What we are aiming for here is a cake that will shout “Ottolenghi Eat Your Heart Out”
So – with apologies to all those whose hedgerow flowers are now wilting under the weight of wet snow - here is the final stage of theCooking with Primroses Spring foraging series. This is the bit where you make the crystallised flowers to decorate the top of a Primrose Easter cake and I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a couple of hours before the visitors arrive and the holiday madness kicks in.
The real joy of making these top-of-the-cake decorations is that you cannot rush the process. You have to slow down because otherwise you will end up with a soggy bloom. Get it right and you should end up with a dozen or so beautiful primrose flowers which will glisten atop your cake, adding foraging bling and Primrose panache to the proceedings.
What we are aiming for here is a cake that will shout “Ottolenghi Eat Your Heart Out” when you walk triumphantly into the room with it on Easter day proudly (see the picture; doesn’t do the finished cake justice but you get the idea.)
Modesty aside, this really is the most beautiful cake I have ever made. One testing taster commented that the finished cake looked like a work of art and I was gratified to hear the only thing disturbing the sound of a silent reverence for its deliciousness once sliced and served was the squeaky and very determined scrape of forks on plates!
If you have acted upon Cooking with Primroses Parts I & II then you already have at your disposal a delicious Primrose & Cardamom curd which you are going to use, whipped into cream, to fill and top the cake. But first, you need to make the primrose flowers that will decorate the entire confection.
Crystallising your primrose flowers
To get started, lightly beat a small egg white in a bowl and find a fine-tipped watercolour paintbrush, which you will be using to carefully paint each petal of the primrose flower in albumen (egg white). This is a delicate operation and cannot be rushed so SLOW DOWN and enjoy it.
Tackle each bloom individually and paint both the top and the underside of each petal before covering with caster sugar. I find the simplest way to do this is to make a small pile of the sugar, dip the top of the primrose flower in it and use a teaspoon to cover the underside of the petals.
Handling the crystallised flowers once coated requires care too; you will need to let your flowers dry or “crystallise” overnight so before you start coating them, prepare a wire cooling rack by covering it in baking parchment.
Assembling the cake
To finally assemble your Easter Primrose Cloud Cake make a plain victoria sponge in two halves. Allow to cool and then spread the Primrose & Cardamom curd over the top of the bottom half. Whip your double cream with two generous tablespoons of the curd and spread through the middle of the sponge sandwich and swoosh across the top. Don’t skimp with the cream filling or topping or you will spoil the luxurious effect.
Once you have assembled the cake with its curd cream topping and filling, decorate with your crystallised primrose flowers (which can also be eaten).
Serve with a sense of achievement!
Victoria sandwich sponge (use your own favourite recipe)
Large carton of double cream for whipping
A small jar of your pre-made Primrose & Cardamom curd
12 Primrose flower heads for crystallising
One small egg white to coat the Primrose flowers
Caster sugar to sprinkle on the coated Primrose flowers
Susan Clark is associate editor of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine. Follow her: @suzresurgence