Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rose Petal Pound Cake

Last summer, I was at my sister's house and she offered me a slice of rose petal angel food cake. A gift from a friend, the cake was everything an angel food cake should be, just more interesting. The cake had a very subtle rose smell and there were bits of rose petals throughout. I was enamoured of this cake, and it was the reason I bought 5 rose bushes at the end of the summer.

This summer, only one of those rose bushes has made it through the winter, but what a glorious specimen it is. Known as "Salet", this rose originally came from France and is very fragrant, but in a nice way. The rose bush is already on its second round of blossoms, but let me assure you that the first round didn't go to waste.

My neighbour Nancy is a first-rate gardener and has encouraged my green thumb, inviting me to horticultural society meetings and giving me bits of advice. Last week, when my special little rose bush was just starting to flower, Nancy and I stood out on the sidewalk admiring the beautiful pink buds and petals. She was looking at the rose bush with a gardener's eye, while I was looking at the same plant with something totally different in mind. "Do you think the petals will be OK to...." The look of shock on her face made me double over with laughter. She guessed what was on my mind.

I made two rose petal cakes this week. The first was an angel food cake that really didn't turn out all that well. Angel food cakes seem to be tricky and, unless you are making them all the time and you have mastered the knack, there is plenty of room for errors. The second cake was my new favourite. I have made one plain pound cake and one rose petal pound cake. To achieve excellent results with a pound cake, there are a number of rules you should be adhering to. I hope I have included most of them in the directions for the recipe. I also added a little rose water to give the cake a little more fragrance - not too much, please.

I used a 2-piece tube pan and during the first 20 minutes of baking time, the batter leaked out onto the tray beneath (I at least learned something from the first time I made the cake and placed a pan underneath). I want to get a 1-piece tube pan, light in colour, that will suit this cake perfectly. Something to keep in mind is the greasing and flouring of the pan. Do not rush and miss any spots. You will see them when the cake comes out of the pan (or doesn't come out of the pan in parts).

Enjoying your roses, either in the garden or in a cake, is one of summer's special pleasures. I hope to enjoy my roses, in and out of the kitchen, for many weeks to come!

Rose Petal Pound Cake

12 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature + more for greasing the pan
3 cups all purpose flour + more for dusting the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon rose water
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup or more of untreated rose petals, gently washed and patted dry, roughly chopped

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously grease a light-coloured 10" tube pan with butter. Add couple tablespoons of flour to the pan and shake the flour until it coats the pan evenly. Tap out any excess flour and set aside. The inside of the pan should be smoothly and evenly coated with butter and flour. Any gaps or clumps that you have will affect the end result of your cake.

2. Sift the 3 cups of flour, with the baking soda and salt, 3 times. Combine the milk, vanilla, and rose water.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium-low speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, about a 1/4 cup at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beat until satiny smooth, about 3 minutes.

4. Add one egg at a time to the butter mixture, beating for 15 seconds after each one. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour alternately with the milk, in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat just until the batter is smooth and silky. Gently fold the chopped rose petals into the batter.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and firmly tap on a counter to allow the batter to settle evenly. Bake until light golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Invert cake onto a rack and let cool completely before slicing.