Friday, June 18, 2010


I love, love, love these long, sun-kissed days just around Litha, when I wake up bathed in golden light and fall asleep while it's still barely dusk. For this year's celebration, I'm making Aprhodite's Cakes, which use just a hint of rosewater (now available at Whole Foods so don't give me that "where the fuck would I buy that?" stuff) from a recipe that I pulled, years ago, out of Sage Woman. Surfing the web, I was delighted to find a post by the original author.

Remembering that all acts of love and pleasure (including, especially, eating) are rituals of the Goddess, you should go read the whole thing.

Here's a tiny taste:

[Rosewater] is particularly effective when combined with its kin, the bramblefruits: raspberries and blackberries. Because they are cousins to roses, these fruits really shine when they are kissed with the essence of the Queen of Flowers. Rosewater is subtle with these fruits, sliding into the flavor mix like a nymph sinking into water, until she is but a shimmer beneath the surface: you know it is there, but you cannot tell what it is. It is only a flowery scent, a flicker of something familiar that is just maddening to the senses, but that cannot be grasped: the nymph dances laughingly beyond the satyr’s reach.

Last year, my friends, the very friendly and very healthy hippie organic farmers at the farmer’s market, had a banner crop of blackberries, so they were selling these plump, shining beauties for next to nothing. These berries were so soft, so yielding and so full of sugar, that you could barely pick them up without bruising them and being stained with roseate juice. Just driving home with them filled my car with a miasma of sweetness, and when I brought them into the house, my kitchen smelled like the very tumescent essence of summer Herself.

I ate some by themselves, but I also decided to create a fitting frame for these lovely wonders. I baked a batch of sweet cream scones, a very rich and short pastry that is still moist, due to the addition of cream. They are not overly sweet however, because they did not need to be: the berries were dripping with fructose by themselves. I took some of the berries, the prettiest, and left them whole. The others, I macerated with just a touch of sugar to get them to release their juices, a squeezing of lemon juice to balance the sweetness with a note of acid, a goodly dollop of Chambord to add richness, and a few crystalline drops of rosewater to deepen the flavors.

I split the scones while they were barely warm, and spooned macerated berries over the first layer, then laid a spoonful of softly whipped, barely sweetened cream over it. I capped it with the top of the scone, added another spoonful of berries and juice, then the cream, and topped it all with three whole, perfect berries.

The recipe for Aphrodite's Cakes is available at the link above. The one bit of advice that I'll give is to use about half as much rosewater as you think you should use. There's a very, very, very fine line between an orgasmic sense that you're consuming the essence of a water nymph dancing just outside the grasp of saytr and a "need to go get a drink" sense of having consumed perfume. But, seriously, how can you not make them when you read this:

Chef Rainer, who is also from Bavaria, took a bite, and had a bit of a swoon. He finished it, opened his eyes, and said, in his accented baritone “It is like going to Church. It is better than communion. What do you call it?” I said, “Aphrodite’s Cakes.” And he smiled, and said, “Which would you rather eat, Christ, or Aphrodite?” I don't know about you, but even as a very straight woman, I know the answer to that.

How are you going to celebrate the longest day?

Picture found here.


Shelly said...

That sounds absolutely divine! I don't care for blueberries, but I could eat that! YUMMO!

My coven will be celebrating and feasting at my home this year for the first time and it feels right! I think I am going to dish this up if possible!

Hecate said...


IMHO, there is something so wonderful and "priestess-like" about preparing your home for the coven to come celebrate a Sabbat. I find every aspect of it, from putting out fresh towels in the bathroom to making sure there's enough ice to be an act of devotion.

Blessings to you and your circle! May the wheel always turn; may the days always lengthen!

Mama Kelly aka Jia said...

I am in love with the description of those cookies. They sound just wonderful!

Joyous Litha!

chicago dyke said...

my darling Goddess, are you're sure you're not gay instead of Wiccan? towels, fancy foods, smelly water... sounds like the spin-up to a saturday night out on the town clubbing with me and my boys. "getting ready" is the best part of the night! we usually add yoga and bridge to the early pm mix, and organic greens, as my BFF and also gf don't do meat. good music finishes the session; it's essential to have that along with all the rest of the fixins. :-)

Hecate said...


I am, sadly, as straight as they come. But I could almost pretend for a night on the town w you and yours! And these cookies are v good. All acts of love and pleasure are, as we say, rituals of the Goddess.

pheonix_Dawn said...

painted my nails gold, getting ready to do my toenails have me on some red so I can go out in the morning and enjoy it before the kids and hubby awake. Hubbys going golfing and the girls and I are getting dressed up in the sacred colors red orange and yellow and heading to the park for a picnic with some lemonade and dont know bout the sandwiches yet gotta have some strawberries for dessert though have a blessed summer solstice my sweet friend! Much Love and Light

xan said...

Rosewater was wildly common in 19th century cooking--in the US. It died out nearly completely by the turn of the (20th) century it seems, and nowadays if you look up recipes that call for it they are almost all of Middle Eastern origin.

The stuff is ridiculously easy to make if you have a good supply of roses. They don't have to be fancy, high-bred or beautiful, just free of any sprays or other chemical treatment. Get a wide-mouthed cappable/corkable bottle or jar. Stuff full of rose petals. Add water to fill up the space between them (it won't be much if you stuffed the petals tightly, as you should.) Cap. Wait 1 week. Strain water into container, throw out rose petals, stuff jar with fresh ones. Put water back in, adding extra to fill to the top again. Repeat above procedure 1-3 more times depending on intensity wanted. Pour water off the the final time into a tightly-cappable container for use (cleaned out vanilla bottles or the like work well.)

Use the same procedure for orange-flower water and one other that used to be common in "fine baking" but seems to have disappeared completely: peach leaf water.