Cake Design: It’s Raining Petals!

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I could write a whole novel about this week’s cake. Not only did I find my new favorite vanilla sponge recipe courtesy of Gretchen’s Bakery, but I experimented with rosewater for the first time! If I had a dollar for every time I found myself staring at the bottle and contemplating whether or not to buy it I could afford to sleep on a bed of roses. Jon Bon Jovi style.

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I’m not very cultured. I had no idea that rosewater is often used in Middle Eastern and European desserts until I saw someone using it on The Great British Bake Off. Mary Berry made a point to mention that little bit goes a long way, and I’m so glad that I took that advice while making this cake because that shiz is strong. It’s funny because when I was browsing recipes trying to figure out how I wanted to use it, I kept seeing the same facts repeated over and over: “Rose essence is 3 times as strong as rosewater, so you should use 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of rosewater for every 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of rose essence!”

No. Just don’t even listen to that. Especially if you’ve never baked with rosewater and you’re not sure if you (or your guests) will like it. This is not the time to be livin’ on a prayer and putting it in every component of your cake. These five words I swear to you: It’ll taste like bad medicine.

I’m so sorry.  😛

This week’s cake consisted of:

  • Two six-inch vanilla sponge cake layers (recipe linked above) that I leveled and torted to create four layers.
  • A rosewater simple syrup that I created by heating one cup (200 g) of granulated sugar and one cup (8 oz) of water, plus 2-3 drops of rosewater. Like 1/8th of a teaspoon. It was enough, I promise. The simple syrup was immediately fragrant.
  • Homemade rosewater-infused  strawberry jam. This particular recipe makes four jars so I just divided by four to make one jar’s worth. People who refuse to buy a scale: Use a 1:1 ratio of fruit and sugar. Follow the rest of the directions and then add drops of rosewater until you’re happy! But seriously, get a scale. I promise Twitchy won’t steal it.
  • Whipped white chocolate ganache and some fresh roses for the top.

Design and Assembly:

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Step 1: First things first, get your stuff together. You can see my simple syrup far left, then going clockwise you see the homemade jam, ganache (that I let sit overnight so I didn’t repeat last week’s snafu), and my cake layers. The (unwhipped) ganache is there because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fill one of the layers with it. I decided not to in the end. Once all of your layers are built, place the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes or so to firm it up.

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Step 2: Meanwhile, whip your ganache. Here it is after whipping it for approximately two minutes with a hand mixer. It becomes a lot lighter and fluffier—almost the consistency of a good buttercream.

Step 3: Cover your cake in the whipped ganache. Since whipped ganache has a consistency similar to buttercream it may be a little difficult to get it smooth. Just keep going over it until you’re happy. You’ll be covering 2/3 of it with petals anyway! I also noticed that I got a smoother look when I dipped my spatula in hot water, dried it off, then slowly made my way around the cake. It helped some of those lines and bumps all blend together, leaving a smoother finish.

Step 4: Take a spoon or two of leftover whipped ganache and color it a dusty rose color. If you don’t have a dusty rose color in your arsenal, just mix together some pink and a tiny bit of brown. I used a toothpick to put the tiniest amounts of color into my ganache and then adjusted until I was happy with it.

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Step 5: Using an icing spatula or the back of a spoon, scoop up a tiny amount of icing just on the tip. Then, using a quick upward motion, apply it to the cake. Keep the majority of these swipes toward the bottom third of the cake and work your way around.

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Step 6: Once finished, add some more leftover white ganache to your remaining dusty rose color. This will lighten it up significantly and add more depth to your petals.

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Step 7: Use this new color to fill in some of the gaps where there is no petals, but also place some a bit higher so that you create a sort of ombre effect with lighter petals at the top and darker ones at the bottom. Don’t go out of your way to try and avoid the dark petals. Going over the dark color with the lighter color actually adds more dimension and makes it look more realistic.

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Step 8: Once finished, add your roses and whatever else to the top of your cake. I really have no advice here other than to keep messing with it until you’re happy. I probably changed the arrangement five times, two times while in the middle of photographing my “finished” cake! I’m very picky. 😛 Good thing I had the tiniest amount of ganache leftover so I could somewhat smooth out the top again.

And there you have it!


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This cake is a real show stopper that would look gorgeous on any sweet table. I’m thinking this would be a really cute cake for a small wedding with less than 15 guests, or even just for a wedding shower. You could opt for different petal colors and replicate any flower you want. Or perhaps you could multicolored petals for a sort of confetti look on an elegant birthday cake. You get the idea.

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I guess I should probably start thinking about my next cake now. The weeks go by way too fast.

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Until next time 🙂


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