Who wants to be stuck in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove in the summer? Not me. But I do like a summery bake or two. These raspberry rose friands are a good compromise. They’re full of summer flavour, quick to prepare and only take twenty minutes in the oven.
A rose by any other name would taste as sweet, to misquote Shakespeare. We have one rose bush in the garden, it’s in a shady spot and rarely produces more than two or three blooms. But what fabulous blooms they are. The rose is red with a heavy scent and it makes fantastic rose syrup. Now I have a dehydrator, I thought I’d have a go at drying rose petals this year.
Of all the biscuits I made in my epic Christmas bake last year, these pistachio biscuits made with almonds and flavoured with a little rose, cardamom and cinnamon were the ones that received the most rave reviews. So *drum roll* I’m finally going to give you the recipe. It’s the next in my Flavours of the Middle East series.
I’m often asked for my rose syrup recipe and although it’s on the blog, it’s hidden in a summer cocktail post, so is hard to find. As it’s such a glorious concoction and now is the best season to make and use it, time for its very own moment in the spotlight, methinks.
In my youth, when it was rare to know anyone who had travelled abroad, I was a lot more adventurous than I am now. At just eighteen I set off to work in a Swiss hotel in order to learn French, something I hadn’t managed to pick up at school. At various times I hitchhiked from home to France, to Spain and to Switzerland and when I had only just turned seventeen I went to stay with relatives of relatives in Egypt for a month.
Before Christmas, I was sent vouchers to buy some Greek Gods yogurt to try. However, it was a few weeks before I was able to get to a store that sells them, which was no bad thing given the amount of Christmas baking I ended up doing. Greek Gods yogurt is all about the honey. There is something about thick creamy yogurt and honey which speaks to me of the Middle East. It is a thick Greek style yogurt and is quite delicious as a dessert in its own right. There is no mistaking the honey flavour which comes through quite strongly; I find it very pleasant. The yogurt is a little too sweet for me to eat on my morning muesli; I prefer plain yogurt best for this purpose. On reading the ingredients I noticed there is added sugar as well as honey. Does it really need both? Served with fruit or with puddings instead of cream, however, it would work splendidly. The texture is quite firm, almost solid but smooth and creamy too. It reminded me of the yogurts I used to eat in Switzerland, which were quite different to those then found in the UK.
The Greek Gods range is available at Sainsbury’s stores nationwide and retails at £1.99 for a 450g pot and 99p for a 175g one.
I chose a 450g pot of their honey yogurt, a 175g pot of honey and vanilla and a 175g pot of honey and walnut. Any of these yogurts, including the honey and clementine which I didn’t buy, would work well I thought in a yogurt semolina cake recipe. However, it was the honey and walnut version that particularly grabbed my attention and it whispered seductively: basbousa.
When I lived in Egypt many years ago, one of my favourite sweet treats was basbousa – a syrupy cake made with semolina and honey. In the sweet shop I particularly favoured, it was served with something that was suspiciously like clotted cream. My Arabic was never good enough to find out exactly what it was, but that’s my bet and I do know something about clotted cream. I’ve tried on a number of occasions to recreate the wonder that was basbousa, but I’ve never managed it. This could of course be false memory syndrome and nostalgia getting in the way. Whatever the reason, I now have a particular fondness for yogurt semolina cakes. I made one recently as part of a 60th birthday celebration and it proved to be popular.
Traditionally, basbousa is made without eggs and is quite a dense cake. I thought I’d try making a lighter textured version, so included eggs and a little flour. I decided to use white chocolate, which I’ve found works really well in cakes. I reduced the amount of butter and sugar needed accordingly. Nuts are generally used for decoration and are not included in the actual bake, but inspired by the Greek Gods honey and walnut yogurt, I thought walnuts would marry well with the flavours of honey, lemon and rose.
And I was right. the walnut yogurt worked brilliantly in this cake. The result was a substantial yet light cake which was moist with a slightly chewy texture. Not surprisingly it tasted of honey and walnuts. Any self respecting Greek god would be delighted to tuck into this on Mount Olympus. We had to make do with Bodmin Moor, but there are compensations; we ate ours with clotted cream. Proper Job.
