4.27.2019

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden was the theme for a dinner party we attended in January.

Each of us was assigned a course, but otherwise, we were charged to interpret the song - made famous by Lynn Anderson - however we liked.

For an appetizer, Barbara brought an improbably delicious Brussels sprouts and cheese spread. After all, she never promised us a rose garden.

Connie, our host, made delicious roasted chicken thighs with rosemary and a side of garden vegetables.

Kate brought a salad. It was served in garden-esque rows. Whodathunk a homophone for dinner?

Me? I am just too boring. I took it literally and made a dessert with rosewater.

It was this fantastic lemony-frosted pistachio cake that was slightly rose-y... but not enough to make you think you were supping on hand lotion.

The recipe was from The New York Times and is the creation of British chef Nigel Slater.

I used the little bag of ground pistachios I brought back from Bronte, Sicily, but any unsalted pistachio will work just fine.

With spring just around the corner, be sure to take time to smell (and taste) the roses!

~ David

Lemon-Frosted Pistachio Cake
Recipe by Nigel Slater

8 ounces butter
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup finely ground unsalted pistachios
1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon rosewater
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
whole shelled unsalted pistachios, for garnish


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch nonstick cake pan with parchment paper.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle, cream together the butter and superfine sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the ground pistachios and almonds. Add the orange juice, orange zest and rosewater, and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour; do not overmix.

Scoop the mixture into the cake pan, and bake until the top is firm and a light golden brown, about 40 minutes. Lightly cover the top of the cake with foil and continue baking until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry, about 10 minutes more. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for several minutes, then remove and cool on a rack.

When the cake is cool, mix the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl, and pour over the cake. While the frosting is still soft, sprinkle with the whole shelled pistachios. Allow the icing to set for 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 12.


38 comments:

  1. I love to get a Sunday morning smile from you ! Have immense respect for Nigel Slater's good common sense so shall attempt even tho I am not (you know the rest !) . . . Methinks you have the right idea about rosewater: some of our Australian spice merchants do not know where to stop when preparing their version of ras el hanout - have had to throw out a fortune's worth of the stuff smelling of hand cream or soap . . . :) ! Looks moreish, David !

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    1. I find that significant restraint is required for certain extracts, Eha, especially rose and almond. However, used well, they can add so much to a dish!

      Glad I was able to make you smile this morning!

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  2. it looks nice. there is also a gorgeous pistachio loaf in richard olney's simple french... rose-water: I uses Cortas: not a great fan of the massey one. love this sort of heavy cakes. stef

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    1. I prefer Cortas, too, Stef. You need to use very little Massey - gotta be careful! Will check out the Olney recipe! Thanks!

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  3. What a fun idea for a dinner party. Gosh, I'm not sure I'd come up with anything. Brilliant to make a rosewater pistachio cake.

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    1. I know you would make something incredibly special, Ron! I almost made Prinsesstårta with marzipan roses!

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    2. Prinsesstårta would be a grand idea.

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    3. It’s my favorite cake. Not exactly macho, but my tastebuds don’t know that!

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  4. Excellent dessert idea; not boring at all ! :-)

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    1. Well, maybe not boring, Davorka, but nowhere near as clever as the others!

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  5. Your cake looks beautiful--and someone had better use rosewater with that theme!

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  6. Fun post! I love pistachios -- especially in desserts. This cake looks perfect, and what a totally fun themed dinner party that must've been. Thanks to you I have rosewater in my pantry. :-)

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    1. Yikes! Have I started a run on rosewater, Valentina? It was a fun party - next month is “Think Pink!”

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  7. Anything made with my favorite nut, pistachio, and rose water can't be boring, David. Looks fantastic.

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    1. I wonder why more people don’t use pistachios, Frank. They are probably my favorite, although I do love a good almond!

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  8. David, this looks AMAZING! I have several friends who grow pistachios in the Central Valley. I will be sure to send this to them — they are always looking for recipes. - Kirsten

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    1. Thanks, Kirsten! It is a really great way to combine pistachios and almonds in one beautiful cake!

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  9. David, I have to try this cake asap! We love pistachios and we love nut cake. The rosewater makes it just wonderful!

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    1. I have friends who have already made this and they loved it, Kelly - the rosewater really does add something special!

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  10. Rosewater is something I don't use all that often. Mainly, I suppose, because I often have orange blossom water on hand, and even though the two have much different "nose" characteristics, I find one can often be substituted for the other. At least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. :-) Anyway, really nice dish -- thanks.

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    1. I think this would be really good with orange blossom water, but I would definitely give the rosewater a try, John!

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  11. David, your cake looks and sounds wonderful. I'm glad you went easy on the rosewater (as I knew you would!). Too many people overdo it and it is, as you say, like "supping on hand lotion."

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    1. Jean - I love floral flavors but they can be so overwhelming - especially rose!

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  12. I like the idea of 'themed dinner parties.' It looks like you promised AND delivered a true rose garden with your cake!

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    1. Thanks, Fran! Themed dinners are so much fun - the last once was Think Pink!

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  13. Oh my gosh, this is just gorgeous, David! I saw your pretty picture posted on IG about this recipe and now that I've read the ingredients I would love to try this cake soon!! I still have rose water that I bought on a visit to a Middle Eastern market with a friend. I usually just put it in my tea, but this will be a delicious new way to use some of it!

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    1. How fun that you use the rosewater in your tea, Marcelle! I think you will like this cake!

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  14. I'm trying to think what I'd make with a theme like this. Probably take it literally, like you. Something with rose in it, or on it.

    I adore cakes like this, filled with ground nuts and a spritz of exotic aromats.

    Now, how can I get that tune out of my head?

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    1. John - I have been regretting using that song title ever since the post went live. I can’t get out of my head, either! My apologies!

      As for the cake, maybe you and I took the more literal route because we love rosewater? No many people use it - or even have it - so they go other directions...

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  15. Rose water is definitely a challenging ingredient -- your cake looks like a great way to use it. I love the Middle Eastern hints of all the ingredients. Maybe there were roses in the Garden of Eden. Maybe oranges, lemons, and pistachios. Definitely almonds.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    best... mae

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    1. Hi Mae! I love your Garden of Eden thoughts! That would make a wonderful theme for a dinner. I’m already thinking what a Paradise cake might look like!

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  16. First, kudos to Connie for the clever theme!
    Second, we made the cake the day after I read the post and it was FABULOUS! Our guests loved it, too. The only problem is that it is SO good, it is easy to have a second piece right after the first and then eat the rest for breakfast the next day!

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    1. Our themes are what make these dinners so much fun, Susan!

      So glad you liked the cake - addictive is to mild a word, isn’t it?

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  17. Oh, I can only imagine how delicious this cake would be! And I have to say, the line about "supping on hand lotion" about killed me! YES! Overkill with the rosewater and that's what it's like! hahaha! Too funny!

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    1. But in moderation, rose water in baked goods (and savory dishes, too) is irresistible!

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