I’ve been eyeing Yotam Ottolenghi’s pistachio and rose water semolina cake recipe for the last couple years. I’ve never seen an unfrosted cake look so regal and special. Its batter is complex, with a base of pistachio, almond, and semolina flour, combined with flavorings of vanilla, rose water, cardamom, and lemon. It is baked, then soaked in a lemon juice/rose water syrup, topped with crushed pistachios and candied rose petals, and then served with a topping of rose water cream. It truly is a labor of love. I shared the recipe with my colleague today, and she was in total shock that I was making this. The only shortcut I made was that I didn’t make candied rose petals and instead am adorning the cake with rose tea petals; sourcing edible rose petals seems nearly impossible, even in a city like New York.
“This seems like too much effort,” she said. “If I were you, I’d just buy a cake and claim I made it!”
Part of the joy though is in the process of making. It’s always rewarding to make something from a bunch of raw ingredients and have it bring joy to others. I don’t make many cakes, but I do think my mother-in-law’s birthday is an occasion worthy of a homemade cake.