Friday, March 22, 2013

French Fridays with Dorie - The Final Rose...Cake

When I first read the line up for this month's French Fridays with Dorie recipes and saw this week's Ispahan Loaf Cake, the "cake" part didn't quite register. I just saw Ispahan Loaf and envisioned some kind of meatloaf. Dorie enlightened me with an introduction to Pierre Hermé's Ispahan Collection of sweets (Ispahan is the name of a fragrant rose and the once-capital of Persia) and the resulting rose fever that spread throughout France after he created his most famous macaron. The Picasso of Pastry's Ispahan Macaron consists of rose-colored almond-meringue disks sandwiching rose-flavored cream studded with lychees and raspberries, and topped with a fresh rose petal fastened to the macaron by a tiny drop of sugar syrup. Rather than challenging her readers with temperamental macarons (thank you), Dorie chose one of the easier recipes from the Ispahan family.

Ispahan Loaf Cake

Dorie's description of the cake lured me in...

"-all the surprises are in the finished cake; the color is pink, the flavor is haunting,
and the crumb is soft, tight, and pleasantly springy...
And then there are the fresh raspberries - they dot the interior of the cake
and permeate it with both their distinctive flavor and their perfume. It's a remarkable cake."

Playing with my food again

The cake must be made with rose syrup, not rose water, another reason I chose to participate this week. I enjoy trying new ingredients and was easily able to locate the syrup at North Park Produce, an ethnic market with Middle Eastern products. They don't carry Monin, Pierre's recommended brand ($16.54 on Amazon for a 750 ml bottle), but they have another brand for $4.25. The syrup has a beautiful rose color and very intense rose perfume but I now wonder, after using it in my cake, if the quality had anything to do with my opinion of the cake.

First rose of spring and gorgeous red raspberries

The batter is made with almond flour, a small amount of all-purpose flour, confectioner's sugar, eggs, butter, rose syrup, milk, and rose extract. The egg whites are beaten and folded into the batter to lighten it. A third of the batter goes into the loaf pan, followed by three rows of raspberries, another layer batter, three more rows of raspberries, and the remaining batter.

Rows of red raspberries

To me, the cake was nothing special and it didn't meet my expectations, or Dorie's alluring description. When I took it out of the oven, it was tall, golden brown, springy to the touch, and had pulled away from the sides of the pan - exactly as described. After it cooled, it sliced nicely, but it wanted to fall apart. It tasted slightly under baked - it was too moist, almost wet. Of course, the raspberries were mushy after being cooked. I didn't taste the "haunting" flavor, and my batter or cake wasn't pink. In short, I would have been happier with a plain ol' slice of pound cake topped with fresh raspberries and whipped cream.

Pretty, but not pink

Baking of the cake did coincide with the first day of spring and the first rose to bloom in my new garden. After using the rose for the photograph with the raspberries above, and admiring it in a vase on the dining room table for another day, I rounded up Trapper for a photo shoot. Unfortunately, the rose was harmed beyond recognition by the inevitable drool and game of keep-away. This won't be the final rose in my garden this season, but it may be the final rose cake in my kitchen for a while. I'll be searching for other recipes calling for rose syrup now that I have an entire bottle. So far, I like the idea of Turkish Delight and/or adding a drop or two in my Champagne (see Le Sirop de Rose de Pierre Hermé, Clotilde Dusoulier, Chocolate & Zucchini).

Trapper supplies all the sweetness I need

French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. The book is filled with stunning photography, and personal stories about each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection if you haven't already!

10 comments:

Rosemary & Garlic said...

I had difficulties with this loaf but do not think that I want to try making it again. The pound cake seems like the way to go.

Cher Rockwell said...

Oh- great picture of Trapper and the rose.
I am seeking out uses for that bottle of syrup as well - beverages, desserts, marshmallows...

Ei said...

Trapper is stinkin' cute! Have to agree with you--plain old pound cake with raspberries and whipped cream would have made me just as--if not more--happy.

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Denise, what stunning pictures of the beautiful raspberries, especially the one with the berries in the spoon is fabulous - sad that this cake did not quite live up to your expectations. I must agree with you about the pink hue that this cake was supposed to have, not a chance, no matter where the rose syrup was ordered from.
Have a lovely Friday!

Jessica of My Baking Heart said...

Such gorgeous pictures... cake and puppy! :)

Diane Balch said...

Yeah, this cake was "interesting" but not "haunting" in any sense of the word.

sanyaliving.com said...

You photos are gorgeous!
Your cake turned out perfect :)

Sara said...

Ooh, I hadn't thought of putting the rose syrup in champagne - sounds nice! This was enjoyed at our house, but I can see how it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. At least it looks yummy!

Adriana said...

I didn't have the time to go scavenging for the rosy ingredients, but am considering making a version with orange flower. It seems this week was tough on a lot of people.

Betsy said...

Great photos, Denise. The ones with the raspberries are fantastic, and the one with Trapper, heartwarming. I didn't enjoy the cake, but like your ideas for using the syrup. I've always wanted to try making Turkish Delight.