Rose and almond syrup cake

This light-textured Middle-Eastern inspired syrup cake can also be baked in a round cake pan.
Heart-shaped syrup cake on pink backgroundPhotography William Meppem, Styling Sophia Young

This cake is infinitely adaptable. For a gluten-free cake version, substitute gluten-free breadcrumbs for the white breadcrumbs.

It is flavoured with rosewater, which is produced by distillation and is a by-product of rose oil production. Bottles can be found in delis, Middle Eastern and Indian grocers with potency varying between brands. Also, keep in mind once opened the flavour can fade, therefore it’s always an idea to sniff and taste test before using to gauge if you need more or less.

A common question with syrup cakes is when to add the syrup. The rule of thumb with syrup cakes, is that either the cake is hot or the syrup. This is to ensure that the syrup adequately soaks into the cake. For dense cakes, pierce them first with a skewer to speed absorption.




Preheat oven 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease an 18cm heart-shaped cake pan; line base and side with baking paper.


Combine ground almonds, breadcrumbs and baking powder in a medium bowl. Beat egg yolks and sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in rosewater and cream until just combined; stir in breadcrumb mixture.


Beat egg whites in a small bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into almond mixture, in two batches. Pour mixture into pan; top with half the almonds.


Bake cake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cake will have a slight dip in it.


Meanwhile, to make syrup, stir sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil; simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in rose buds. Cool for 10 minutes to infuse flavours.


Stand cake in pan for 5 minutes; pour half the hot syrup over the cake. Cool.


Turn cake, top-side up onto a plate. Scatter with pistachios and extra roasted almonds. Serve with remaining syrup.

You could also make this cake in a deep 18cm round cake pan. This cake is best made on day of serving.

Test Kitchen tip

Orange syrup cake variation

You can also play around with the flavouring and use orange blossom water in place of the rosewater for a similar floral taste, or equally omit the flavoured water and use 2 teaspoons finely grated citrus zest – lemon, lime and orange, will all work well.

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