Suddenly, I’m longing for the fragrance of floral notes, pining for those bewitching perfumes pervading bounteous gardens. Hankerings for hot chocolate and cinnamon laced apple tarts are long gone replaced entirely by a reverie of Spring and all the floral joy it so mercifully brings with it. They implore me to suffuse my desserts with a hint of that flower-laden aroma. Perhaps it is an attempt to cheat myself, into believing that the season of wind and frost has made its journey south, leaving us, Northerners, with warm, languid breezes, the murmers of lush trees and sweet scented hugs. The musing doesn’t end there. The truth is, I also yearn for a luminous summer afternoon, drenched under a burgeon of sunshine, canopies of shade drifting in and out, biting into succulent segments of oranges, a glass of Pinot Grigio in hand, the air chiming with carefree laughter.
It is of these dreams that the Rose, Champagne & Blood Orange Curd cake came to be, coupled with a learning that the fruits of day-dreaming are much too trivialized.
The Rose Water
The aim was to achieve a cake,that was scented with melodious notes of a rose, not one that is barraged with it. The very reason, I chose Rose water instead of a Rose essence(Rose essence can be very strong). I’ll confess, it took me a few attempts to get it right; the flavours never seemed to hit the spot, the perfumes of rose barely thriving, the taste of sugar dominating. However, Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s book ‘Sweet’ came to my rescue one insomniac night. They share a pleasantly aromatic and light Rose Syrup that whips up in a few quick minutes and is drizzled all over warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven cakes. The syrup indubitably spikes up the flavours but also all lends the sponges a delicious moistness after soaking up that floral goodness.
–The Blood Orange
By now, my blood orange madness is quite apparent. I went ahead and made a Vegan Blood Orange Curd to nestle between the layers of cake.The erruption of citrus is undeniable and the orange blends with its accompanying flavours like a gang of best friends.
A cirtus curd has always beckoned me but had remained a perpetual enigma owing to the presence of eggs. But a serendipitous encounter with a recipe from a blog called Mama Sparrow, has been nothing short of a blessing. It is delicious, the taste screaming of oranges alone.
The incorporation of champagne in the buttercream frosting was to spin the flavours with a fresh twist and well, if it comes with a hint of celebration, I’m not one to deny it. Also, it is reminiscent of that above described summer afternoon. A strong Champagne Essence was used to make this happen(I’ve used the one from Wilton Products) but if it is hard to find or you don’t particularly love the scent of champagne, the unrelenting goodness of vanilla never fails to impress.
Every mouthful of this cake effortlessly transported us to a sunshine deluged afternoon. I hope it does you too. Here’s the recipe:)
ROSE WATER AND CHAMPAGNE CAKE WITH VEGAN BLOOD ORANGE CURD
6″ round cake pans- 2#(preferred)
Offset and Straight Spatula(optional)
Hand or Stand Mixer to make Buttercream
Cake board or Cake Stand(Optional)
Piping Bag and a Round Tip
For the Rose Syrup(to be made around 10 minutes before the cake comes out of the oven)
40ml Rose Water
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
For the Rose Water Cake
1.5 cups All purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 cup sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
2-3 green cardamoms powdered with a pinch of sugar
2 tbsp Rose water
6 tbsp Oil (I used canola)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp Vinegar
1 cup Milk
2 tsp of melted butter to line the cake pans
For the Vegan Blood Orange Curd
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3-4 oranges; blood oranges produce a lovely color)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp almond milk cup
1.5 Tbs. cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of one orange
For the Champange flavoured Buttercream
1 cup Unsalted butter that has been softened at room temperature
4 cups of Icing Sugar
6-7 tsp of heavy cream/milk/water
a pinch of salt
1 tsp of Champagne flavoured essence( I used the Wilton product)
For the Rose water cake
Note- The 2 layers can be made at once if two cake pans are at your disposal. Otherwise, they can be made one after the other.
– Preheat the oven to 350F and Prepare the pans.
Cut out two circular parchment papers of 6″ diameter each. Butter the pans entirely(base and sides) with melted butter and place the liners on the base of the pans. Dust the sides with all purpose flour. Keep aside.
