That is the case for me and Black Star Pastry‘s strawberry and watermelon cake.
The name of this cake would already leave heads spinning. Strawberry and watermelon, and throw rose into the mix? What a whimsical flavour combination! I have to say that I have not seen watermelon take center-stage of any cake prior to this one. I was excited to try this cake for myself to see if the flavours actually work.
Sadly, I do not live in Sydney and I can’t just hop over to Newtown to get a bite of this. The only way is to make one using the recipe that I’ve saved from Gourmet Traveller Australia magazine.
Though the recipe is pretty straightforward, I felt like I was wandering through a foreign territory; I had a vague idea of how it should look but had no clue how it should taste.
As I begin to assemble the cake, I realised that my almond dacquoise layer is thinner than it should be as I usually bake them thinner than suggested in this recipe. The flavours were pretty phenomenal though.
The moment I took a bite of the rosewater macerated watermelon, I knew that the cake would be more than just interesting. The hints of floral was seamless with the sweetness of the watermelon.
The cake in its entirety look simply stunning. It’s like a picture perfect afternoon cake. Its taste was beautiful too – a light, chewy almond cake with a light perfume of rose flavour running through the whole cake.
I am always a tad hesitant when it comes to rose flavoured cakes/baked goodies because of my terrifying encounters with bandung (a rose flavoured drink) or rose syrup when I was a kid. However, this cake is the exception; I have no reservations about the rose flavour in it.
It’s been barely a day since I made this cake but I’m all raring to make it once again!
Black Star Chris’ Strawberry and watermelon cake
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller Australia
The recipe has been published in the Gourmet Traveller Australia magazine . I followed it pretty closely but I used the almond dacquoise recipe that I’m most familiar with -from my Le Cordon Bleu school days.
I have broken down the recipe into parts so it’s easier to read and follow. The almond dacquoise has to be quite thick if you refer to the picture in the magazine. My mistake was when I decided to split the mixture into two baking trays instead of one. The flavours of the cake was still wonderful but I think I ended up with a much shorter cake.
150g ground almond
150g icing sugar
225g egg whites, room temperature
128g caster sugar
Rose scented cream
300 ml double cream (at least 33% fat)
30 gm caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater
250 gm seedless watermelon, thinly sliced, about 0.5cm
2 tbsp caster sugar
500g strawberries, halved/quartered
10-12 red seedless grapes, halved
2 tbsp caster sugar
40g ground almond
1 tbsp silvered pistachios (I used almonds instead because I didn’t have pistachios. Almond silvers work too but pistachios will give the cake that pop of colour.)
1 tbsp dried rose petals (optional)
1. For almond dacquoise: preheat oven to 200C. Sift together almond meal, icing sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk until uniform. In a separate grease-free bowl, prepare a meringue. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks then gradually add in caster sugar and whisk until stiff peaks.
2. Gently fold in the almond meal mixture and transfer onto one large baking tray (30x40cm) lined with baking parchment and spread from end to end evenly with a palette knife. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and when it springs back to touch. Be careful not to overbake this as it will quickly turn into a large biscuit. Set aside to cool on a cooling rack before cutting and assembling.
2. Macerating the watermelon: Slice the watermelon about 0.5cm thickness and cut them into large rectangles as much as possible (this will help you form a neat layer on the cake later). Arrange watermelon slices in a single layer on a wire rack. Sprinkle with rosewater, then scatter the caster sugar over the watermelon slices. Stand to macerate (30 minutes), then pat dry with paper towels.
3. Meanwhile, for rose-scented cream, whisk cream and sugar in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, gradually add rosewater and whisk until stiff peaks form (do not over-whisk).
4. Assembling the cake: Cut the dacquoise layer into half and trim the sides so you get two neat, equal size rectangles. Spread one-third of rose cream evenly over one half of dacquoise, scatter with half the almond meal, then top it with a layer with watermelon slices. Do ensure that there are no gaps.
5. Scatter over remaining almond meal, spread over half remaining cream. Top with remaining dacquoise, spread over remaining cream and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours).
6. Macerating the strawberries: Combine strawberries, remaining rosewater and remaining sugar in a bowl, toss to combine and set aside to macerate (15 minutes).
7. Dry the strawberries and arrange them on the top of cake, gently pushing into cream. Trim edges of cake, scatter over grapes, pistachios and petals, and serve.
*Storage tip: The cake is best eaten on the day it is made or the day after. You can keep it in an air tight container in the refrigerator.