Wednesday Vignette – the rose experiment

I guess I’m not unique in that I have binge-watched The Great British Bake Off during this pandemic. A pattern I’ve noticed is that almost everyone attempting to use rose water in their creations gets told off because it’s too dominant. I agree. It’s a very tricky flavor to get right, and one of the main reasons I often don’t appreciate baklava; it’s almost always too damn strong!

Then one morning, soon after one of these rose thrashings, I was in the kitchen making rose hip soup from a mix. This probably sounds a bit strange to anyone who is not a Swede, but this is a childhood delicacy, and every time someone returns or visits from Sweden, this is on the wishlist for them to bring. Anyway, the thought occurred to me, that maybe – just maybe – a little of the perfumy rose water might taste good with the rose hip soup. After all, they ARE from the same plant. Said and done. I put a tiny drop on a table spoon, drained the excess back in the bottle, and ladled the soup into the almost clean spoon. Seriously, the amount of that potent rose water was miniscule, but together it tasted heavenly! It lifted what was already very tasty to an entirely new level! Delicious!!

So, from there, I was off on a culinary thought experiment. What if I could thicken the rose-enhanced soup to a more jelly like consistency, and use it as a filling in a petit four type little cup made with an almond short crust? I used both sweet and bitter almonds. Come to think of it, almonds too, are members of the Rosaceae family, so if I could pull this off, it would be a botanical family affair. Pretty cool when you think of it from a gardening standpoint, I think!

Marzipan from Denmark made with California almonds, rose water from Lebanon, rose hip soup from Sweden – all from Rosaceae. The Rosaceae family includes 4,828 species in 91 genera, and many of great economic importance. In terms of commercial rose hip production, the rose that is predominantly used is Rosa dumalis (syn. Rosa canina) or glaucous dog rose.

Anyway, this was easier to think up than to perfect, but happy to report that my first attempt wasn’t too bad. There is hope. The first batch became a calcium enriched version, when I dropped half an eggshell into the mixer. Duh! I picked most of it out, but there was a little extra crunch here and there. I greased my hitherto unused cake molds VERY conscientiously, but those little elegant servings I had envisioned never materialized. We had to spoon them out of the molds as they wouldn’t release. Great flavor, but the textures and the handling weren’t great.

I put a thin slice of marzipan in each, to prevent the chance of a “soggy bottom”. From that vantage point, I’m not sure it was needed, but it did enhance the almond, so it will stay. Two tablespoons of potato starch thickened the soup to a near perfect consistency, but the rose flavor I had so gingerly added before thickening, seemed to have mysteriously vaporized after bringing it back up to a boil. It tasted great, and then…. barely a hint. I wonder if it was the heat…? Next time, I’ll try adding the rose water last, to see if that makes a difference.

We added a dollop of whipped cream on top. I’m still thinking about that part – it would be better with something else, something “brighter”. As we were tasting and analyzing, my mind went straight to Calvados. Maybe if I add a sauce…? I think some of that good apple liquor might be beneficial in some form or other. And yes, if so – apples too, are members of Rosaceae.

Well, it’s easy to get carried away. Sometimes less is more, so I’ll keep that in mind when revising. My presentation skills are obviously lacking as well. So, not unexpectedly, no Star Baker for me this week. But, it’s fun to play, even if not in *that* league. As for the rose experiment, I think we can safely say it is ongoing. And I learned more about a great plant family.

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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12 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – the rose experiment

  1. bergstromskan says:

    I wish I had been in the jury

  2. Kris P says:

    Well, that was a fun departure. With continued experimentation, I expect you’ll show up on a bake-off one day, Anna! Here’s my WV:

    Happy baking!

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks Kris! It was fun, but I highly doubt I’ll ever set foot in a bake-off. LOL – those guys are in a completely different league! In the event that I would, I’d be that one who would wing it, and (likely) not get away with it for very long. Baking is interesting because it’s such a scientific thing. And, I’d be the first to tell you that chemistry was never my strong suit.

  3. I am a little embarrassed to admit I’ve never used, or even tasted, rosewater. Your little creation is darling though.

    Here’s my WV:

    • annamadeit says:

      You know, the only reason I had some sitting around was that we went to (and cooked for) a Lebanese international dinner party several years ago. It’s a pretty common flavor in Levantian cuisine, but – to my Scandinavian mind, at least – definitely not an easy one to use – judging from that our bottle is still nearly full after all that time. The challenge is beckoning…

  4. Julie says:

    My Indian husband’s family introduced me to rose water, and I do adore it. We use it for any dairy-based confection like milk fudge or rice pudding. Now, rose hip soup is intriguing me! I’ve got to find out about that!

  5. hb says:

    Next…one of thoe “jelly art cakes”? GBBS has been a wonderful distraction. Who could have imagined watching people bake could be so fascinating?

    Your little tart looks adorable, and delicious.

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