What better way to spend Tuesday nights than baking?
We had our second Twitter bake along last night. The theme was loaf cakes and there were some great entries and new bakers. It was a lot of fun & I learned loads from making my cake & from the other participants.
I was particularly excited that we have now gone international with an entry from the United States (The Whisk Warrior, welcome to the weird world of British baking). Our star baker was BecksBakes with this delicious affair, cardamom cake & rosewater icing. Click here for the recipe.
We are planning to have a pre-Christmas bake off on 3rd December at 9p.m. The theme has yet to be decided so let us know if you have any suggestions (must be festive). I would be interested to try something from a different country but have no idea what that might be (clicks to Pinterest).
I made a rosehip & strawberry cake.
I spent days looking for a recipe but was not feeling like following one so I decided to wing it. I based my cake around rosehip as I have been making syrup recently and find the flavour really interesting. It is full of vitamin C and I have that persistent cold which is bothering so many people at the moment, (thanks English winter) so there was a health bonus too.
This year I have really enjoyed getting to know the food on our doorstep. Wild roses or Dog Rose are really common in England and provide delicious edibles twice a year. In the spring you can pick their petals and make jam or tea with them. In Autumn they offer the rose hip. It is a red fruity berry with rock hard seeds inside. These mean you can’t just eat them straight off the bush, however they can be processed in a number of ways.
Rosehips have a fantastic sharp/sweet quality. I love this sort of thing in sweet and savoury dishes. Last week I made some pan-fried pidgeon breasts with a pan juice and rosehip syrup vinaigrette. They were delicious. Rosehip syrup is pretty sweet so I decided to incorporate a fresh ingredient for contrast. I used strawberries because we had loads of them in the fridge and they go well with rose flavour.
Incorporating syrup into cake is not necessarily an easy thing to do as it can spoil the rise. Also I was making a gluten free cake so I needed the air bubbles from creaming the sugar & butter or it would not rise at all. In the end I made a regular batter with oat flour & a gluten free mix. Once it had baked I pierced holes in the top and spooned the rosehip syrup over. I also spread it onto both sides of the cut sponge when I was filling it. To ramp up the taste I added pieces of candied rosehip. In the final result the rosehip flavour came through well and the cake was moist from the syrup.
I made a frosting from strawberries and rosewater which was delicious. The recipe was a complicated one but worth it. I wish I could say I was as happy with the way the icing looked as I was with the taste. I left small lumps of strawberry in the frosting for flavour but this turned out to have terrible repercussions for the aesthetics of the cake. Also, realised I need more practice with a piping bag. If anyone has any good tips I would love to hear them.
Rosehips are a bit too tangy to add straight to a cake so candying was the perfect option. I googled it to see if this is possible & then set about experimenting. The recipe below is based on several hours of trying different methods. I did try cutting them and taking out the seeds beforehand but the end result was a hard, dry, withered bit of rosehip. Boiling them in water to soften and then in sugar syrup just made them too soft. Keeping them whole retains some of the juices and in the end you get a fuller flavour and a slightly juicy bite.
Whole fresh Rosehips
I have not given weights and measures for this as you may have lots of rosehips. As a guide I used about 25 rosehips, 2 cups water, 1 cup sugar.
1. Wash and dry the Rosehips and remove any which are damaged.
2. Make a sugar syrup by dissolving sugar in water. Use a ratio of half the amount of sugar to water. (I found a regular sugar syrup was too thick and boiled away before the rosehips were ready.)
3. Boil the rosehips in the syrup quite vigorously for 12-15 minutes with a lid over them to stop water evaporation. If the water does start to evaporate add some boiling water to replace it.
4. After 10 minutes keep testing the rosehips with the side of a spoon and when they start to feel more soft and there is some give in the flesh they are ready.
5. Leave them to cool for a good 5 minutes and then transfer them to a sieve to drain. You can save the sugar syrup to use in baking.
6. Remove the top of the rosehips and scrape out the seeds. Make sure to get them all as they are rock hard and any strays could spell a visit to the dentist.
I had intended to use my candied rosehips to decorate the cake but they looked messy so I put them in the sponge. I think they would be good in lots of different cakes and I am thinking about how I can use the leftovers in a savoury dish.