We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Springtime in Paris and Rose-Scented Raspberry Tea Cake ~ Traditional and Gluten-Free

by Michelle

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” 
                                                                                                                  ~ Ernest Hemingway

   When I dream a little dream, I dream of a spring vacation to Paris. My idle mind wanders across the Atlantic to a rue in Paris that I once visited. One of the things that has caught my attention while perusing cookbooks on French cuisine is the popularity of rose flavored desserts. I've read with interest about rose scented macarons, meringues and tea cakes. I faintly recall trying a rose petal jam when I was a child. I liked the delicate flavor while also marveling at the strangeness of eating the petals of a flower. While rose flavored desserts might be all the rage in France, I have yet to encounter a rose flavored dessert in the USA. That's the beauty of research and intellectual curiosity, I can browse cookbooks and experiment in the kitchen, letting my cooking and baking take me on a journey of discovery until I can once again embark upon a Parisian vacation.

For this recipe you'll need both Rose Syrup and Rose Water.
   As I have said before (most recently in my post about my attempts to make gorgeous Ottolengi-inspired meringues) the third time is a charm. I baked this cake three times in a row in order to get it right. The first attempt failed because the recipe should have called for tossing the fresh raspberries in flour to prevent the berries, all sitting in meticulously formed rows, from all sinking to a jumble at the bottom of the loaf. As you can imagine, that made me really happy. Does sarcasm translate to the page?
   The second bake entailed doubling the recipe to make a Bundt cake and testing the use of frozen berries. Unfortunately, I forgot to spray the silicon mold with coconut oil and woe was me when half the cake stayed firmly lodged in the Bundt pan. Fortunately, I was able to laugh at that disaster. It also helped that when my daughter was digging bites out of the pan with a spoon, she said, "This cake is really good, Mom."
   For the third bake, I was determined to have the cake turn out perfectly. I premeasured all my ingredients (always a  best practice), I thoroughly sprayed the damn mold, and to ensure that I unmolded a pièce de résistance, I added a new twist: almond streusel. A generous slice of cake accompanied my latte this morning, and I have to say, it was a lovely way to start a Sunday morning. If I can't go to France this spring, I'll bring Paris to me.

Maddie offered to model with my cake slice without the customary cajoling—nice!

Rose-Scented Raspberry Tea Cake

   If using frozen raspberries, there is no need to defrost before mixing the berries gently into the batter, but letting the berries sit on the counter for an hour or so is probably a good idea. The benefit of using frozen raspberries is that frozen fruit tend not to sink in batters like fresh berries do. If you choose to use fresh berries, simply toss the fresh berries with a tablespoon of all purpose or gluten-free flour.
  Speaking of gluten-free, this recipe adapted really well due to the number of eggs in the recipe. The cake is leavened with stiffly beaten egg whites. The majority of the flour in the recipe is almond meal. And for those of you who have issues with gums, you will not find guar or xanthan in the ingredients list. The cake's texture is light and moist. Additionally, Lemon CakeAngel Food Cake, and The World's Best Coffee Cake are all recipes that are amazing and adjusted well to using gluten-free flour.
   I adapted this recipe from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan (HMH, 2010). In the book, the recipe is called Ispahan Loaf Cake. As Dorie notes in her preface to the recipe, "Ispahan (or Isfahan) is the name of both a profoundly fragrant rose and the once capital of Persia. And while we Americans might not ever mention the name, many Parisians have it on the tips of the tongues daily, thanks to the pastry genius Pierre Hermé, whose collection of Ispahan desserts is among his best sellers."
   When making a Bundt cake, I prefer to use a food processor (fitted with the steel blade) to sift together the almond flour and confectioners sugar. You may need to stop the machine once or twice and use your hand or a butter knife to stir the ingredients to avoid clumping. Transfer the sifted ingredients to a bowl. Without cleaning the bowl of the food processor, cream the butter, brown sugar, salt and spices for the streusel. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and mix in the sliced almonds with your hands until the mixture is crumbly. Refrigerate the streusel, until ready to use, so it firms up a bit.
   Locally I had no problem finding rose extract at a local specialty grocer. However, I found myself empty handed when it came to sourcing rose syrup. I finally purchased this difficult to find item from Amazon. Both rose extract and rose syrup are not inexpensive, but the measurements are small for the recipe. Both intensely flavored elixirs should last you awhile so that you may make a variety of rose flavored confections and cakes.  

The tea cake has a very moist and tender crumb.
Ingredients for a 9-x-5-inch loaf:
2-1/2 Tbsps rose syrup
2 Tbsps whole milk or half-and-half
2 cups almond flour
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 large eggs, separated, plus
1 large egg at room temperature
2-1/2 Tbsps sugar
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 tsp rose extract
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour mix, I prefer making the GF mix found here
1 pint fresh or frozen raspberries
parchment paper
spray oil, such as coconut

Ingredients for a large Bundt cake:
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp rose syrup
1/4 cup whole milk or half-and-half
4 cups almond flour
2 cups confectioners' sugar
6 large eggs, separated, plus
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp rose extract
1 cup plus 2 Tbsps all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour mix, I prefer making the GF mix found here
16-ounces fresh or frozen raspberries
spray oil, such as coconut

