Introduction: Edible Rosebush

About: I'm just a nifty guy from Kentucky. I enjoy making things and have a fascination for cooking, books, and Japanese culture. I currently work at Amazon and enjoy my spare time by cooking, crafting, and browsing …

In a recent attempt to rekindle my passion for cooking, I bought The Fat Duck Cookbook, by Heston Blumenthal. Being so close to February and the dreaded Valentines day, one recipe caught my eye. The edible rosebush on page 307 seemed daunting at first due to the use of a few things I had never worked with before. However, after some research and a bit of play in the kitchen I realized it wasn't as big of a challenge as it seemed. It's actually a pretty simple recipe that revolves more around the principle of aroma stimulation. That being said, it's very important that you find fresh and organic ingredients.
     Prior to this recipe I had never worked with flower petals, but they're not difficult to work with as long as you keep them fresh. Always do your background check on where you're getting your flowers. It is possible to poison yourself due to chemicals that are sprayed on flowers to preserve them or pesticides. Some flowers also have false fragrance sprayed on, so please be careful. If using flowers from your own garden, make sure you haven't sprayed them with pesticides or fertilizer. Also make sure wash, dry, and inspect all flowers before cooking with them. This will ensure the quality of your piece. I found that larger roses that have thicker petals provide more flavor and are a better fit for this recipe.
     The base of this also uses spun sugar. Molten sugar is very dangerous and tedious to work with. Please make sure you've played with sugar before trying it in a specific recipe. It always pays to experiment with multiple parts of a recipe before bringing it together, so that you have an understanding of how the different parts work together. Please see my tutorial and recipe for sugar sculpture for the construction of the base.
     All that being said, I had a lot of fun with this recipe. I have edited pieces of it to suit how I thought it would better come together. The original recipe used a metal rosebush base for the petals, I wanted to gift the whole thing, and didn't have the resources available to use a metal rack. I also substituted a few of the ingredients with easier to find ingredients.

The ingredients are:

For the petals:
6 g coriander ground
50g egg white
25g rice flour
3 drops of rose water (Williams and Sonoma)
1 rose, (Whole Foods, ask to be sure it hasn't been treated)
55g dried raspberries, (Whole Foods dried foods section)
50g apple chips, ground into granules (Kroger)
Powdered sugar

For the spun sugar bush:
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup corn syrup
½ cup water
     * I didn't include a picture of these ingredients because they're very basic.

Step 1: The Bush.

I'm going to break this into two parts, the bush and the petals. The bush was a lot of fun, and I love playing with sugar. Please be careful when doing this, as molten sugar will eat your skin. You might think I'm exaggerating, but it's worse than an oil burn. (This coming from someone who's had a sugar burn.) Below I've included a few tips for dealing with spun sugar:

Line your work-space’s floor with newspaper, or some sort of lining unless you want to mop. No matter how neat you think you might be, this project will get sugar EVERYWHERE.
Line your workstation's counterspace with parchment paper. Molten sugar will not stick to parchment paper once cooled.
Do not use glass as a mold when spinning sugar. The high temperature and sudden change will make it explode. You'll be getting this sugar up to around 310 F, so expect what you're pouring it on to take the heat.
Keep a tub of ice water around at all times, this can be used to cool your hands or something during an emergency spill. Keep in reach but out of the way.
Invest in a silpat. It's a handy little mat that's good for just about all baking purposes. I'm not paid to say this, but they really do come in handy.
I used an oven to dry the spun sugar when I pulled it out of the water. This was a good idea, until the oven got too hot and started to allow the sugar to relax. Be sure to leave the door open and put it on a low heat when doing this.

The ingredients for this part are:

½ cup corn syrup
½ cup water
2 cups of granulated sugar

Equipment needed:
candy thermometer
wooden spoon
parchment paper

  Start by setting up the work-space. Line the floor with newspaper or cut a trashbag in half and put it on the floor. Line your counter with parchment paper, or lay out a silpat. Place a small folded handtowel on the side of the station opposite your dominant hand, to rest the pan with the sugar on. Find a large spoon used for serving to ladle the sugar with. Don't use an actual ladle as this will retain too much sugar.
Combine the ingredients in the pan, and set the heat to medium high. Allow it to come to a boil and cover to boil for 2-3 min. While this is happening, take the ice out of the water in the tub of ice water.
Once it's boiled for 2-3 min, attach the thermometer and stir with the spoon. If needed you can use a pastry brush soaked with water to brush down the sides to keep it from crystallizing. I've found that this recipe isn't bad about that happening.
Once the temperature reaches 310 F, pick it up with your non dominant hand and quickly dip the bottom of the pan into the water for a short moment. Pat the bottom of the pan on the handtowel and turn the pan to pool it in a lower corner. Use your dominant hand to ladle the spun sugar at first out onto the workstation, working into a spinning motion that drizzles the sugar. Once comfortable but without using too much of the sugar, begin to ladle it in circular motions into the water. Alternate your motions and try to swirl. The more you do this, the prettier the design will turn out.
Once you're satisfied with the amount used or the size, set the pan in the sink, turning hot water on to spray into it. Quickly return to the tub and gently pull the sugar sculpture from the water. Set it onto a parchment lined plate and place it into the oven with the door open. Set your oven to preheat to a very low temperature (between 200-300 works for me). Once it's dry, but before it starts to melt, pull it out and put it into the freezer. It'll stay well in there and harden.

