Cook it, live it: Rose Cake

At Habitat, we are all big fans of cooking. Especially baking. And this rose cake recipe won’t disappoint!

Tessa Kiros is London born, to a Finnish mother and Greek-Cypriot father. After travelling the world with an insatiable thirst for other cultures and their traditions, Tessa has settled in Tuscany with her husband and two children. Tessa’s books continue to inspire us and are a constant source of beautiful recipes for anyone to cook at home.

“This recipe is from Marzia, one of my neighbours in Italy, who got it from someone in Venice, but it is traditionally a Portuguese cake. (It must have fallen off one of the old ships travelling the spice route from Portugal to Venice!) It’s often made with some chopped-up candied fruits and other bits and pieces folded in.

Makes about 15 pieces

50 g (1¾ oz) fresh yeast or 21 g

(¾ oz) dried yeast

125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) warm milk

115 g (4 oz) caster (superfine) sugar,

plus 140 g (5 oz) extra

about 550 g (1 lb 4 oz) plain

(all-purpose) flour

1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks

200 ml (7 fl oz) cream

150 g (5½ oz) butter, softened

a pinch of salt

Crumble up the fresh yeast (or sprinkle the dried) into a small bowl, add the lukewarm milk and a stolen pinch of the sugar and whisk it together. Leave until the yeast starts to activate and bubble up a bit. Add about a cupful of flour, or however much it takes to make a soft dough. Knead briefly into a smooth ball, make a cross on top and put it in a large bowl. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 1½–2 hours until doubled in size or well puffed up.

Whip together the egg, yolks and cream and then add to the risen dough with the 115 g of sugar and the rest of the flour, saving a few spoonfuls for kneading and rolling. Mix well with your fingers to separate any clumps and make it all into a soft smooth dough. Use a heavy-duty mixer for this, if you have one.

Knead the pastry on the largest board you have or just on your work surface (the diameter of this pastry will be 70 cm/27½ inches!). Roll out into a circle, dusting your hands with flour to prevent sticking, until about 2 mm (inch) thick and 70 cm (28 inches) across. Butter a 30 cm (12 inch) round non-stick cake tin that is about 6 cm (2½ inches) deep. Mash up the butter with the extra sugar until soft, creamy and easy to spread. Dab it here and there over the pastry and then gently spread with a butter knife or your hands. Roll up fairly tightly into a long thin sausage.

Cut into 5 cm (2 inch) sections (I got about 15 or 16 roses from my pastry). Stand them upright on your work surface and make about 5 shallow snips around the edge with kitchen scissors. Arrange, standing up, in the tin — one in the middle, some around the outside and a few smaller ones in the middle row. They won’t be touching now but space them fairly evenly. They will puff up and join together with that lovely look of flowers in full blossom. Cover and leave in a warm draught-free place for another 1½–2 hours or so until puffed right up.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) and bake for about 45 minutes, covering with foil if you think it’s browning too much. It’s important not to overcook it or it will dry out. Cut into wedges or pull into roses when cooled.”

Recipe and images taken from Tessa Kiros:The Recipe Collection (£20), published by Murdoch Books

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