1 stick (8 Tbsps) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1-1/2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt
1-1/2 cups sliced almonds

sifted confectioners sugar
fresh raspberries
whipped cream

Stand Mixer with whisk and paddle attachments
Food processor for a Bundt cake

Measurements for a loaf-sized tea cake.
1. Egg whites are easier to separate from yolks when the eggs are cold. Conversely, room temperature whites whip up fluffier and higher than cold whites. I use three bowls to separate my eggs. A small bowl to catch one egg white at a time, a shallow bowl to hold the yolks, and a plastic measuring vessel to hold all the egg whites. Using one bowl to act as a catch for each egg white ensures that if I accidentally break an egg yolk, I don't taint all the egg whites. Any tiny bit of yolk will inhibit the eggs from whipping properly, so I am extra careful when separating the eggs. Cover the egg whites and let them rest while they come to room temperature, about one hour.
2. To make the streusel: Combine the butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a bowl; stirring well to combine. (Alternatively, you can combine everything in a food processor.) Add the softened butter and rub the flour mixture and butter together until crumbly. Mix in the sliced almonds and stir with your fingers until crumby. Refrigerate until ready for assembly.
3. In the oven, move one rack to the lower third and a second rack to the upper third of the oven. Place a cookie sheet on the top rack; it will act as a shield during baking to prevent the coffee cake from overbrowning. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
4. If making a loaf, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan.

Sift together the almond meal and confectioners' sugar.
5. Stir the rose syrup into the milk. Put the almond flour and confectioners' sugar in a sieve set over a bowl and stir the ingredients to pass them through it. Whisk them together.
6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites just until they start to hold their shape, then gradually add the sugar, beating until the whites hold firm, glossy peaks. If you need the mixer bowl, gently slide the whites into another bowl. (There's no need to wash the mixer bowl.)

Stiffly beaten egg whites cling to the tip of the whisk.

7. Put the softened butter and almond flour-sugar mixture in the mixer bowl and using the paddle attachment, beat at medium speed, scraping the bowl as needed, for 3 minutes, or until very smooth. With the mixer running, tip one egg yolk one at a time into the mixer bowl, letting it fully incorporate into the batter before adding the next yolk. Then add the whole egg(s) and beat for an additional minute. Add the rose-flavored milk, as well as the rose extract, and beat for 1 minute more. Add the flour in three quick additions and turn off the machine as soon as the flour is incorporated into the mixture.
8. With a whisk, stir in one-third of the egg whites to lighten the batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and working with a light touch, alternately fold in the remaining whites in two additions. Do this as quickly and as gently as you can.

Lighten the batter by folding in the whipped egg whites.
9. To prepare the loaf, spray the sides of the Bundt pan or parchment-lined loaf pan with oil. Toss fresh raspberries with about 1 tablespoon sifted all-purpose or gluten-free flour (the flour prevents the berries from sinking in the batter). There is no need to coat frozen or partially thawed raspberries with flour. Gently fold the raspberries into the batter. Alternatively, as in the photos below, you can scrape one third of the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread to even it. Make 3 rows of berries down the length of the pan - don't let the berries touch the sides of the pan - then cover the berries with half of the remaining batter. Make 3 more rows of berries and carefully cover these with the last of the batter. Please note: this was fussy work, and in the end, I preferred folding in the raspberries. I did not use streusel when I made the loaf, but you can certainly add it, in a middle layer on on the top.
9a. To prepare a loaf, lower the oven temperature to 300°F, and bake the cake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The top of the cake should be a lovely brown and feel springy to the touch, and the cake will have started to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 5 minutes, then unmold it, invert it, and let it cool to room temperature on the rack.

For my first bake, I dutifully made three rows of raspberries.  Because I failed to toss the
raspberries with flour, the berries sank to the bottom of the loaf, which made me very unhappy.
A light dusting of all-purpose or gluten-free flour will ensure
that the berries stay suspended in the batter. 

10. To prepare a Bundt cake, spray a Bundt pan with oil, or coat with softened butter, then place on a cookie sheet (which will make it easier to pull in and out of the oven). Fresh raspberries should be tossed with a little flour to avoid sinking to the bottom of the loaf. Alternatively, frozen raspberries don't require the flour coating, and don't need to be defrosted (although using partially frozen berries is recommended). Put about three to four cups of the batter on the bottom of the Bundt pan and smooth until the batter is even (so the cake will cleanly invert), otherwise gooey streusel will stick to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle a generous one-third of the streusel over the batter. Spread the remaining batter evenly smoothing with a spatula. (You may have a little batter remaining in the bowl.) Sprinkle the rest of the streusel on top and gently press down into the batter - this will be crunchy and delicious to eat.
10a. Bake for Bundt cake 30 minutes at 350°F. Quickly open the door and rotate the pan. Reduce temperature to 325°F. Bake the cake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let rest for about 10 minutes, then unmold it onto a decorative serving plate, and let it cool to room temperature. (Note: When using frozen berries, bake for 45 minutes at 350°F and then at 325°F for an additional 45 minutes. Check the batter with a toothpick and continue to bake, if needed).
11. The cake keeps well. It can be kept, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for at least 4 days.

The humble loaf made without a streusel topping.


  1. Beautiful cake.
    Will this recipe work in a different cake form? I don't have a bundt pan.

  2. Yes, this recipe will work in a standard 9-x-5-inch loaf/bread pan. If you scroll down to the recipe, I give specific directions (along with different ingredient measurements) for making less batter to fit in a bread pan in lieu of a larger Bundt cake. I think the Bundt cake is beautiful and gives the presentation a party flair. The loaf of bread is more humble. Either way, it is the same batter, so it is equally delicious. I found my Bundt silicon mold at Marshall's for an excellent price, so keep an eye out for a deal at discount shopping stores, such as Ross or Tuesday Morning. I'm always on the hunt for a good deal. Thanks for dropping a note. We love to receive comments and questions.


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