So I finally decided it was time to get my hands dirty with cake batter again. I haven’t used butter and sugar together in a while and I was waiting for inspiration to start cracking some eggs again. And I finally found a good reason. Or two. And the result was this beautiful Naked Raspberry cake with Pistachio and Rose water Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
You guys know I love baking cakes and always look forward to a special occasion to do so. Whenever there’s a reason to celebrate, there’s always going to be a cake in our house. So what better reason than to celebrate the first year anniversary of Fiesta Friday and to keep the two week long party going!
The second reason of course is Valentine’s! When I think of that little chubby guy with wings and a bow and arrow, I picture chocolate, strawberries, raspberries, roses and champagne. I wanted to keep it simple and I wanted an amalgamation of simple flavours in perfect balance. I wanted just the right amount of sweetness to celebrate those sweet moments in your life. And to help you do that, I made this raspberry cake, which has chopped pistachios and rose water Swiss meringue buttercream with chocolate dipped raspberries on top. All that’s missing is maybe a glass (or bottle?) of Champagne.
I pulled out a couple of hairs trying to figure out whether I should use fresh raspberries or preserves for this cake. I tried fresh raspberries first, but the flavour wasn’t as strong as I would’ve liked and the final texture was a little “gloopy” for my liking. Raspberry preserves on the other hand had more concentrated flavour and the sweetness and tartness that I desired and it also had the right consistency. I used a basic vanilla butter cake and adapted it for the raspberries and sugar content. I have always wanted to try making a “naked” cake and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do so. I loved it so much, that I think I just might keep doing all my future cakes like this.
The chunky pistachios added a wonderful crunch and flavour, especially when placed between the smooth sweet Swiss meringue buttercream and the fruity cake layer. I wanted the green pistachios to add a nice contrast of colour as well. I do have to confess however that I haven’t always been a big fan of raw pistachios. Which is a bit surprising considering my parents absolutely love pistachios. I do love them in baked goods and desserts like cakes, pastries, ice creams etc. But I have to say I’m definitely warming up to raw pistachios now though!
You may notice that I have sprinkled some pistachios on each cake layer before adding the buttercream. However, looking at the end result I feel like I may have used too little of the pistachios for this purpose. I would have loved a more visible layer of pistachios, so if you do give this a try, make sure to add more than what I have.
Rose water Swiss Meringue Buttercream
I am a buttercream advocate. I love them all! I really do. But if you asked me for my favourite, I wouldn’t hesitate a second to tell you that it’s Swiss meringue. Which in itself is interesting, because the first time I tried to make it, it turned out to be bit of a disaster and I swore that I will never try to make it again. But hey, that attitude isn’t going to get you far in life, is it? So I told myself that first impressions aren’t always the best and even though the recipe can sound a bit intimidating, I was going to get it right. Since then, Swiss meringue buttercream and I have had an amazingly wonderful relationship. Plus I can’t help but LOVE the moment I get my meringue perfect with those beautiful stiff peaks!
Rose water is a truly amazing flavour, if used correctly. Especially for this cake, all you need is a hint of rose water (add too much and you’ll feel like you’re eating a flower bouquet). When my husband tasted this buttercream for the first time, his eyes got big and he said it tasted just like Faluda (Faluda/Falooda is a very unique drink that is extremely popular in Sri Lanka and parts of South Asia. Look it up, I assure you, you will love the look and sound of it) and he’s been calling this the “Faluda cake” since then!
- 3 x 6 inch or 8 inch raspberry cake layers, tops trimmed (recipe below)
- 1 recipe of rose water Swiss meringue buttercream (recipe below)
- ½ cup raspberry preserves, warmed
- 1 cup chopped pistachios
- ½ pint fresh raspberries (to go in the buttercream, between the cake layers)
- ½ pint raspberries dipped in chocolate (to garnish)
- Spread ¼ cup of raspberry preserves on top of a cake layer.
- Optional - wrap the cake in acetate paper and secure with sticky tape or a elastic band.
- Sprinkle half of the pistachios on top.
- Spread ⅓ of the buttercream on the cake and place a few raspberries in it. Then place the second cake layer on top.
- Repeat with the raspberry preserves, pistachio, buttercream and fresh raspberry, and place the third (top) cake layer on top.
- Spread the remaining amount of buttercream on top.
- Let it set in the fridge for about an hour and remove the acetate paper. Smoothen the sides and decorate with the chocolate dipped raspberries and pistachios.