-In a medium sized bowl, bring together the dry ingredients and give it a whisk- All purpose Flour, Baking Soda and Granulated Sugar.
-To the dry ingredient mix, add the Oil, Rose water and 1 tbsp of vinegar and mix.
-In a small bowl make buttermilk by adding 1 tsp of vinegar to the milk. Once it curdles, add it to the remaining ingredients.
-Mix well to ensure there are no lumps.
-Transfer the batter to the pans, dividing it equally between the 2 pans.
-Bake for around 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
-Meanwhile, make the Rose Water Syrup around 10 min before the cake comes out of the oven)
-Place all the ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan.
-Boil until the sugar dissolves and remove from heat.
– Once the cake is out of the oven, keep it on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Gently slide a knife along the sides to loosen it from the pan.Then carefully turn the pan upside down onto a tray/plate to make sure it comes out in one piece.
-Drizzle the prepared rose water syrup on the two cakes while they are still warm.
-Cool the cakes completely.
To make the Vegan Blood Orange Curd(The curd needs to be cool while in use and hence it is better to make it the previous day)
-Reduce the orange juice to about half its volume in a saucepan over medium low heat
-While the juice is reducing, measure the milk in a liquid measuring cup. Whisk the cornstarch in the milk till it dissolves. Set aside.
-Once the juice is reduced, add in the sugar and zest. Stir just until the sugar dissolves. Add the milk mixture to the saucepan and use a spatula to mix. Keep on medium-low heat and mix constantly until the texture thickens quickly. If the mixture starts to bubble before thickening, reduce the heat slightly. Once it does thicken, it will be very sudden so stay with you pan. Once the mixture is thickened remove from heat and allow to cool enough to store in a jar or use immediately.
To make the Champagne Buttercream
Note – The frosting can be made with a hand mixer or a stand mixer
-Add the softened butter, heavy cream/milk/water and champagne extract to the mixer bowl and whisk on medium speed for a couple of minutes until the butter is nice, light and fluffy.
-Start adding the sugar, 1 cup at a time. After adding a batch whisk to ensure that the sugar has been incorporated, then add the next cup.
-Once all the sugar has been added, whisk for about 3-4 minutes until the entire mixture is creamy and fluffy.
(I beckoned to myself a couple of piping techniques to create a bit of floral drama and to be honest, just creatively spice up a lazy afternoon. However, a rustic approach with a bunch of fresh flowers will present an unusual charm.)
-A few teaspoons of water may be added to the buttercream and nicely whisked in order to loosen its consistency. A stiff buttercream may prove a disaster to the cake as it can rip the cake apart. If it has a very thin/loose consistency, it can be hard to work with. Therefore, to achieve the right consistency, place buttercream in a tall glass and stick a spatula or a spoon in it. If it moves oh so slightly, it is the perfect consistency.
-Place the cake board on the turntable.
-Place the first layer of the cake on the cake board with a little bit of buttercream so that the cake stays in place while you work on it.
-Pipe(using the round tip) an even amount of buttercream on the cake borders and slather the blood orange curd within the buttercream circle. This border is necessary to hold the curd in place.
-Place the second layer of cake on it. The flat side of the cake should face top.
-Next, add buttercream in excess on the top of the second layer and using an offset spatula spread it all around the top of the cake and push it down to the sides. Using the same spatula, gently slather the sides of the cake with the buttercream(adding more if necessary) until the cake is completely masked.(if the buttercream is resisting the spreading, add a few drops of water to thin it down).
-Alternatively, skip adding buttercream to the sides of the cake. The cake layers held in place by frosting will look just as beautiful.
-The Blood Orange Curd will store in the refrigerator for 1 week or freezer for 3 months. Some settling will occur, give the curd a stir to re-incorporate separating liquids. This serves as a delicious spread on toasts as well.
-The buttercream can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week and used after it has softened at room temperature.
-Recipe for the Rose Water Syrup adapted from Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s ‘Sweet’
-Recipe for the Blood Orange Curd adapted from Mama Sparrow