cake. It has the merest hint of rose water; enough to notice but not so much that you feel like you’re eating a bar of soap which is always my fear. For the frosting, I made a swiss meringue buttercream which is, admittedly, a little bit of effort but always worth it. It’s much less sweet than traditional buttercream and the texture is pretty dreamy. It’s swirled through with a roasted strawberry puree; a touch of balsamic vinegar heightens the natural flavor of the fruit. All together, it’s pretty much everything I want in cake.
SWEET: Salted Lavender Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies (via Baking Magique) // Strawberry Lilac Pavlovas (via Dunk and Crumble) // Coconut Golas (Indian Shaved Ice on a Stick) in a Hibiscus Syrup (via EGeeDee) // Mini Pistachio-Rose Olive Oil Cakes with Lemon-Chamomile Whipped Cream (via Fix Feast Flair) // Hwajeon: Sweet Matcha Rice Cakes with Fresh Flowers and Honey Syrup (via Ginger and Toasted Sesame) // Breakfast Sweet Potato with Hibiscus Tea Yogurt & Turmeric Granola (via Vegetarian Ventures) // Lilac Lemon Grapefruit Sherbet (via Will Frolic for Food) // Lime, Mango and Elderflower Cake (via Top with Cinnamon) // Rose Hokkaido Cupcakes (via le jus d’orange) // Hibiscus, Rhubarb and Yogurt Ice Pops (via The Bojon Gourmet) // Chamomile Honeycomb Ice Cream (via Snixy Kitchen) // Rustic Rhubarb, Strawberry & Chamomile Galette (Gluten Free) (via Vidya Living) // Flourless Chocolate Cake with Orange Blossom Water & Strawberry Champagne Sauce (via A Brown Table)
SAVOURY: Lentil Salad with Browned Butter Baby Turnips, Sourdough Bits, Soft Boiled Egg, Micro Greens + Marigold (via Earthy Feast) // Ricotta & Basil Stuffed Nasturtiums (via Kale and Caramel) // An Edible Flower Luncheon (via Bread + Barrow)
DRINKS: Raspberry Rose Fizz (via A Little Saffron)
I don’t often make swiss meringue buttercream because it involves thermometers and standing around whisking (and an obscene amount of butter but we’ll gloss over that one). Whenever I do make it, I wonder why I don’t make it more often though because it makes such a difference both in terms of flavor/texture but also in terms of ease of use. Roasting the strawberries with a touch of balsamic vinegar really amps up the flavor. It’s particularly useful at this time of year when my excitement at the early fruit that we get isn’t generally matched by their taste. The cake is a fairly basic sponge mix; you can use plain flour instead of the rice flour if you want.
- 160g (1 1/3 cups) rice flour
- 1 tablespoon corn flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- 175g (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 175g (3/4 cup) unrefined caster/granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon rose water (or a little more, if you like)
- 400g (about 1 cup) strawberries, hulled and halved
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 egg whites
- 175g (3/4 cup) white sugar (to keep the colour pink rather than brown)
- 300g (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, a little cooler than room temperature
- Edible rose petals, to decorate
- Start by preparing the strawberries. Drizzle them with honey and balsamic vinegar and roast at 180C/350F for about 35 minutes until soft and slightly frazzled around the edges. When cool, thrown them into a food processor and blast until smooth. If you like, you can sieve out the lumps (I don’t generally bother). Set aside until needed.
- To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180C/350F (or whatever you generally bake cakes at) and grease four 7-inch tins with butter. You can use the same amount of batter in 6-inch tins too or increase it to a 4-egg mix and use 8-inch tins.
- In one bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until the butter has become pale and the mixture is super light and fluffy. Gently whisk the eggs with the rose water in a mug and gradually add it to the butter/sugar mix. I usually go a tablespoon at a time to prevent curdling and make sure the egg has been fully incorporated before adding the next. Finally fold through the dry ingredients with a gentle but firm hand, trying not to knock too much air out of it. Divide the batter between the tins and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
- When the cake has cooled, make the frosting. Place the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan with an inch of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water or you might end up with scrambled eggs. Heat the butter sugar until 70C/160F, whisking all the time. This will take longer than you expect. Once it hits the magic temperature, remove from the heat and beat with an electric whisk or stand mixer until stiff peaks form and the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch; at least 5 minutes if not longer. Add the butter, little by little, beating to incorporate after each addition. Finally fold through the strawberry puree.
- Place the bottom layer of the cake on a plate or cake stand with strips of greaseproof paper all round the edges to protect the base. Dollop a generous spoonful of frosting on top of the layer and smooth to the edges. Put another layer of cake on top and continue with the dolloping/layering. Once the cake is assembled, cover with a thin layer of frosting (the crumb coat) and chill for half an hour until dry to the touch. Finally generous spread the rest of the frosting over the cake and decorate with edible flowers.