rose rose cake

We had our first Bagel Sunday at Amazing Grains this weekend!! Robert, one of Grand Forks’ resident bagel experts came in and we spent the weekend making plain and onion bagels. He hadn’t made bagels in 19 years and I hadn’t made bagels in, well, probably 19 years too, so we hacked our way through our first couple of batches and they miraculously turned out so deliciously dense and doughy, just the way I like them. I was so pleased! We used Robert’s recipe that he used when he owned his bagel shop in boise. It doesn’t have barley malt in it, just a nice amount of brown sugar, and we made them so pleasantly plump. (I have never been bound to my bagels having a well-defined hole, is that ok??) We offered three basic options: salmon and cream cheese, egg and cheese, and just cream cheese, and sold out in an hour and a half!! It was so much fun. Sundays are my new favorite. In future weeks I’d like to do pizza bagels, fancy avocado toast bagels, maybe even bagel dogs. But first I really need to improve my bagel rolling skills because mine came out bumpy and lumpy. 

After Bagel Sunday we got a snowstorm and it was so cozy inside. I made a big sunday supper of tahdig (my first try!) and the fava bean meatball dish from Jerusalem, which I loved except for the unshelled fava bean part. I still have a bunch of favas left though so I think I’ll put some on a pizza and then make ful with the rest.

When I wasn't shelling fava beans or rolling bagels these past few days, I was practicing my buttercream roses. Part of me thinks I should just stick to using marzipan since my clumsy hands can handle that so much more easily than buttercream, but I’ve found that once I kind of get into the rhythm of things, I can churn out buttercream roses way faster than marzipan roses (even if they are a little rustic... but that’s why I’m practicing).

And I’ll indeed need to up my speed because I am planning to cover enough cake for 400 million people with buttercream roses for Eggsister’s wedding in July. That's the whole reason I'm on this buttercream rose kick! The idea came after she decided that all of the bridesmaids and eggboy (the man of honor) would wear something flowery. I thought that with a floral theme, a whole table of floral-inspired cakes would be appropriate. So over the next few months I plan to: figure out recipes for a hibiscus cake, an orange blossom carrot cake, a chocolate lavender cake, and any other flowery cakes that eggsister and eggsisterfiancé want (got any suggestions??), and then also improve my buttercream roses and succulents. I tackled this vanilla rose cake first since rose is a flavor I’ve been comfortable with ever since I realized that you only need the teensiest bit of rosewater to have a great effect. 

I watched a bazillion video tutorials on how to make buttercream roses and also looked at instagram accounts like brooklyn floral delight. I figured out a few things:

-American buttercream probably isn’t the best for this since it can get a little bit flimsy. I’m including the recipe for it here since it’s my go-to buttercream when frosting cakes and if you’re just doing a basic frosting job for this, it does the trick, is easy to make, and is tasty. I haven’t yet experimented much with Italian buttercream but that’s what I’m going to use for my next rose practice session.

-It’s important to get one of these thingies and a few of the proper tips (and I’ve been using couplers so that I can switch the tips easily between colors). 

-I found that it was easiest to pipe the roses onto a little square of parchment (stick the parchment onto the metal thingy with a blob of frosting) and then transfer the parchment with the rose on it to a sheet pan. Freeze or refrigerate the sheet pan until the roses are firmed up and then pick em up with your hands, peel off the parchment, and just plop them right down onto your cake. From there you can fill in any empty spaces or clean up the edges with any reserved frosting in your piping bags. One pan of roses made enough to fill up this whole sheet cake, so I’m thinking that I’ll want to pipe about six full pans of roses in preparation for eggsisterwedding. I’m hoping that by that time I’ll be able to bang em all out the day before and then hold on to the extra frosting that’s still in the piping bags at room temperature so that I can fill in any holes the morning of the wedding. I’ll plan to bake the cakes three days out, frost them with a base layer two days out, do the roses the day before, assemble the morning of, and then party my tuchus off. 

-Best not to watch Bojack or anything else that is funny while you’re piping because laughing leads to ruffled petals. Which is fine if you’re going for that look, but I have to get a handle on clean petals before I can start taking artistic liberties.

Alright, gotta go make spätzle! My second rose practice session is in a few weeks, I’ll report back.

Here's a rosewater cake that's got the body of a vanilla cardamom cake but the sparkle and shimmer that only a drop of rosewater can add:

rose rose cake

makes one 9 x 13" cake


for the cake:

1 3/4 c sugar

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

2 large eggs

1 c buttermilk

1/2 c flavorless oil, like canola

1 tb vanilla extract

1/2 tsp rosewater

1/2 tsp almond extract

3/4 c water


for the frosting:

1 c unsalted butter, softened

3 c powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

a couple of drops of rosewater

a pinch of kosher salt

2 tb heavy cream


for the cake:

preheat the oven to 350ºf. line a 9 x 13" baking pan with parchment and set aside.

in a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cardamom. in a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, rosewater, almond extract, and water.

whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. pour batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 35 minutes.

let the cake cool in the pan before frosting.

for the frosting:

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, rosewater, and salt and mix until combined. mix in the heavy cream.

frost as desired! you certainly don't need to cover the whole darn thing in roses, but if you'd like to, see notes above and then here are a few reference videos: 

video 1

video 2

video 3

video 4