Rosewater & Pistachio Vanilla Cake

Yesterday I wrote a post about my struggle to produce my latest cake. The goal was a harmonious blend of rose, pistachio, strawberry and vanilla. After struggling with my cake batter and then again with my buttercream I was feeling defeated. Then, last night I just into it for the first time and boy was I surprised when it was much better than I feared. In all actuality it was pretty awesome. This attempt was all about flavor and flavor was what I got. 

That being said it wasn’t without it’s issues, but I was pleasantly surprised when aroma’s of rose tickled you sense of smell while your pallet tasted the back and forth of the pistachio, strawberry, and vanilla. The biggest issue was the cake but I was expecting that. This cake came out dense, VERY dense. The crumb was good and the chew was OK. Overall it was just dense and dry. I am sure the issues could be resolved if I worked on the technique of this recipe again. Unfortunately it will have to wait till next year to have another go at it. With structuring my cooking and baking with a seasonal focus I have cakes lined up for the remainder of spring. Working in the kitchen this way just means I need to be really focused on note taking.

A while back I wrote a post about how I manage all my recipes. Sure I love cookbooks but when I go to cook I transcribe the recipe into it’s own Pages document. This allows me to both convert the measurements from imperial to metric and to make all my notes based on my kitchen, technique, and tools.

After all the debacle’s with the cake I made a lot of adjustments to the recipe with my thoughts on how to improve it. The recipe I am going to post has NOT been tested so I am not sure how well it will do but it should yield  a much better result than what I got. That being said if you end up with what I got fir the final product I don’t think you’ll be disappointed either.

Rosewater Vanilla Cake (4)

Rosewater & Pistachio Vanilla Cake

To make a layered cake you will need to double this recipe. With the larger mixer I did all mine together but it you have a standard sized mixer you will want to do it in two batches. Amounts in parentheses is the doubled amount in metric.

For the Cake:

  • (180 grams) 1 ½ Self-Rising Flour, sifted
  • (¼ tsp)  ⅛ teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • (340 grams) ¾ cup Unsalted Butter, softened
  • (300 grams)  ¾ cup Granulated Sugar
  • (13.5 ounces/6 eggs)  3 Jumbo Eggs, separated
  • (1 ½ fl ounces)  4 ½ teaspoons Rose Water
  • (½ fl ounce ) 1 ½ teaspoons Vanilla
  • (120 grams)  60 grams Pistachio Nuts, finely chopped


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease two 9×9 inch pans with nonstick spray and line with parchment. Measure out the dry ingredients and set aside.

The butter needs to be softer than room temp but not melted. Add it to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add in the sugar and beat till smooth, lightly, and fluffy.

Separate the eggs.

In a bowl with a pour spout or a large glass measuring cup, add the rose water and the vanilla to the yolks and whisk smooth. Slowly add the yolk mixture to the butter. Beat until light, smooth, and fluffy.

Add the dry ingredients and beat just until combined. (If you do not have a second bowl for your stand mixer pour the contents into a large enough bowl to work in the egg whites. Clean the bowl and move on to the next step.)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, whip the whites to stiff peaks. Fold the whites in to the batter until there are no streaks visible. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans.

Bake the cake for 20-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let fully cool in the pan. Turn out onto a wire rack and remove the parchment. (If doing this the day before assembling, wrap in plastic wrap and store in fridge. When you are ready to assemble remove from the fridge and unwrap. There is no need to let it come to room temperature. In fact it will be easier to work with cold.)

For the Filling:

To help elevate the vanilla flavor to balance with the others I opted for a pastry cream filling. This was also a great option as the buttercream only uses the whites. This will use up your yolks.

Pastry Cream from Miette

In a small sauce pan add:

  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1 Vanilla Bean, split lengthwise

Bring to a boil then immediately remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 1 hour. After the vanilla bean has steeped remove the pod. If it has broken up, strain through a fine mesh strainer.

In a medium sauce pan add:

  • 7 Egg Yolks, large (I always use jumbo)
  • ½ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Cornstarch

Whisk together until smooth. Slowly add the vanilla milk constantly whisking. Once everything is smooth and well blended place the sauce pan on the stove over medium heat. Continuously whisk over the heat until thickened and slowly bubbling. Immediately remove from the heat and let rest for 10 minutes.

  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, room temperature

Whisk in the butter. Pour the contents into a bowl and lay a peace of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream to prevent it from forming a skin. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to three days. The mixture should be well chilled before using so it doesn’t seep out of your dessert.

Swiss Buttercream

For flavoring your buttercream most recipes will tell you how much flavoring by cup of frosting. This buttercream is 7 ounces per cup.

  • Pistachio Buttercream = 32 grams Pistachio Paste per cup
  • Strawberry Buttercream = 3 tablespoons Strawberry Sauce per cup

In the bowl of your stand mixer add:

  • 240 ml Egg Whites (7 jumbo Eggs)
  • 454 grams Superfine is better
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla

Using a pot that your mixing bowl can sit on but not touch the bottom add about an inch of water. (Make sure the bowl does NOT touch the water. Bring the water to a simmer (not boiling, just steaming), place the bowl over and whisk until the temperature reaches 140º – 160ºF (5-10 minutes).

Place the bowl on  the mixer, whip to stiff peaks (5 minutes). Hold a cold flexible ice pack on the bottom of the bowl to help chill the mixture. (If you don’t have a flexible ice pack you may need to whip it longer.)

With the mixer running, add all the butter and shortening in small chunks, about a tablespoon or so at a time. Once all the fats are added whip for another minute or so till it looks nice and fluffy again.

  • 2 cups Unsalted Butter (1 pound)
  • 1 ½ cups Shortening

You can use all butter (for a total of 3 ½ cups) but the butter could soften too easily in higher temperatures. Using a portion of shortening will help stabilize the frosting.

Mix for another 1 ½ minutes. Should look VERY light and fluffy. Add:

  • 390 grams Powdered Sugar, all at once.

Slowly start the mixer to incorporate the sugar. Once it’s worked in raise the speed and mix for another 1-2 minutes. Once you have the consistency you like portion out the icing if doing different flavors. Add you chosen flavorings and mix in well.

Pistachio Paste

(You can purchase the paste but if you want to make your own here’s a rough idea of how to make it.)

In a food processor add:

2 cups Pistachios, shelled and unsalted.

Toast your pistachio’s in the oven under a low temperature (maybe 300ºF for no more than 10-15 minutes. You don’t want them to pick up color just get hot. Warming the nuts will help them break down better. Add the nuts to the food processor and process until they breakdown to a paste. (You can also add a little sugar to take the bitter edge off the paste if you prefer.)

It’s important to know the stages of the grind. First you will have chopped nuts, then a fine powder, then it will look corse and wet, then it will clump together, and finally it will break down and become a spreadable consistency.

Cake Construction Featured Image

To assemble the cake:

Place one layer on your cake board. Then pipe a boarder. (This will not be seen so it doesn’t need to be pretty. It’s about containing the filling.) Fill the space within the boarder with your vanilla pastry cream.


Carefully place the second layer on top, pushing down gently but taking care not to squeeze out of the filling. Spread the pistachio buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. Pipe your desired boarders and decorations. I also decorated with whole pistachios. For a final touch I dusted my cake in edible rose petals that I ground to a powder in a spice grinder.

Rosewater Vanilla Cake (2)


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