Almond rose fairy cakes

In the eighteenth century, cooks regularly baked cakes with distilled rose or orange flower water. Today, it is important to buy a good-quality distilled rose water: the best are from the Middle East.   These cakes keep well in an airtight container. You can buy crystallised rose petals if you can’t find any unsprayed home-grown roses.  This recipe comes from my new book National Trust Simply Baking.

Makes 12 fairy cakes

Almond rose cakes

115g/4oz butter, softened

115g/4oz caster sugar

1 tablespoon distilled rose water

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 medium eggs, lightly beaten

30g/1oz plain flour

115g/4oz ground almonds

1 ½ tablespoons milk


Unsprayed rose petals

whipped egg white

caster sugar

Rose icing

140g/5oz icing sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon distilled rose water

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.   Place 12 paper cupcake cases in a bun tray.   Don’t use the larger paper muffin cases – they’re too big.

To make the cakes, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.   Then gradually beat in the rose water and almond extract. Bat in about half the beaten eggs, then sift the flour over the mixture and beat in, followed by remaining egg.   Mix in the almonds, followed by the milk.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases.   Bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes are well risen and golden.   Test by lightly pressing with your fingers: the sponge will spring back if cooked. Transfer to a wire rack and leave until cold before icing.

While the cakes are cooling, make the sugared rose petals. They need to dry for about an hour.    Take a freshly picked, unsprayed rose.   Ideally, it should be heavily scented such as a damask rose or a Rosa Rugosa.    Separate the petals and snip off the white heel at the base of the petal.   Beat a little egg white, and using a paint brush, delicately coat the first petal in egg white, before showering it with caster sugar.   Lay out on some greaseproof paper to dry.   Repeat with the process remaining petals.   They sugary coating needs to harden before using on the cakes.

To make the rose icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl.   Using a wooden spoon, stir in the rose water, followed by the lemon juice until you have a thick, smooth icing.   Drop a teaspoonful of icing on to the centre of the first cake and tilt the cake slightly so that the icing spreads out evenly over the surface of the cake. If it’s very thick, spread out a little with a wet knife.   Repeat with the remaining cakes.  

Once the icing begins to set, gently press in a sugared rose petal or two onto each cake.   Leave until the icing is firm.



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