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Maple syrup and rosewater cake

I went to my first Clandestine Cake Club last night. I joined the South Manchester group, at a place that I’m not sure we can talk about! Not joking… I’m new so I don’t know the protocol yet, it is supposed to be clandestine after all! I’m not going to lie to you, I was a bit anxious, as I only usually cook/bake for my family and friends. I only got offered a place last minute so agreed and quickly decided to do something out of my current favourite cookbook Love Bake Nourish. (Have been promised a copy by a PR person but it’s not arrived, if it ever does arrive I shall give away on FB so watch this space. I CANNOT be parted with my own copy!) Anyhoo…

… The theme was Birthdays. As in, what type of cake would you like someone to bake for you. As well as wanting to try a proper cake from Love Bake Nourish, I also genuinely love simple, natural cakes the most. So, if anyone ever does want to make me a cake for my birthday – as if – do choose something along these lines… preferably from this book!

I adapted the Strawberry and Rosewater Cake and renamed it Maple Syrup and Rosewater Cake. As strawbs aren’t yet in season (not long though) I originally thought I’d replace with some roasted rhubarb, but there was none to be found in my local grocer’s, something to do with the unseasonally freezing weather the grocer seemed to think. I compromised with some plum compote that I had in my fridge, made a while back – and also containing a lot of maple syrup! I could’ve used a nice strawberry jam, like Bonne Maman, and it would have been nice. But I wanted to keep it 100% homemade. So plum compote it was.

This cake is a bit like a more wholesome version of a Victoria Sponge – with bells on. There is a whole bottle, yes you read that right, a whole bottle of maple syrup in this cake, mostly in the sponge but a bit in the cream too. It replaces the sugar and provides a more natural sweetness. Maple syrup is regarded by many as an indulgent treat, but in health terms it is totally good for you: 100% natural, high in antioxidants and also providing slow release energy as opposed to the quick rush of unrefined sugars. But it is expensive. Very. A bottle of Buckwood Maple Syrup, which is what I used here, cost £5.19. So, it’s definitely a special occasion cake, which makes it’s perfect for a birthday I guess.

The flour used is white spelt, so that’s much better for you than plain white flour, which is refined and stripped of any nutritional benefits. If the amount of cream/yoghurt filling alarms you I would say cut it by a third or even halve it. I went with the recipe amounts, as I had never made it before, but it would be just as nice with half that amount, if less indulgent. The filling holds well too, so don’t be nervous that it will all dribble out, it won’t if it’s whipped to the right consistency. Don’t be tempted to just use Greek yoghurt though to be more healthy, as it’s the whipped cream that makes it hold. The next day it still holds firm, and it slices really well too, see picture below of a slice enjoyed today.

You can get hold of rosewater at many ‘ethnic’ shops, some health food shops too. Waitrose or some supermarkets may sell it. Don’t be put worried by how strong it smells (in fact it smells so good you could dab it on your neck), simply use the amounts here – no more – and there will just be a faint aroma, a background scent, of roses. It doesn’t taste of perfume. If you wanted to make this really special, you could add sugared rose petals on the top. I would love to do this for a special occasion, and fully intend to at the next opportunity. There are instructions for this in the book. But just as it is here, with a scented cream and compote filling, it really is rather nice.

To make a cake that will serve and satisfy 8 people: 
220g unsalted butter, softened
220g white spelt flour
3 organic eggs
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of rosewater
225g maple syrup (grams not mls, I’ve made that mistake before!)
Grated zest of unwaxed lemon

150ml double cream
150ml Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon of maple syrup
1 teaspoon of rosewater
5 tablespoons of a homemade compote or a good quality jam

(Original recipe adds 400g strawberries in the filling and to decorate on top)

  • Grease and line 2 x 20cm loose bottomed, sandwich cake tins. Don’t skip this step, it’s always worth doing and I never skip it after several instances where the cakes have stuck to the tin. 
  • Preheat oven to 180C. If you have a fierce, fan assisted oven like mine, consider having your temp set at 170C. (I have a new internal thermometer so I get an exact heat – after many baking disasters I can strongly recommend them!)
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk butter until fluffy and pale. 
  • Add 2/3 tablespoons of flour to your butter and keep mixing, adding eggs, one at a time. If it curdles a little, which it does, shake a little bit more flour in. After your eggs are all in, then gradually mix in the rest of the flour and baking powder. 
  • Now add maple syrup, rosewater, lemon zest and fold carefully. Don’t overmix. 
  • Divide your mixture up between two tins and level out. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until middle of the cake springs back when you press it slightly. 
  • Let cool in tin for 10 minutes, then turn out carefully onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • Whip cream until they start to form soft peaks – DO NOT OVERWHIP!! Sorry for CAPS, it’s just easy to do and you’ll get a totally different filling if overwhipped. When it is getting a bit ‘peaky’, stop. Carefully, fold your yoghurt in. Don’t over-fold or it will stiffen. Now, gently stir in the syrup and rosewater too. Your cream should be all whippy and dollopy still. 
  • Spread your jam or compote onto one sandwich, and then follow with cream. Put your top sandwich on, and dust with icing sugar.

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