Roses are a universal favourite, so beautiful and diverse in form and colour and often so sweetly scented. My grandfather was a keen rose grower and had the best rose garden I’ve ever seen – perhaps I’m a little biased here, but it was a long time ago that I last saw it and the memory just gets better and better! Anyway, because I loved my grandfather, roses hold a very special place in my heart and, I have to say, in my stomach too.
Having set the rose challenge, I really wanted to try and use roses to their full extent, but wasn’t sure I’d have time to make what I had in mind. The plum and rose traybake I made as a fall back was delicious, but only had rosewater in it. I’d set my heart on some ultra rosy cupcakes using rose in four different ways: rose sugar, rose water, rosehip syrup and crystallised roses. To complete the theme, I also had some rose paper cases hiding in the cupboard.
This was a day long process and here’s how I made them with a few disasters on the way:
- First thing in the morning picked the one and only rose bloom in the garden, which had fortuitously opened at just the right time.
- Painted the petals with egg white then dipped them in a bowl of caster sugar.
- Put on a rack to dry and left in a warm airy place for as long as possible (ideally these would have been done the day before, but I just crossed fingers & hoped for the best).
- Made a big batch of rosehip syrup with 1 kilo of rose hips that we’d harvested last year and had been taking up room in the freezer ever since.
- Simmered them in 1.5 litres of water for a good half hour, mashing the fruit as it cooked.
- Strained through a muslin cloth and left to drip for about six hours – overnight would have been much better, but I wasn’t that organised.
- Simmered the juice with 500g unrefined granulated sugar for about 1/2 an hour until lightly syrupy.
- Poured into bottles and sealed.
- Made some rose sugar by blitzing, in a coffee grinder, 125g sugar with a handful of red scented roses I’d dried previously.
- Melted 125g unsalted butter with 100g 35% milk chocolate (G&B) in a large pan.
- Stirred in 125g rose sugar.
- Beat in 2 duck eggs (one being the remainder of the one used to paint the rose leaves).
- Sifted in 150g flour (half wholemeal and half white), 1 small tsp of baking powder and a pinch of bicarb.
- Stirred in 2 tbsp no fat Greek yogurt.
- Stirred in 1 tbsp of rosewater.
- Spooned into 12 muffin cases and baked at 180C for 18 minutes.
- Turned out on a rack to cool.
- Creamed 50g unsalted butter with 100g icing sugar.
- Decided it would be a good idea to use some of our homemade creme fraiche – big mistake!
- Added 1 tbsp rose hip syrup and 2 tbsp creme fraiche and tried to beat into the butter cream.
- This did not have the desired effect. I ended up making sweetened cultured butter and a load of sweet buttermilk – interesting, but not what I’d intended.
- Drained the buttermilk from the butter and started again.
- Creamed this second lot of butter with a further 100g icing sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in 1 tbsp of rosehip syrup.
- Spread this over the cooled cakes.
- Sprinkled with a small amount of pink sugar.
- Topped with the few petals that had sort of crystallised.
The syrup was rather disappointing in colour but although fairly sweet, it had a lovely fragrant flavour. The last time I made it I’m sure it was orange rather than brown and it I’m pretty sure it wasn’t so sweet. However, the upside to this, is that it should last well and hopefully keep all those autumnal coughs and colds at bay.
Although the rose petals had lost their scent by the time I used them, I was hoping for a nice pink sugar, but as you can see from the picture, that didn’t really happen. I’ll know for future reference that more petals are needed.
Despite the various disappointments and problems encountered along the way, these cupcakes were truly delicious – chocolatey and definitely rosy. The cakes were light and moist with both the chocolate and rose flavours nicely balanced. They had a fantastic texture with a particularly smooth mouth feel. The creme fraiche topping carried the fragrance of the rosehip syrup nicley. Perfect cupcakes for summer and they kept well too.
Here are a few other things I’ve made using rose as a flavouring.