Pis­ta­chio and rose wa­ter semolina cake

A labour of love! In the book we go all- out with our own crys­tallised rose petals but if you want to save time you can do with­out these or use shop-bought dried rose petals: the cake and cream are both spe­cial enough.

The Mail on Sunday - You - - Food Ottolenghi Sweet -

SERVES 10-12

300g un­salted but­ter, at room tem­per­a­ture, cubed, plus ex­tra for greas­ing 3 car­damom pods 150g shelled pis­ta­chio ker­nels, plus an ex­tra 20g, finely chopped 100g ground al­monds 170g fine semolina 1¼ tsp bak­ing pow­der ¼ tsp salt 330g caster sugar 4 large eggs, lightly whisked finely grated zest of 1 lemon (1 tsp), plus 1 tbsp lemon juice 2 tbsp rose wa­ter (not rose essence) ½ tsp vanilla ex­tract

CREAM 200g Greek yo­ghurt 200g crème fraîche 1 tbsp ic­ing sugar 1 tbsp rose wa­ter

SYRUP AND TO FIN­ISH 100ml lemon juice 80ml rose wa­ter 100g caster sugar crys­tallised rose petals for the top (op­tional)

Pre­heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and grease a 23cm spring­form cake tin and line with bak­ing parch­ment.

Use the flat side of a large knife to crush the car­damom pods and place the seeds in the small bowl of a food pro­ces­sor: you’ll have just un­der ¼ tea­spoon of seeds. The pods can be dis­carded. Add the whole pis­ta­chios and blitz un­til the nuts are finely ground – the black car­damom seeds won’t re­ally grind down – then trans­fer to a bowl. Add the ground al­monds, semolina, bak­ing pow­der and salt. Mix to­gether and set aside.

Place the but­ter and sugar in the bowl of an elec­tric mixer with the pad­dle at­tach­ment in place. Beat on a medium-high speed un­til fully com­bined, but take care not to over­work: you don’t want to in­cor­po­rate a lot of air into the mix. With the ma­chine still run­ning, slowly add the eggs, scrap­ing down the sides of the bowl a few times and mak­ing sure that each batch is fully in­cor­po­rated be­fore adding the next. The mix will cur­dle once the eggs are added, but don’t worry, this will not af­fect the end re­sult.

Re­move the bowl from the ma­chine and add the dry in­gre­di­ents, fold­ing them in by hand and, again, tak­ing care not to over-mix. Next fold in the lemon zest, juice, rose wa­ter and vanilla ex­tract, and scrape the bat­ter into the tin. Level with a pal­ette knife and bake for about 55-60 min­utes or un­til a skewer in­serted in the cen­tre of the cake comes out clean but oily.

Make the cream while the cake is in the oven. Place all the in­gre­di­ents in a bowl and use a hand­held whisk to whip ev­ery­thing to­gether for about 2 min­utes, un­til thick. Keep in the fridge un­til ready to serve.

Start to make the syrup about 10 min­utes be­fore the cake comes out of the oven: you want it to be warm when the cake is ready. Place all the in­gre­di­ents for the syrup in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, stir­ring so that the sugar dis­solves, then re­move from the heat: don’t worry that the con­sis­tency is thin­ner than you might ex­pect, this is how it should be.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, driz­zle all the syrup over the top. It is a lot of syrup, but don’t lose your nerve: the cake can take it! Sprin­kle over the finely chopped pis­ta­chios and set the cake aside in its tin to come to room tem­per­a­ture. Re­move from the tin and scat­ter the rose petals over the cake. Serve with a gen­er­ous spoon­ful of the cream along­side. The cake keeps well for up to 5 days in an air­tight con­tainer. If not serv­ing on the day, the rose petals should be sprin­kled over just be­fore serv­ing.

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