It's not often that I turn my hand to fancy cake decorating - I'm usually happy with a dusting of icing sugar or a drizzle of glacé icing. However, the challenge of producing a cake on the theme of 'In Bloom!' for a Clandestine Cake Club meeting spurred me on to decorate the cake too. I used fondant icing and gel colouring to produce a simple ribbon effect, and added a few dried rose petals and chopped pistachio nuts for added visual appeal. I think, later in the year, crystallised fresh rose petals would look very pretty, and for the more artistic sugarcrafters, flowers made from fondant icing could be added.
I used the basic Madeira Cake style recipe I made recently, and added 2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey rose water, 50g chopped pistachio nuts, 100g chopped dark chocolate flavoured with raspberry and 10g of freeze dried raspberry pieces (a whole tube of supermarket own brand).
Using floral essences in baking is difficult - too much and the perfume overwhelms the flavour and makes the cake taste of Granny's toiletries, too little and the subtleness of the floral notes is lost. I was happy with the level of rose flavour in my cake, but I know that different brands of rose water differ in strength, so it's something that each baker needs to judge for themselves if trying a similar cake.
At the Clandestine Cake club meeting there were several other cakes also flavoured with rose, the most ambitious of which was a layer cake with Turkish delight flavours - lemon, rose, pistachio and vanilla layers with lemon cream filling and rose frosting. This was delicious, but very rich! One of the more unusual cakes was a chocolate cake with a cream filling flavoured with parma violets - an interesting combination! Lavender and elderflower flavours were also used in cakes, and some cake-makers chose to interpret the theme visually - decorating cakes with flowers, or to look like a flower pot with buds beginning to show through, in the case of one ambitious baker!
The raspberry chocolate I used in the cake was from the Divine range of Fairtrade chocolate. It's currently Fairtrade Fortnight, and this year the campaign is focusing on Breakfast. This cake isn't breakfast food, but using Fairtrade chocolate does give me an excuse to mention the organisation! Read about the aims of the Fairtrade foundation here.
This is the sort of cake which probably should be promoted for a celebration of Mother's Day tomorrow, but as I made it myself, and what was left for us to eat after Cake Club has long gone, it's not being used as such here. Let's call it a celebration of the coming Spring!