Vintage Rose-Water Cupid Cakes Recipe

Strawberry Shortcake Rose water Cupid Cake BakecThiscCake

Good-messy, decadent and oh-so-vintage! Re-introducing a recipe from the year 1888 that we’ve brightened up with a hint of rose-water (though less daring folk may substitute vanilla or fresh lemon).  These Rose-Water Cupid Cakes are baked in little heart-shaped pans and in mini tube pans (or even muffin tins), then sliced in half, basted with a Sweet Boiled Milk Syrup (oh yeah!) and dotted with homemade Italian Meringue Buttercream and strawberries slices — just like a down home strawberry shortcake. Goodness gracious!  Once you take on this fun little vintage kitchen project I can almost guarantee you’ll have more dinner guests in your future!

Cupid Rose Water Cakes by Bake This Cake

Ancient Rose-Water: Before the turn of the Century, bakers used rose-water just the way we dribble vanilla extract in nearly all of our cakes and cookies. Bulgarian Rose Water for Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake Yes, indeed!  Rose-water is made from distilled rose petals (I’ll be making some homemade rose-water soon — so stay tuned!). 🙂  It is an actual byproduct of perfume.  Perfume in da cake??  But wait!  We’re using only fine quality rose-water that is food-grade (USDA organic) for our mini valentine cakes.  I think that makes a big difference. AND, we’re using just a LITTLE splash in the cake batter, syrup and frosting.  Probably a lot less than was used back in the day.  Cause we’re starting out slow. 🙂 Just a subtle hint.  If you don’t let on, some folks won’t even notice it.  But when you divulge your rosy little secret, they will stop and think through the flavors and recognize a hint of flower note in that last bite. What a kick! 🙂 (sorry, I can’t help it with the smiley faces!)

Cupid Heart Valentines Day Mini Baking pans BakeThisCakeMini Cake or Muffin Tins: This is the little thrift store find that led to our search for the perfect little cake to accompany the vintage heart-shaped mini cake pans. 🙂 You can use any variety of mini heart cake pans or mini bundt pans.  (These heart-shaped pans are 3-1/4″ x3-1/4″ x 1″.)  Or a simple muffin pan will do just fine too! These are not huge individual cakes, so, if you’ll be using a muffin pan, don’t go ginormous on us. (The round mini tube pans we used are 3-1/4″ diameter x 1-1/2″.)  We’re looking for light and fun and VERY messy — in a good way! 🙂

Originating Recipe for Cheap Cake!  The recipe for these cute little baby cakes comes from a rather Cheap Cake recipe from Locomotive firemen's magazine 1888 Vol 12 July p 510unusual source…The Brotherhood of Locomotive Fireman’s Magazine (July, 1888, Volume 12, page 510).  Or, rather, from a submission to the “Woman’s Department” of the magazine by “A Fireman’s Wife” from Springfield, Massachusetts.  This recipe, that we are modifying here to create our Cupid Cakes, is actually referred to only as “a cheap cake” (ha!) because it uses 1 egg, 1 cup o’ sugar, 1 cup o’ milk and a little bitta flour. But, of course, we messed with the original recipe. (Yeah, we always do.)  But only a tad. Just enough to bring a tiny drool to the corner of your mouth when you take your first bite. Ha!

Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen's Magazine Masthead

Okay, let’s get started baking up a little set of country cakes. Yum-o!

BTW, if you want to have some extra fun with your guests, assemble these little charmers right at the table.  It’s so fun to hear the oohs and aahs as you dollop the berries and frosting over the cakes. And serve em up with: champagne, coffee, milk or even fresh Lebanese lemonade (made with rose-water). hoo hoo!

3 Cupid Cakes on a plate Bake This Cake

Vintage Rose-Water Cupid Cakes:

Tools needed for mini cakes:

10 to 12 mini cake pans (mini hearts, mini tube pans or 1 muffin pan)
1 baking sheet (for baking individual mini cake pans)
1 very small cup (e.g. demitasse or espresso cup, for melting just 1 Tablespoon of butter)
Small sifter or strainer (for sifting 1/2 cup of flour)
1 small bowl (for mixing 1/2 c flour & baking powder)
1 medium to large mixing bowl (not a lot of batter in this recipe)
Electric mixer
Measuring cups and spoons
Pouring cup (or ladle, for filling little tins with batter)

Ingredients for mini cakes (makes about 11 small cakes):
2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter (for pan prep)
2 Tablespoons of cake flour (for pan prep)
1 large egg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk (2% is fine)
1-1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon melted butter
Flavoring – 1/2 teaspoon fine quality organic food grade rose-water (substitute fresh lemon juice or fine quality vanilla extract)

Directions for Rose-Water Cupid Cakes:

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Bring to room temperature by placing warm water in a cup with:
1 large egg

Warm water to bring egg to room temperature Bake This Cake

Drop a couple rows of mini cake pans on a baking sheet.

