Monday, January 26, 2009

A Good Cake Indeed

Yesterday I mentioned that I baked a cake, and I feel that I simply must bring it up again.

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From the moment my eyes finished grazing the ingredient list, I knew I'd like it. So it only seemed appropriate to spend some time on Sunday afternoon baking a cake with my roommate, who is very eager to learn how to bake and has elected me as her know-it-all resource (eek!).

One of my favorite cakes has an almond flour base, so I knew Nigel Slater was on to something when he added pistachios and rosewater to his cake.

I know you might not all agree when you hear the word "rose water" (ahem, Mom, I'm thinking of you) because roses and lavender and such are supposed to be smelled and not digested, but I have been enjoying every drop of my bottle of rose water. And that's the key. Just a drop or a splash can add a sweet undertone to a dish. It reminds me of English tea gardens and baklava and lassi and corners of the world I'm wishing to see.

While I'm getting all dreamy, let me tell you about a dreamy book I've been thumbing through lately. It's Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries, and it earns its "dreaminess" through each turn of the sturdy warmly cream-colored pages. Photographs are smoothly printed in a matte finish throughout the book, and they include plenty of shots of Nigel's equally dreamy garden. The layout and font choices are clean and simple, which matches his casual and inviting writing style perfectly. Not to mention the recipes.

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Oh, the recipes. Some of them, frankly, I don't think I'll ever attempt (no thanks, oxtail) but I've also been surprised to find myself drawn to a radish, mint, and feta salad (I'm still learning to appreciate radishes). And then there is a countless number of winners. From simple salads to pastas to trifles that make my mouth water, I'm reluctant to hand this book back over to my local library.

But let's not forget about that cake.

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Rose and Pistachio Cake
Adapted from Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries

Serves 12.

Cake:
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) and 2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar (fair trade, please)
3 large eggs
2/3 cup shelled pistachios
2/3 cup ground almonds
2 small lemons
1/3 cup white grape juice
1-1/4 teaspoons rose water
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Icing:
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice (can be squeezed from lemons above)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a non-stick 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper.

Prepare by grinding your pistachios into fine crumbs in a food processor (or in small qualities in a coffee grinder, as I did), and zest and squeeze your lemons dry.

Now, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Add almonds, pistachios, butter, and sugar to bowl and mix. Set aside 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for icing and add remaining amount along with white grape juice and rosewater to mixture. Lately, fold in flour with a large spoon or spatula.

Scoop mixture into the lined baking pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, covering lightly with foil for the last ten minutes.

Check cake by inserting skewer into center. If it comes out fairly clean, then take out and let it cool completely in the pan. Run a knife around the edge and turn it out.

For icing, sift sugar into lemon juice and mix together with a fork until smooth. Pour over cake and leave for half an hour to set.

3 comments:

Cooking for Comfort by Jennifer said...

I don't know that I've ever had rosewater in anything...but it sounds (and looks) like a divine addition to this cake!!!!

Glad you are savoring every drop of the rosewater...it sounds like an ingredient I'd like to try!!!!

pinkstripes said...

Oh, man. Your cake sounds delicious. I bought rose water recently to use in a recipe. I'll have to try this cake.

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Super! I'm going to try this - I always love cakes with rosewater.