This may take a few tries, but it's fun to play with. You can color and flavor it by adding the color and flavor just before you remove it from the stove, while you're stirring it in. This recipe is easy and fun to play with. I'd like to thank Ina Garten for this awesomely easy recipe. I love her casual no rush style of cooking.
The easiest way to clean up is to run hot water over the pan and utensils. Just throw the paper and trashbag away and you're done!

Step 2: Mise En Place for the Petals.

This is the preparation for the petals.

For the petals:
6 g coriander, ground
50g egg white
25g rice flour
3 drops of rose water (Williams and Sonoma)
1 rose, (Whole Foods, ask to be sure it hasn't been treated)
55g dried raspberries, (Whole Foods dried foods section)
50g apple chips, ground into granules (Kroger)
Powdered sugar

very sharp knife
small pastry brush
surgical or food prep gloves (no powder)
parchment or wax paper

Preheat oven to 400 F and spread the coriander onto a small pan. Toast this until it's fragrant and set aside.
Combine the rose oil, egg, and rice flower until it forms a paste.  Allow this to rest for 20-30 min. Be sure to taste it after mixing. I found that I used too much on my first mix, and had to start over. You want a slight taste with plenty of aroma. This step allows the smell of rose to linger in your mouth as you eat it. The rose water does not taste good though, so use sparingly.
Cut the head of the rose off, taking care to remove the head so that it will still sit level. Cut the small green leaves under the petals out, and pull the petals that have slight damage off. Wash this off and taste it, without any flavor. Do this with your eyes closed after drinking something to clear your pallet. This will help you understand the mixture of flavors used in the recipe.
Slowly and gently pull each petal off until you get between 10-16 petals. Leave a small head on the tip for the middle of your presentation, or use them all. Inspect each petal for ugly bits. Only use the better looking ones, as they will stay fresh longer. Wash them and gently dry them one by one, laying them out on a work surface.
Taking a knife, roll the blade on the bottom half as to remove the white bit. It is bitter and will add an unpleasant taste to the petals. Once this is done, lay them out again and set aside.
Blend the dried raspberries in a blender until they're small granules.
Place the apple chips in a mortar and pestle, taking care to pick out any pieces that have too much apple skin on them. Ground these until they're the same size as the raspberry granules.
Place the coriander, raspberry granules, and apple granules into separate containers and place them in an order on your work station. Re-mix your rose oil paste and place that on the station as well, with a small pastry brush.
Cover a small pan with parchment or wax paper and place it on the higher end of the work station. This will be where your petals rest once they're dressed.

Step 3: Dressing the Petals.

Now that all the mise en place is done, we'll begin to dress the petals. This isn't hard, but be sure you're at your comfort level when doing it. If you want to use the brush, use the brush. The original recipe from Chef Blumenthal used gloves to smear the petals with the paste. But do what works best for you and gets your best results.
I was pleasantly surprised with how well everything stuck to the petal. Don't overdo the paste, just enough to coat. I've included pictures on how I layered the three ingredients that provide the most flavor, you can play around. Though I was tempted to just spread them over the entire petal, I decided to keep the original 1/3 formatting that Chef Blumenthal provided.

  Gently apply the paste from the bowl to the petals. Take care not to rip the petal. Apply it to both the front and back.
Then, holding it with the hand nearest the bowl containing the paste, sprinkle the coriander, raspberry, and apple onto each petal in 1/3 increments. Be sure to sprinkle it on the concave side. I put the coriander in the middle, with the apple on the left and raspberries on the right.
Lay them onto the prepared pan and allow to dry for an hour or so. Once they've decently dried, turn them over with care and dust the back with powdered sugar. Be careful in this process.
  Once dusted, turn them back over, and allow to dry for a few more hours.

Step 4: Dressing the Bush & Finish.

Now that the petals are done, clean while you're waiting for them to dry. Once they're dry, you can apply them to the spun sugar bush. I put the rose head in the middle for effect, and allowed the petals to alternate on the bush. If you need to change or clip the bush, use a small spoon and softly tap the bits you want broken off. Be careful not to alter it too much.
     I feel this recipe turned out well, and I hope it goes smoothly for you. I did play with it quite a bit to get the proper tastes and effects I wanted. It took a bit of digging, but it was a lot of fun. Feel free to alter it, just give credit to Chef Blumenthal. (and possibly me if I deserve any)

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