I was sent some vouchers to buy Greek Gods yogurt. There was no requirement to write a positive review. As always, all opinions are my own.
This is my tribute to basbousa.
- 100g unsalted butter
- 75g white chocolate
- 200g semolina
- 50g wholemeal flour
- 100g walnuts
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 large eggs
- 175g Greek yogurt (walnut & honey flavour)
- 120g 120g caster sugar (I used cardamom sugar)
- 150 ml water
- 1 tbsp honey
- juice and grated rind lemon
- 1 tbsp rose water
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 slices
Spring, it’s really here at last. Despite the rubbish weather we’ve been having, the hedges are alive with primroses, slightly later than usual but absolutely spectacular. Talking of spectacular flowers, I was recently given a punnet of edible ones from a local grower. The Flower Mill, based just up the road from us (in an old flour mill as it happens), grows chemical free flowers for decoration and also for eating. It’s primarily a mail order business, so anyone in the UK can enjoy bouquets and posies of seasonal Cornish flowers as well as edible flowers to decorate cakes, salads or whatever else grabs their fancy. My punnet contained a collection of borage flowers, violas and different types of primulas. What fun – it was time to play.
Kate has chosen fairy cakes, cupcakes and muffins for this month’s Tea Time Treats and fairy cakes seemed just the thing to showcase the beautiful flowers I’d received. As I like to bake seasonally where I can, rhubarb seemed to be an obvious choice. Now, I don’t know why, but for some reason we’ve been unable to grow rhubarb down at our plot, it used to flourish on our old site. Luckily, my mother grows some in her garden, so it was all systems go.
This is how I made:
Rhubarb, Rose & White chocolate Fairy Cakes
- Peeled and finely chopped 1 stick rhubarb (about 80g).
- Chopped 50g white chocolate (G&B).
- Creamed 75g unsalted butter with 90g golden caster sugar.
- Beat in one duck egg.
- Sifted in 100g flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white), 50g ground almonds, 1 scant teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of bicarbonate of soda.
- Added 1 tbsp yogurt and 1 tsp orange flower water.
- Stirred in the chocolate and rhubarb.
- Spooned into 12 fairy cake cases.
- Baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
- Turned out onto a wire rack and left to cool.
- Stewed a few stems of chopped rhubarb without sugar which made a beautiful pink juice.
- Sifted 100g icing sugar into a bowl.
- Added 1 tsp orange flower water and poured in enough of the rhubarb juice to make a slightly runny icing.
- Spooned over the top of the cakes.
- With gay abandon, decorated the tops with beautiful edible flowers.
Due to the almonds, these veered more towards the dense texture than light and spongy, but, oh, they were delicious. Rhubarb is one of those ingredients that works particularly well in cakes, giving bursts of tartness and flavour in amongst the sweetness. The rhubarb juice gave the icing a tinge of pink which I was pleased with. I used the remaining rhubarb in a breakfast smoothie the following day and it was so good I’m now craving more.
As it happened, the cake cases came away from the cakes, making them look really tatty, so I removed them all together. Thank goodness for the flowers, which made these otherwise plain looking cakes into the real deal – fairy cakes of elegance and beauty. The flowers all had their own flavours and were not only good to look at but were good to eat too. In retrospect I regret not putting some of them into ice-cube trays, but I shall remember that for another time. Cool summer drinks would surely be enhanced with a flower or two floating on the surface. I was told that the flowers can be kept for 2-3 days in the fridge, but I was surprised at just how long they lasted out of the fridge and on the cakes – it was several hours before they showed any sign of wilting.
You can check out the range of options available at The Flower Mill here.
As edible flowers abound, I am also entering these into Herbs on Saturday with Karen of Lavender and Lovage. It just so happens that this month’s prize is Cooking with Edible Flowers.
As I’ve made everything from scratch as usual, I’m sending these off to Made with Love Mondays with Javelin Warrior.