Heart pans on the cookie sheet for Cupid Cakes by Bake This Cake

Rub each pan tin with:
about 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter

Dust each buttered tin with:
about 2 Tablespoons of cake flour

Tip: Do the same with mini tube pans or a muffin tin.

Note about pans:  You can choose any small individual cake pans. We assembled hearts around a double-decker donut-shaped cake using 8 mini heart pans and 2 mini tube pans. Okay-okay! We made one extra mini tube pan cake for the baker test :))

No cupcake liners, please! They are awesome, yes, but they’ll spoil the look of our vintage cakes. 🙂

We’re also testing our sponsor’s unbleached cake flour in this recipe. 🙂 Although I’ve tried most of their amazing flour, I didn’t even know until recently that King Arthur had cake flour. Besides, my friend, Andrew Wilder, author of the Eating Rules blog, tells me that unbleached flour is a healthier alternative to bleached cake flour — so I’m game. 🙂  And the results surprised me… The unbleached cake flour was light and loverly! Hip hip!

Testing Sponsor's product King Arthur Unbleached Flour for cupid cakes Bake This Cake

1-1/2 cups cake flour

Sifting flour for Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake

Although I should use a scale, I’m too lazy, but be sure to spoon your sifted flour into the dry ingredient measuring cup and level it off with a straight edge.

Leveling flour for Cupid Cakes BakeThisCake

In a medium (soup-sized) bowl, whisk together to fully incorporate:
the prepared sifted and measured cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Whisking dry ingredients for Cupid Cakes BakeThisCake

Nuke in the microwave for a few seconds to lightly melt:
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Melting butter in demitasse cup for Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake

Measure out and let sit on counter for a few minutes to reduce the chill of:
1 cup milk (2% is fine)

Tip: We’re not needing room temperature or warm milk. Just a little less cold than straight from the fridge if possible. Not a biggie. 🙂

Milk for Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake

Beat on high-speed for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy:
the room temperature egg

Whipped egg for Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake

Beat into the whipped egg on high-speed for about 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy:
1 cup granulated sugar

Beating sugar with egg Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake

Slowly beat into the creamed butter sugar in portions and then beat on medium speed just until fully incorporated (about 30 seconds):
the blended dry ingredients
the measured milk

Beating in dry ingredients and milk Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake

Blend in on low-speed just until incorporated (about 30 seconds):
Flavoring – 1/2 teaspoon fine quality organic food grade rose-water (substitute the same amount of fresh lemon juice or fine quality vanilla extract)

Folding rose water and melted butter into Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake

Pour or ladle batter into the mini cake tins or muffin pans (about half way or less).

Tip:  Pour or spoon just a bit of the batter into each container and then circle back around to get them as evenly filled as possible. They will raise a little but not even up to the top.

Pour batter into mini heart pans Bake This Cake

These are the mini tube pan cakes (with one tester extra) for the center of the platter presentation.

Batter in mini tube pans for Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes until lightly golden and toothpick test comes out clean.

Heart pans Cupid Cakes in the oven Bake This Cake

Sweet Boiled Milk Syrup: This recipe should be made about 10 minutes before the cakes are done baking so that both the syrup and the cakes are warm when you brush the cakes with the syrup.
Tip: This syrup will harden over time so be sure to use it fresh and warm.

Tools needed for Sweet Boiled Milk Syrup:
Small to medium saucepan
Pastry (or other) brush (substitute teaspoon, for drizzling syrup over cakes)
Thermometer (optional)

Ingredients for Sweet Boiled Milk Syrup:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk (2% is fine)
1/8 teaspoon fine quality food grade rose-water (or substitute fine quality vanilla extract)

Directions for Sweet Boiled Milk Syrup:

Combine in a small to medium saucepan over medium-low heat:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk (2% is fine)

Bring to a foaming-bubble boil and then simmer at a low bubbling boil for 1 additional minute.
Tip: If you’re using a thermometer, the syrup can rise to about 220 degrees.

Boiling milk syrup for Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake

This is what the Sweet Boiled Milk Syrup looks like after it has boiled at the foamy stage for about a minute…

Finished Boiled Milk Syrup for Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake

Remove the syrup from the stove and stir in:
1/8 teaspoon fine quality food grade rose-water (or substitute fine quality vanilla extract)

You will have about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of syrup for basting your cakes.
thickens as it cools.

Sweet Boiled Milk Syrup for Cupid Cakes by Bake This Cake

Cool the cakes on a wire rack for about 5 minutes until they are cool to the touch.

Rose Water Mini Cupid Cakes on a plate BakeThisCake

Slice each cake in half horizontally, keeping each cake together (in case they are slightly different sizes).

