I read a recipe for a Strawberry- Raspberry Cake in the latest issue of Food and Wine magazine. It is a delicious cake that is served in the Friuli region of Italy. It sounded so good, except given the time we are living in, I did not have the required ingredients at hand. So here is my version, a delicious blackberry cake inspired by the original. It is sooooooo delicious!
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp packed orange zest
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 heaped cup fresh blackberries
Confectioners sugar for dusting
Baking spray to prepare baking tins
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and spray the bottom and sides liberally with baking spray.
2. Wash and dry the blackberries. Take a few of them and slice in half. Leave the rest whole.
2. Fit the paddle blade to the stand mixer and combine the sugar, butter, and salt at medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Add in the vanilla extract and orange zest and give it a whirl.
5. Add both the flours and beat a few times till the mixture is smooth.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and even it out.
7. Arrange the blackberries all over the top.
8. Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes or till the top is golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
9. Cool the cake completely. Sprinkle with a dusting of confectioners sugar. Slice into 12 pieces and serve with a cup of coffee.
Not too long ago, I tried to make a decadent Rasmalai cake that was created by the very talented Melissa Clark. It was a work of labor and love. More recently, looking at the aisles of Rosogolla in the Indian store sparked an interesting thought. What would happen if I somehow weaved store brought Rosogollas into a tres leches style cake batter with some rasmalai flavors infused in?
That is the experiment that went down in my kitchen tonight. I started with making a tres leches cake base, swapping in cardamom for the vanilla. When the cake batter was ready, I folded in sliced Rosogollas (I squeezed out their sugar syrup first), baked the cake and gave the final touch – a soak in a tres leches (three milks) concoction flavored with saffron, cardamom and crushed pistachios.
My parents were over the moon happy, their neighbors delighted with this unexpected gift and me? I was just beaming because yet another idea came to life beautifully! Here’s how this cake came together.
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tsps cardamom
12 small store bought Rosogollas (I bought a can of Bikaner mini Rosogollas)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 can condensed milk
4 strands of saffron, crushed
1/8 cup shelled pistachios, toasted and crushed
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tbsp ghee or butter for prepping pan
1 tbsp flour for prepping pan
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush a 9×13 inch pan with one tbsp of ghee or butter and dust it with the tbsp of flour.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and cardamom (two tsps) in a bowl.
3. Slice the Rosogollas in half, gently squeeze out the sugar syrup and set it aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together until nice and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat till blended.
4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, and mix till the ingredients are blended.
5. Fold in the Rosogolla slices into the cake batter.
6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or till the top of the cake is light brown and a cake tester comes out clean.
7. Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes all over the cake with a wooden skewer or toothpick and set aside to cool.
8. Prepare the tres leches mixture by mixing the half and half, 2% milk, condensed milk, saffron, pistachios, and 1/2 tsp cardamom in a bowl.
9. Pour the tres leches mixture over the cake.
Enjoy every milk infused crumb and be transported to flavor nirvana!
We all have rituals that make us smile. For my husband, it is the act of eating a single piece of the Indian sweet Rasmalai which never fails to put a smile on his face. So when Melissa Clark from the New York Times converted this sweet into a cake for a good friend, I absolutely had to recreate it in my kitchen.
Just a quick primer on Rasmalai. It literally translates into “Ras” meaning juice and “malai” meaning cream. It’s a dessert made with homemade cheese and served in a milk-based syrup flavored with rosewater, cardamom and sometimes saffron.
What Melissa did is absolutely brilliant and I continue to learn and be inspired by the art and science of this creation. Mirroring the inspiration is accomplished through the beautiful art of layering flavors. The cakes are subtly flavored with cardamom and rose water, then get a soak of milk that is infused with cardamom, followed by a sandwiching process with rose water flavored ricotta filling and a final, stylish flourish of creamy, mascarpone frosting that has a subtle flavor of rose water.
And here’s the final end product staged with a topping of dried rose petals and pistachios. A sight to behold and a beautiful treat to devour.
As you might have guessed by now, you’ve got to tell yourself the calories are not real and simply a figment of your imagination:)
If you’d like to recreate this, here’s the link to the recipe I followed.
PS. I do want to thank all the readers/experimenters of the original recipe who generously shared their learnings. This was instrumental in turning my creation out beautifully!