Earth Day began in 1970 in the United States after a senator witnessed the widespread devastation left by a Californian oil spill. Inspired by the student anti-war movement he wanted to infuse the public with the same degree of energy about the need to protect our planet.
He announced a day of mobilisation at which 20 million Americans stood up to demonstrate in favour of environmental awareness. Earth Day is now observed around the world by over a billion people and is a wonderful opportunity to get involved in fun activities to promote and support a cause that is so important for the future of our children.
Baking this cake, which uses some of nature’s most delicate and health-giving ingredients, is just one of the ways you can remind yourself of the value of our planet. In spring, the hedgerows are filled with climbing roses, which later produce their vibrant Vitamin C-rich rosehip fruits.
Colourful crocus flowers yield one of the world’s most expensive and delicate spices: saffron. And there is nothing more earthy than a ginger root, which we dig from the ground to add warmth and spiciness
to our baking.
Publication: ‘A Year of Cake’ page 70
Saffron, Rose Hip and Ginger Cake
- 2 x 20cm round loose-bottomed sandwich tins
- 50 ml buttermilk
- ½ tsp saffron threads
- 200 g unsalted butter softened
- 225 g caster sugar
- 4 medium eggs lightly beaten
- 225 g self-raising flour sifted
- 2 tbsp rose hip syrup
- 2 tbsp hot boiled water
- 350 g full-fat cream cheese
- ¼ tsp saffron threads
- 350 ml double cream
- 1 tbsp rose hip syrup
- 1 tbsp icing sugar sifted (optional)
- 200 g ready-made ginger preserve
- pinch of saffron threads to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Grease and line two 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich tins.
- Gently heat the buttermilk in a small pan with the saffron for just a couple of minutes, to help bring out some of the yellow colour. Do not allow to boil. Take off the heat and leave to cool completely, allowing the colour and flavour to infuse.
- Beat the butter and sugar using a wooden spoon or electric whisk until light and fluffy. Slowly add the beaten eggs, beating well after each addition, and adding a tablespoon of flour to prevent curdling. Fold in the remaining flour followed by the infused buttermilk and mix until well combined.
- Divide the mixture between the tins and bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Leave in the tins to cool for 5–10 minutes before turning out on to a sheet of greaseproof paper upside down. Remove the lining from the bottom of the cakes.
- Mix the rose hip syrup and hot water, then brush the mixture over the cakes while they are still warm. Leave the cakes to cool completely.
- Make the frosting. Lightly beat the cream cheese to loosen it a little, then add the saffron and cream. Mix together until thick and creamy.
- Add the syrup, and icing sugar if you like a sweeter frosting, and mix until well combined. Set aside for a few minutes to allow the saffron to release its yellow colour a little.
- Mix the frosting again to incorporate any leeched colour from the saffron. Place one cake layer on your favourite plate (level any doming with a serrated knife if you need a straighter bottom for it to sit flat), then cover with a thin layer of frosting. Spread about 120g of the ginger preserve on top of the frosting, then top with the second cake layer.
- Using a spatula or palette knife, cover the whole cake with a very thin layer of frosting – a ‘crumb coat’ – then place in the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up a little.
- Cover the cake with a full layer of frosting, then transfer the remainder to a piping bag fitted with your favourite rosette nozzle. Pipe two rings of stars around the edges of the top of the cake, leaving enough room in the centre on which to spread the remaining preserve. Decorate by placing a pinch of saffron threads in the middle.