Slicing mini cupid cakes BakeThisCake

Brush each cake top and the top of the inner layer with a little of the warm syrup.

Cupid Cakes brushed with Milk Syrup Bake This Cake

Close the cakes pieces back together and wrap them to keep them fresh until just before it’s time to serve.

Now…on to the frosting!

Italian Buttercream Meringue Frosting: This is a lighter frosting than most of this sort to pair perfectly with this particular cake.

Tools needed for Italian Buttercream Meringue:
Medium heavy pot
Electric mixer
Pouring device that will hold molten hot liquid
Thermometer or temperature probe (to ensure health and safety for cooked egg whites)
Measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients for Italian Buttercream Meringue:
2/3 c sugar
1/2 c water
4 large egg whites
1/4 t salt (optional)
1/4 t cream of tartar (optional  but recommended for stiff peaks to form nicely)
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cool and cubed

In small saucepan, boil on medium heat without stirring until mixture reaches 240 degrees (about 5-7 minutes):
2/3 c sugar
1/2 c water

In the meantime, (while the sugar/water boils), in a large bowl, beat on high-speed until fluffy but not stiff (about 2 to 3 minutes):
4 large egg whites
1/4 t salt (optional)
1/4 t cream of tartar (optional)
Note: I was not looking for stiff peaks, so I did not use salt or cream of tartar but you will achieve a stiffer frosting if you use all ingredients.

Soft whipped egg whites Bake This Cake

When boiling sugar syrup reaches 240 degrees, beat the egg whites on low-speed as you slowly pour the molten hot syrup into the fluffy egg whites.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: Remember not to touch the hot sugar syrup and take great care not to allow any splashes!
Tip: Try to drizzle the hot syrup to avoid sides of bowl and mixer parts (so they don’t get hard and crystallize in little lumps.

Once all the syrup has been beat slowly into the egg whites, beat on high-speed until stiff peaks form and meringue is glossy and the meringue comes to room temperature.

Whipped egg whites cooked with molten sugar syrup BakeThisCake

When the frosting is gorgeous and glossy and cooled on the counter to ROOM TEMPERATURE, beat in:
3 Tablespoons of cubed butter that is soft but still cool to the touch

Refrigerate until just prior to using.

Itallian Meringue Buttercream for Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake

Fresh Strawberry Filling: We’re making extra strawberry slices because some folks like extra berries heaped on the side of the dessert plate. 🙂

Strawberry Filling Ingredients:
1 pound fresh strawberries
1 Tablespoon strawberry jam

Wash, carefully pat dry of all water, de-stem and thinly slice:
1 pound (2 small baskets or 1 large basket) ripe fresh local strawberries

Carefully stir into the strawberries (without breaking the slices):
1 Tablespoon strawberry jam

That’s it for the berries!

Sliced strawberries for Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake

Prepare each little cake by filling the center with a layer of Italian Meringue Buttercream and a layer of strawberries. Place the top layer on each cake and repeat with frosting and strawberries.

Single Round Cupid Cake Bake This Cake

If serving these cakes on a large platter, you might arrange the hearts around a donut-shaped cake that filled just like the heart cakes.  We double-decked our center circle cake.

Cupid Cakes hearts around circle BakeThisCake

Now watch them disappear!  The round cakes almost look like strawberry shortcake whoopie pies…thought I think you’ll need a fork to eat them without making too much of a yummie mess. 🙂

Center stack of round Cupid Cakes Bake This Cake

Let’s get a super close-up look at these babies… 🙂

Close up Cupid Cake stacked circles BakeThisCake

Wishing you happy baking and good conversation at your vintage dessert table!

I do hope you enjoy and let me know how it goes.

Thank you for all your wonderful words of encouragement!



Leslie at beachwood overview

Baby at the table BakeThisCake

Baby on board

Whole Strawberries prepared for freezing Bake This Cake

Strawberries for freezing

Strawberries from Farmer's Market Bake This Cake

Farmer’s Market Strawberries

5 thoughts on “Vintage Rose-Water Cupid Cakes Recipe

  1. I have been using those tins for necklace holders. I am going to dump out the jewelry and make cake! I love rose and orange water. I am looking forward to making it from scratch as well! I wish I was your neighbor as I would always be stopping by for a cup of sugar or anything that had been cooked with a cup of sugar! 🙂

  2. Those heart-shaped molds are adorable! Love the idea of rose water in the cakes…I did try some rose essence long time back in a chocolate-rose glaze over a yogurt cake, but it turned out to taste more like medicine that anything else!

    • Thank you for visiting and for your comments. I’m a newbie at rose-water but I think finding a very fine quality product might work best. I’m going to put a link on my blog post to the brand that I used. Plus I used a VERY small quantity for just a hint of it. 🙂

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