- 4 large eggs (separated), at room temperature
- 350g AP flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 227 g / 8 oz unsalted butter, softened
- 300g / 10.6oz granulated sugar, divided (230g / 8.1oz and 70g / 2.5oz)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup (125mL) milk, at room temperature
- ½ cup (125mL) raspberry preserves
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1-2 drops pink colouring (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/ 180°C. Prepare 3 x 6 inch cake pans (or 3 x 8 inch cake pans) with parchment paper.
- In your mixer bowl, cream butter and the first portion of sugar (230g /8.1oz) until light and fluffy for about 5 minutes.
- Add the separated yolks, one at a time, while mixing.
- Add the raspberry preserves and vanilla (and pink colouring if using) and mix through the batter.
- Sift the AP flour, baking powder, salt together and set aside.
- Add the flour in 3 batches, alternating with the milk (flour-milk-flour-milk-flour) while mixing on low.
- In a clean, dry bowl whisk the egg whites until they are frothy. Add the sugar and cream of tartar and whisk until it forms stiff peaks and is glossy.
- Add one quarter of the meringue into the cake batter and mix well.
- Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.
- Evenly distribute the batter between the 3 cake pans and bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and let it cool for about 10 minutes and turn out on to a wire rack and let it cool completely.
- When cooled, you can trim the top of the cake and frost the cake. You can store the cakes in the fridge for a few days, double wrapped in plastic wrap and foil, or for months in the freezer.
- 4-5 large, (150g /5.3oz) fresh egg whites
- 220g / 7.7 oz granulated white sugar
- 340g / 12oz unsalted butter (plus 4 tablespoons extra) taken out of the fridge and cut into cubes (cool, but not cold)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup of rose Water
- ¼ tsp salt
- In a clean (heat proof) mixing bowl mix the egg white and sugar.
- Over a double boiler (that is over a saucepan of simmering water - do not let the mixer bowl touch the simmering water), whisk the egg whites and sugar constantly (does not need to be vigorous whisking) until it reaches 155-160°F/ 68°-71°C.
- Transfer the bowl back to the mixer and with the whisk attachment on medium-high, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form and the meringue looks thick and glossy.
- You must keep whisking until the egg mixture cools down to room temperature (or at least until the bowl is no longer warm to the touch). The time it takes for this to occur depends on the bowl you’re using and the ambient temperature - It took me about 15 minutes.
- Switch to the paddle beater and while the speed is on low- start adding the butter, a cube at a time, incorporating each cube before adding the next. Add the salt with the butter as well.
- The icing may curdle while you’re beating in the butter. Just keep adding the butter and mixing the buttercream. It will come together to form a silky soft buttercream.
- Add 1 tsp of vanilla and 4 tbsp rose water and mix until well incorporated.
- You can add colouring if you like - but add only gel based or powdered colouring as water based colouring will not mix.
- You can store this buttercream in an air tight container and keep it in the fridge. You will need to let it return to room temperature and then re-whip the frosting before using.
The word “vintage” popped into my head several times while making, decorating, cutting and then eating this cake. That and a host of strange nostalgic memories that really had nothing to do with cake or even food for that matter. The sweet scent of rose water took me back to the times when I was little and I would go through my grandmother’s armoire, rummaging through her clothes, jewellery and perfume. The dull pink colour of the fruity cake layers reminded me of old faded pink dresses I owned and the faded pink of my old “security pillow”. And the buttercream tasted just like one of our absolute favourite milk shakes (Faluda) from many years ago like I’ve already mentioned. It’s amazing how a subtle scent or a flavour can trigger connections like that deep in your brain and recall memories that are so near and dear to you. So yes, I would absolutely use the word vintage to describe this beautiful cake. The only thing that’s missing is maybe a string of pearls wrapped around it.
Mr K and I both loved this cake! The flavours were just perfectly balanced. The raspberries add a very nice fruity sweetness which is complemented well by the floral scent and flavour of rose water. The pistachios provide a nice crunch and an earthy flavour. Oh and the buttercream! It was melt-in-your-mouth soft and smooth and the raspberries buried in the buttercream gave little bursts of tart fruity flavour. The cake isn’t overly sweet at all, so you’re not left feeling like you had something too indulgent.
So this is my contribution to Fiesta Friday #53 and week #2 of their two week long anniversary party. Thank you to Angie, Selma and Nancy for hosting an amazing party! It’s also my contribution to all the valentines out there looking for something special to celebrate the day with someone special.
What have you got planned for Valentine’s Day?
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