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.
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.