In Amsterdam, Roses are currently in full bloom. They seem to thrive in the sandy soil and climate. In my neighbourhood it seems that every other house has a rose or two, scrambling up the front wall, with roots often anchored in the tiniest of spaces. I am happy to have a Rambling Rector, growing in a roof terrace pot. It looks lovely against the chimney stack and produces a mass of tiny, white, fragrant blooms through May and June.
Even in windy weather it’s easy to catch the powerful scent of some of these city roses whilst walking along Amsterdam streets. It never fails to lift my spirits and is renowned as a tonic for the heart. As I see rose petals blowing around pavements on windy days I wish that more people knew how delicious and useful they are.
The simplest way to use them is raw, in salads or sandwiches. Any scented (clean and pesticide free) rose petals will add velvety beauty to both. They have a pleasant, fragrant and astringent taste and can be used in a variety of foods. At present my favourites are Rose Petal Cup Cakes and Rose Petal Butter. More on the butter another time, for now here is the recipe for Rose Petal Cup Cakes – heavily inspired by a lovely baking blog called The Pink Whisk.
Rose Petal Cup Cakes (makes 12)
For the cakes
150g butter (that’s half a standard block)
140g caster sugar (that’s a lot – I’m working on a sugar free version)
100g self raising flour
50g plain (all purpose) flour
2 tablespoons Rose water
6 large pieces of Turkish delight (or dried apricots / crystallised ginger etc)
For the topping
Rosehip (NL: Rozenbottel) conserve
(such as the delicious, organic, sugar-free Fiordifrutta from Rigoni di Asiago)
Rose petals and stamens (scented, clean, pesticide free)
Preheat oven to 180 C and put paper cases into a 12 cupcake baking tray.
Cut the dried fruit or Turkish delight into twelve pieces.
Into each paper case add one piece of fruit or Turkish delight.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
Add eggs, flour and rosewater, mixing well until a smooth consistency is achieved (I use a handheld mixer for this but a spoon and elbow grease will do equally well).
Half fill the paper cases with cake mixture.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a clean knife, inserted into a cake, comes out clean.
Remove cupcakes from the baking tray and allow to cool completely on a rack.
When you are ready to serve the cakes, smear the top of each with a little Rosehip conserve and sprinkle with whole or torn Rose petals and a few stamens.