And finally, because rhubarb is in season and I haven’t submitted anything for ages, I’m entering these into Simple & in Season with Ren of Fabulicious Food.
|Violet and Rose Fairy Cakes|
If you like baking or just like eating home baked goodies, then World Baking Day is for you. This year it falls on Sunday the 19th of May. As a World Baking Day ambassador, I was sent a pretty pastel Cath Kidston cake stand and cupcake case set to showcase a recipe or two. I already had a cake planned for Mother’s Day, but still wanted to bake something pretty, floral and spring like to grace my new cake stand.
A while ago, I won a bottle of violet & rose liqueur at a raffle and I’ve been waiting for just such an occasion as this to do something with it. To be honest, it tastes a bit like medicine on its own, but added to a cake it gives an exotic perfumed flavour of Parma violets and rose.
This is how I made:
Violet and Rose White Chocolate Fairy Cakes
- Melted 60g good quality white chocolate with vanilla over a pan of hot water and left to cool slightly.
- Creamed 150g Stork margarine with 150g caster sugar until light and fluffy.
- Added the white chocolate and creamed some more.
- Beat in two duck eggs one at a time (large hens eggs would be fine).
- Sifted in 150g plain flour with 1 teaspoon of baking powder and stirred gently in.
- Added 2 tbsp violet and rose liqueur and stirred gently until just combined.
- Spooned into 12 fairy cakes cases and six mini cases, filling to about 3/4 of the way up.
- Baked at 180C for 20 minutes, then left on a wire rack to cool.
- Melted 40g good quality white chocolate with vanilla over a pan of hot water and left to cool slightly.
- Creamed 50g Stork margarine with 130g icing sugar.
- Beat in the chocolate.
- Beat in 2 tbsp violet and rose liqueur.
- Spread over the cooled cakes and topped with crystallised violets.
The letter for this month’s Alpha Bakes is N. Apart from nuts, I could think of nothing else other than Nonnettes and as I haven’t made any of these wonderful eggless French honey cakes for a while, this seemed like a good opportunity. I decided I’d adapt and use half the amount of the original Nonnette recipe to make 12 smaller cakes using my new muffin cases. A half eaten jar of my mother’s delicious blackcurrant jam was sitting in the cupboard and I still had a bit of rose syrup that really needed using up. Blackcurrant and rose proved to be a nice combination as evinced by the blackcurrant, rose and white chocolate ice-cream I made in the summer.
Here’s what I did:
- Melted 40g unsalted butter in a pan.
- Added 100g local Cornish honey and 50g light brown sugar.
- Turned off the heat and added 50g milk and 50g rose syrup.
- Stirred until smooth then left to cool.
- Sifted 100g plain white flour, 50g rye flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda into a bowl.
- Added the grated zest from 1/2 a small orange.
- Stirred in 25g chopped white chocolate.
- Made a well in the centre and poured in the honey mixture.
- Stirred until just combined.
- Divided the mixture between 12 silicone muffin cases and left in my cold kitchen for half an hour.
- Placed a small teaspoonful of blackcurrant jam on the top of each one.
- Baked at 180C for 16 minutes.
- Left to cool
- Mixed 1 heaped tbsp icing sugar with about a tbsp of rose syrup to form a slightly runny icing.
- Drizzled these over the cakes whilst they were still slightly warm.
These were as good as I imagined they would be, that is to say, thoroughly delicious. They were sweet, sticky and flavoursome with a lovely smooth texture. The blackcurrant was a good strong flavour and its tartness helped to counteract the overall sweetness. CT was surprised by the little bits of white chocolate, but enjoyed them. Licking fingers is an occupational hazard with these, although CT didn’t seem to be unduly bothered.
Chris over at Cooking Around the World has started a new challenge Bloggers Around the World. Sadly I didn’t manage to join in last month with Germany as the selected country. This month, it’s France so I’m submitting these Nonnettes.
As these honey cakes are eggless, I am also submitting them to Cook Eat Delicious Desserts where the theme this month is honey. It is being hosted this month by Nivedhanam.