This is where I’m meant to write a flowery description about it being summer and craving something lighter and watermelon is the perfect refreshing thing to serve during this weather etc. etc. but the truth is that watermelon is the shit and I will eat it no matter what season it is. Never limit yourselves, people.
It’s very unusual to see watermelon in a cake. If you’re a Pinterest kind of person, you might have seen all these annoying women getting excited about a healthy cake which turns out to be nothing more than a whole watermelon cut into the shape of a cake and decorated with more fruit on top and stuck to the sides. WTF. This is not cake. It’s not even “cake”. If someone tried to pass off a giant piece of watermelon as cake I would have to leave straight away. Maybe even key their car as I storm out of their house. I am not normally a violent person but as you can see I have very strong feelings about this subject.
But don’t worry, there is actual cake in this, and it’s truly genius and so light you will feel like eating as many slices as you can get your hands on. The other interesting thing about this cake is that it involves rosewater to scent the cream and macerate the watermelon and strawberries. The thought of rose flavouring makes me think about Turkish Delight and no one in the world likes Turkish Delight except for my sister. However, through some kind of miracle, the rosewater and the watermelon – brought together with an almond dacquoise, strawberries and sweetened whipped cream – turns into the most delicious of layered cakes.
I didn’t use the dried edible rose petals and slivered Iranian pistachios as specified in the original recipe because I would have had to sell my firstborn child for them, and I need to save that one for more important trades like Hermes handbags or good Beyonce tickets. I substituted them with raspberries and the cutest tiny currant grapes instead which were delish. Who wants to eat dried flowers and green nuts anyway?
Actually I just thought of something worse than watermelon masquerading as cake. Raisins that look like chocolate chips.
Strawberry and Watermelon Cake
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
250g seedless watermelon, thinly sliced
60 ml (¼ cup) rosewater
4 tbsp caster sugar
40 gm almond meal
500 gm strawberries (about 2 punnets), halved
20 seedless red grapes, halved
1 punnet raspberries
handful of currant grapes
150 gm almonds, coarsely chopped
150 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
5 egg whites
135 gm caster sugar
600 ml thickened cream
40 gm caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater
For almond dacquoise, preheat oven to 200C. Process almonds in a food processor until finely ground, then combine in a bowl with icing sugar. Whisk eggwhites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (3-4 minutes), then gradually add caster sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form (1-2 minutes). Gently fold through almond mixture, spread on a 30cm x 40cm oven tray lined with baking paper and bake until golden (10-15 minutes). Set aside to cool on tray, then cut in half lengthways.
Arrange watermelon slices in a single layer on a wire rack. Sprinkle with 20ml rosewater, then scatter with 2 tbsp sugar. Stand to macerate (30 minutes), then pat dry with absorbent paper.
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)
Spread one-third of rose cream evenly over one half of dacquoise, scatter with half the almond meal, then top with watermelon, trimming to fill any gaps. 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).
Combine strawberries, remaining rosewater and remaining sugar in a bowl, toss to combine and set aside to macerate (15 minutes). Carefully arrange on top of cake, gently pushing into cream. Trim edges of cake, scatter over grapes and berries.