This past weekend I needed a break from our dystopian reality and decided to make a cake for my mom’s birthday. I wanted something that would evoke who she is, sweet but practical, and not too mushy. I’ve been dying to adapt Melissa Clark’s Cardamom and rosewater cake, So I thought this was the best occasion to try it! My cake has a super light cream cheese frosting adorned with candied rose petals and salted pistachios and filled with rosewater pastry cream, as an ode to my mom’s practical personality.
First, I want to talk about what failed:
Melissa’s recipe asks for a mascarpone frosting and a ricotta and rosewater filling which I completely failed to achieve. My ricotta filling was too runny and my mascarpone frosting curled..sigh (mascarpone is not CHEAP and I am a girl on a budget! ).
So, here’s my adaptation of Cardamom and Rosewater cake, this cake still uses a milk syrup infused with cardamom pods, cinnamon, and rosewater that would leave your cake moist and soft for weeks, I think, my cake lasted ½ a day ‘cause we ate it!
Rosewater pastry cream adapted from Kitchn
1 ½ cups whole milk, heavy cream, or a mix
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks * save the egg white for the cake
1 ½ teaspoon of rosewater
For the milk syrup:
2 cups whole milk
6 cardamom pods
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Rosewater to taste
Cake:Note on cake: This cake requires cake flour which I never have on hand ‘cause NY apartments are large shoe boxes and I only have space for bulk AP and bread flour so, for every cup of cake flour take two Tb spoons of AP and substitute with Tb of cornstarch. Or even easier add 2 Tb of cornstarch to the measuring cup and then add the AP.
12 tablespoons(1 1/2 sticks), more for greasing pan of unsalted butter
3 cups of cake flour, more for flouring pan * see note above.
4 large egg whites * save the egg yolk for the pastry cream
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon rose water
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 package of cream cheese
½ cup of powdered sugar * more if needed.
½ teaspoon of vanilla
½ teaspoon of rosewater
½ teaspoon of ground cardamom
Candied Rose Petals
2 organic roses (Noone wants to eat pesticides)
1 Egg white
2Tb os sugar
Putting it all together.
Rosewater pastry cream * I followed the same directions from Kitchn
- Warm the milk: Warm the milk in the saucepan until you start to see wisps of steam. It should not actually be boiling.
- Make the egg-sugar base: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the egg yolks and whisk them into the dry ingredients. This will form a thick paste. It’s fine if the paste looks crumbly or smooth; the important thing is that the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- Add the milk to the egg mixture: Pour a little of the hot milk into the eggs and whisk to combine. Continue pouring the milk slowly into the eggs, whisking continuously. It’s OK to switch back and forth between pouring milk and whisking if you can’t manage both at the same time.
- Pour everything back in the pan: When all the milk has been added to the eggs, pour everything back into the saucepan. Set a strainer over a bowl and place this near the stove.
- Heat the pastry cream: Set the pan back over medium heat. Whisk constantly. At first, the pastry cream will look very thin and frothy, but it will start to thicken after a few minutes. When it has thickened to a pudding-like consistency, pause whisking every few seconds to see if the cream has come to a boil. If you see large bubbles popping on the surface, whisk for a few more seconds and then remove the pan from heat.
- Strain and cool the pastry cream: Stir the vanilla into the pastry cream and then pour the cream into the strainer set over the bowl. Stir to push it through the strainer. This will catch any bits of cooked egg that may be in your pastry cream.
- Cover and store: Cover the pastry cream with a piece of plastic wrap pressed right up against the surface of the cream and chill completely.