Pistachio and Rose Water Semolina Cake
Making this cake, which is adapted from "Sweet," by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, is a labor of love, but that’s only appropriate, for a cake adorned with rose petals. If you want to save time, however, you can do without the petals or use store-bought dried rose petals — the cake and cream are both special enough for those you feed to know you love them. If you are going all out with the roses, red or pink petals are a matter of preference; the red petals will turn a deep purple once candied. The cake keeps well for up to five days, but the petals should be sprinkled over just before serving. And don't confuse rose water and rose essence: the difference is huge. You want to use rose water here, and in brazen amounts, but it’s what makes the cake both distinct and delicious.
- Serves: 10 persons
- 1large egg white
- About 40 medium pesticide-free red or pink rose petals (from about 2 roses)
- 2tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1cup/150 grams shelled pistachios, plus 2 tablespoons, finely chopped, for serving
- ½teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1cup/100 grams almond meal
- ¾cup plus 3 tablespoons/170 grams fine semolina flour
- 1 ¼teaspoons baking powder
- ¼teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼cups plus 1 tablespoon/300 grams unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon), at room temperature and cubed, plus extra for greasing the pan
- 1 ⅔cups/330 grams granulated sugar
- 4large eggs, lightly beaten
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 1 teaspoon), plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2tablespoons rose water (not rose essence)
- ½teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾cup/190 grams plain Greek yogurt
- ¾cup/200 grams crème fraîche
- 1tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- 1tablespoon rose water
- ½cup/120 milliliters lemon juice
- ⅓cup/80 milliliters rose water
- ½cup/100 grams granulated sugar
Step 1Heat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit/100 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease a 9-inch/23-centimeter round springform pan and line with parchment paper.
Step 2Make the candied rose petals, if desired: Whisk egg white by hand until frothy. Then, using a small pastry brush or paintbrush, very lightly paint both sides of each petal with egg white; do this in a few small batches, brushing and then sprinkling the sugar lightly over both sides of each petal. Shake off excess sugar and lay petals on the lined baking sheet. Place in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, until dry and crunchy, then set aside to cool.
Step 3Make the cake: Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/180 degrees Celsius.
Step 4Combine pistachios and cardamom in a food processor. Process until the nuts are finely ground, then transfer to a bowl. Add almond meal, semolina, baking powder and salt. Mix together and set aside.
Step 5Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fully combined, but take care not to overwork it; you don’t want to incorporate a lot of air into the mixture. With the machine still running, slowly add 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 mixture will curdle once the eggs are added, but don’t worry; this will not affect the end result.
Step 6Remove the bowl from the machine and add the dry ingredients, folding them in by hand and, again, taking care not to overmix. Next fold in lemon zest, lemon juice, rose water and vanilla extract and scrape the batter into the pan. Level with an offset spatula and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean but oily.
Step 7While the cake is in the oven, make the rose cream: Place all the ingredients for the cream in a bowl and whisk to beat everything together for about 2 minutes, until thick. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Step 8Make the rose syrup: About 10 minutes before the cake comes out of the oven (you want the syrup to be warm when the cake is ready), place all the ingredients for the syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a 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.
Step 9As 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 with finely chopped pistachios and set the cake aside in its pan to come to room temperature. Remove from pan and scatter rose petals over the cake. Serve immediately, with a generous spoonful of rose cream alongside. (The cake keeps well for up to 5 days in an airtight container. The rose petals should be sprinkled over just before serving.)