Rose and Cardamom Cake

Although I’m not myself a major fan of rose flavouring in food, this recipe will show you how a light touch with rose water, paired with cardamom, makes an elegant and delicious GF cake.

I’ve used a specialist tin as per the photos, but you could use a standard traybake tin or a round cake tin if you prefer.

Makes: 10 – 24 portions (depending on tin)


For the cake:

  • 285g gluten-free flour
  • 120g white caster sugar
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder (only required if your GF flour is plain, not self-raising)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (about 6 whole green cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed)
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, 1/2 of finely grated zest and all of juice
  • 6 large eggs, separated (they should total 360g-380g when weighed in their shells)
  • 125ml (120g if weighing) vegetable oil
  • 160ml / 160g water
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp rose water
  • Butter, margarine, or oil to grease tin

For the buttercream:

  • 150g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp rose water
  • 300g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting (optional)
  • Pink or red food colour gel


  • A ‘Fillables’ 8-hole set of tins (10 total portions – I had enough batter to do a 2nd run for 2 more)

    or, a standard traybake pan 9x12″ / 23x30cm (24 small portions)
    or, a round cake tin 9-10″ / 24-26cm diameter (12 large wedge portions)
  • 2 large and 1 medium mixing bowls
  • Mortar and pestle (if crushing whole cardamom seeds)
  • Electric mixer (hand-held or stand)
  • Large metal spoon, for folding
  • Cooling rack
  • Spatula
  • Piping bag with decorative nozzle

Making the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted). Grease your tin and get 3 mixing bowls ready.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder (if using), cardamom, and lemon zest together with a fork.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high speed.
  4. In another large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the oil, water, lemon juice, and rose water until doubled in volume and fluffy; again, start at low speed and gradually increase to high speed. You don’t need to clean the beaters from the whites.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the yolk mixture and fold together manually until fully combined and smooth.
  6. Add one-third of the egg whites, folding briskly, to loosen the mixture. Then add the rest of the whites and fold carefully until no white lumps or streaks remain.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on tin (turning tin halfway through for even baking) until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin on a cooling rack prior to turning out.

Making the buttercream:

  1. Whisk the butter, vanilla, and rose water on medium-high speed until creamy.
  2. Gradually add the icing sugar, whisking at low speed and stopping to scrape down the bowl every so often, until it’s all in. Give the bowl a really good scrape-down, and continue whisking for another minute or so.
  3. Fit your nozzle to your piping bag, and squeeze stripes of the food colour vertically inside the bag. Transfer the buttercream to the bag.
  4. When the cake has fully cooled, decorate as you prefer. You can also dust the frosted cake(s) with icing sugar.

Decoration Ideas
Using the Fillables tin meant that I used a palette knife and spread most of the buttercream (which I coloured pink) in the centre, and then I striped a piping bag with red colour and used the remaining buttercream for the tops.

You don’t need to use a piping bag if you don’t want – you could add the food colour to the buttercream (or not), then use a spatula/palette knife to decorate the top (and sides).

To be ultra fancy, sprinkling some edible dried rose petal pieces will really accentuate the mild rose flavour in the cake and frosting. Pistachios (unsalted, skinned) could also be chopped or ground finely and sprinkled over for an extra flavour hit and some crunchy texture.

You could also add a touch of pink food colouring to the cake if you prefer – this helps signal the rose flavour if you don’t intend to decorate with rose petals or coloured buttercream.

Alternate Serving Suggestion
I used two 8″/20cm sandwich tins and put them together as a layer cake:


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