This cake is a new favorite, even among those devoted to wheat flour. It’s moist and earthy, with a golden, chewy crust. The rye flour growls softly, and the flavor of rose petals hums along lightly in the background. It’s a symphony on the fork. As to which season it celebrates best, you may have to be the judge.
The original recipe, from Dandelion and Quince: Exploring the Wide World of Unusual Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs, calls for blackberries alone to be mashed with the rose petal sugar, and certainly, in the middle of July, we would think of nothing else. In early May, we used some frozen blackberries, and the first flush of fresh raspberries with the rose sugar to make the sweet line of fruit through the heart of the cake. When we made the cake again, we used the first few ribs of rhubarb from the plant in our demo garden. In fact, we cooked them down, added an extra tablespoon of rose sugar, and made a rhubarb rose simple syrup from the leftover cooking liquid. Bonus recipe! We’ll try it next winter (or maybe sooner) studded with currants and a bit of orange zest or candied orange peel. As with so many beloved recipes, we view this one as a starting place more than a firm destination. Where might it take you?
Substitute buckwheat flour for rye, if you prefer a gluten-free option.
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Place the dried rose petals in a mortar.
Measure out the cup of sugar, and place 3 tablespoons of it into the mortar with the rose petals.
Crush the rose petals and sugar together using the mortar and pestle, until the sugar is light and pink, and the petals are ground to a fine powder.
Toss the berries with 2 tablespoons of the rose sugar in a small bowl, and crush into a jammy puree using the tines of a fork. If using rhubarb instead, you may want to add another tablespoon of rose sugar to the mixture.
Combine the butter and remaining granulated sugar together.
In another bowl, whisk together the rye and almond flours, baking powder, and salt.
Whisk the eggs together and add them to the flour mixture.
Combine the flour mixture with the butter and sugar, mixing until fully incorporated.
Spread two-thirds of the batter into the bottom of a greased 9’ springform pan.
Spoon the berries or rhubarb over the batter in the pan.
Spread the remaining batter over the top of the fruit mixture.
Scatter the rest of the rose sugar on the top of the cake (you may not use it all).
Bake until the cake has set and the top has turned a rich golden brown color. (The original recipe says this takes 45-50 minutes, but in our old O’Keefe and Merritt, it took closer to 70 minutes. It may be time to get an oven thermometer…In any case, the color (and smell!) of the finished cake are unmistakable. Be patient.
And yet more patience is required… Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool completely before unmolding and slicing.
Worth the wait.
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