This cake is a moorish version of the famous tarte Tropézienne that we used to buy in St Tropez. The rosewater cream is based on a simple crème pâtissière, with rosewater and whipped cream added for aroma and lightness. Serves 8-10.
For the brioche dough:
- 1 tsp dried yeast (or 10g fresh yeast)
- 120ml tepid water
- 300g plain flour
- 50g caster sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 organic eggs
- 2 organic egg yolks
- 100g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 150g pine nuts
- icing sugar for dusting (optional)
For the rosewater cream:
- ½ vanilla pod, slit open lengthways
- 25g cornflour
- 3 organic egg yolks
- 100g caster sugar
- 250ml milk
- 2 tbsp rosewater
- 40g unsalted butter
- 250ml double cream
First make the brioche. Dissolve the yeast in the water and mix with 100g of the flour. Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in volume. Sift the sugar, salt and remaining flour into a bowl (as this is quite a wet dough, it is easiest to make in a mixer fitted with a dough hook). Make a well in the centre of the flour and put the whole eggs, 1 egg yolk and the yeast mixture in it. Bring the dough together, knead for a few minutes, then slowly start to incorporate the butter. Once the butter is worked into the dough, knead in two-thirds of the pine nuts. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise at room temperature (no warmer than 25°C, or the butter may melt and separate from the dough) for 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
Grease a 25cm springform cake tin with oil or butter and line the base with baking parchment. Press the dough into the tin, paint it with the last egg yolk and scatter with the remaining pine nuts. Leave to rise, again at room temperature, this time until trebled in bulk – just over 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F/Gas 4.
Bake the brioche for 30 minutes, until the nuts and crust are a rich golden brown. Leave to cool before assembling the cake, but bear in mind that this brioche is best eaten on the day of baking.
Next make the rosewater cream. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod, reserving the pod, and put them in a mixing bowl with the cornflour, egg yolks and sugar. Beat to a thick paste. Bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla pod, remove the pod, then slowly beat the boiling milk into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and slowly bring back to a simmer, stirring constantly – the mixture will thicken dramatically. Decant the mixture into a bowl, stir in the rosewater and let it cool slightly. When it is about 50-60°C (when you can put your finger in for a second, but not hold it there), stir in the butter. Cover and leave to cool, then chill for a few hours in the fridge.
Whip the cream until firm. Stir the custard to loosen it (it will have set solid), then fold in the whipped cream.
To assemble the cake, cut the brioche horizontally in half to make 2 discs. Pile all the rosewater cream on to the lower disc and replace the top. Chill the cake for 30 minutes if the cream seems a bit oozy, and serve dusted with icing sugar, if you like.