Recipe Book: My Experiments With Baking

Cardamom-Rose-Pistachio Cake

This is a cake I had baked for our 6th wedding anniversary this year. I have never been a baker and starting my baking experience with this cake recipe was probably a disaster waiting to happen. But I did succeed, and my dear husband ended up loving this cake to death. So much that he made me bake it again within a month when we had extended family visiting us.

Enough storytelling. Moving on to the recipe…

For those of you who are reading this in India, I have tried to give appropriate alternatives to certain ingredients since it might be difficult to get your hands on some of them over there.

This recipe produces a two layered (or four layered, depending on your skill with the knife) 9-inch round cake. You’ll quickly realize just by reading the ingredient list that this cake is very appealing to Indian palette.



I insist that you do not get discouraged by the sheer number of ingredients. The preparation and baking itself is quite simple.


  Ingredient Measure Alternatives/Substitutes
Cake cake flour 3 cups A mix of cornstarch and maida

take 3 cup maida, remove 6 tablespoons from it, add 6 tablespoon cornstarch


sugar 1 1/2 cups

300 gm

In India, sugar crystals are larger than in the US, so grind it first without making it superfine. We want it to be a little more granulated than our pithisaakhar
baking powder 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon


cardamom powder 1/2 to 1 teaspoon I prefer making my own powder from cardamom pods for more robust flavour and smell
salt 1/2 teaspoon


pistachios 3-4 tablespoon


unsalted butter, softened


12 tablespoon

170 gm

egg whites 4 large eggs


milk 1 cup

240 ml


rosewater 1/2 teaspoon


Milk Syrup cardamom pods


4 to 5
sugar 5-6 tablespoon

75 gm


rosewater 1 1/2 teaspoon


milk 2 cup

475 ml


In India, use buffalo milk if you want a creamier syrup
Ricotta Filling confectioners’ sugar 3/4 cup

95 gm

Grind sugar to a fine pithisaakhar consistency


whole milk ricotta cheese 2 1/2 cups

680 gm

If you’re unable to find ricotta cheese, use fresh chakkaa instead


heavy cream 1/2 cup

120 ml


rosewater 1         teaspoon


Mascarpone Frosting cardamom powder 1/2 teaspoon
  confectioners’ sugar 1 cup

125 gm


  unsalted butter, softened 12 tablespoon

170 gm


  cold mascarpone cheese 1 cup

240 ml


If you’re unable to find mascarpone, substitute with fresh chakkaa
  Greek yogurt 1/4 cup



this is basically the same as fresh chakkaa
  rosewater 1 teaspoon


Candied Rose Petals sugar as needed
rose petals as needed


egg whites as needed



Preparation –

  • Hang ricotta in cheesecloth to strain the water. It takes up to 4 hours to completely remove the water. If it is fresh ricotta with minimal water content, or if you are substituting chakkaa, then you can skip this step.
  • Now on to the milk syrup.
    1. In a small saucepan/kadhai, combine milk and cardamom pods.
    2. Bring to a boil.
    3. Reduce the heat and simmer the milk until it reduces by half.
    4. Stir in the sugar and let the milk reduce further to about 1/3 of its original quantity (10 more minutes).
    5. Add rose water and keep aside.
  • For the cake
    1. Grease two 9-inch cake pans. Flour the pans evenly, tapping out the excess flour.
    2. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
    3. In a bowl, lightly whisk together egg whites, milk and rose water.
    4. Take the pistachios and grind them to fine powder. Make sure there are no pieces/shards of pistachios remaining. If by chance pieces get in, then little pockets of air will be created in the cake while baking. And your cake will deflate once it is cooled, creating uneven top which is bad for frosting.
    5. In another bowl, gently mix together cake flour (or substitute), sugar, baking powder, cardamom powder, pistachio powder and salt.
    6. Add butter and 1/3 of the milk mixture and whisk together until all dry ingredients are moistened.
    7. If you have a hand mixer, increase the speed and beat until the mixture is smooth.
    8. Add remaining milk mixture in 3 batches, beating well in between to create a light and smooth batter.
    9. Pour the mixture equally divided into two greased cake pans and smooth out the surface.
    10. Bake until a toothpick or knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Should take about 35 min.
  • While the cake is baking, get some rest. There is plenty of time to prepare filling and frosting while the cake cools.
  • Tip: Make sure your cake is completely cooled down before you take it out of the pan.
  • To make the ricotta filling
    1. Beat the ricotta (or chakkaa), heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar until quite smooth, about 30 seconds.
    2. Add rose water and meat on medium-high speed for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. The mixture should thicken.
  • Mascarpone frosting preparation
    1. First, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, rose water and cardamom until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
    2. Beat in mascarpone and Greek yogurt (chakkaa) until the mixture is just combined and looks smooth and spreadable.
    3. Tip: Do not overbeat or the mixture will curdle.
  • Once cakes have cooled
    1. Using a knife, trim the tops of the cakes to make them even if necessary.
    2. Cut each cake into half to create a 4-layered cake.
    3. Tip: If you do not feel confident doing this, then leave the two cakes alone, you can simply use them as is to create a two layered cake.
    4. Brush all cake layers with milk syrup until cakes are well coated and the syrup soaks through them.
    5. Place once cake layer on a plate or stand.
    6. Top with 1/3 ricotta filling evenly and place another layer on top.
    7. Repeat the above steps two more times.
    8. Smooth over the mascarpone frosting on all visible sides of the cake – top and sides.
  • Top the cake with a handful of crushed pistachios and candied rose petals.
  • (Optional) Candied rose petals
    1. You will have to prepare the rose petals 24 hours in advance for them to be properly candied for your cake.
    2. Wash the rose petals properly and let the water dry out.
    3. Lightly coat the petals one at a time in egg white and then dip into sugar so that the sugar sticks.
    4. Leave out to dry until the petals become naturally crunchy (overnight).
  • One final tip: if you want to frost the cake without creating a mess around on the cake stand or the plate, there is a simple trick (


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