Orange, Mint, and Rose Petal Cake
Makes one 9-inch Cake
"This is one of the most enticing cakes imaginable. Almonds, milk, orange, mint, rose water—the list of ingredients alone seduces. The cake itself is strewn with dried rose petals to further snare any who haven’t already been lured by its aroma. Dee is one of my favorite bakers in London. For years, I’d pop into Fernandez and Wells in Soho and grow indecisive in the face of her Moroccan Honey Cake and her Greek Orange Almond Semolina Cake, until, that is, I tasted this beauty and never looked back. When I asked to speak to the baker, I was told that if I hurried I’d catch her around the corner—Jorge Fernandez and Rick Wells have several cafés, each unique, including one on Beak Street and one a few paces away on Lexington Street. I dashed after her with a fury, and minutes later we were seated in a back courtyard talking recipes. We were still there an hour later.
When Dee heard that my parents had lived in Morocco, she told me the story of traveling there with her husband, a Moroccan, to meet his mother. Dee had thought herself a decent baker, but seeing her mother-in-law crouch by the side of a sandy road one day and, with little more than honey, olive oil, and almonds, produce a cake with a delicate, moist crumb and lingering perfume—well, it was a revelation. Dee’s cakes now carry the flavors of North Africa, Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East, and Fernandez and Wells has garnered a fanatical following among foodies searching for a bit more than a classic scone and clotted cream. For those who’ve had their sweet tooth pulled, the cured meats, farmhouses cheeses, sourdough bread, and fierce coffee will make you a regular."
Reprinted with permission from The London Cookbook by Aleksandra Crapanzano(@aleksandracrapanzano). Ten Speed Press © 2016.
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1½ cups self-rising flour
⅓ cup almond flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup whole milk
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint
Zest of 1 orange
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp Damask Rose Petals
Dried rose petals, for garnish (optional)
1 strip orange zest, for garnish (optional)
Thin shreds of fresh mint, for garnish (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 ̊F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a stand mixer or using electric beaters and a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until the color is light and the texture is fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, and baking powder. Add this to the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, and beating to combine. Very finely chop the mint and stir into the batter, along with the orange zest.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
To make the icing, in a stand mixer or using electric beaters, cream the butter on low speed. Slowly pour in the confectioners’ sugar while beating. Once combined, raise the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Sprinkle with the rose powder and beat for another minute.
Let the cake cool completely before icing the top of the cake.
Rose petals make the prettiest garnish. But if you haven’t any on hand, the zest of an orange and the thinnest shreds of mint will give color and a hint of what’s to come. A light dusting of confectioners’ sugar only adds to the feminine beauty of this cake.
The London Cookbook is available for purchase here: