Strawberry and watermelon cake with rose-scented cream
By Christopher Thé, chef-owner of Black Star Pastry, Sydney, Australia

Serves 12


For the almond dacquoise:
150g almonds, coarsely chopped
150g pure icing sugar, sieved
5 egg whites
135g caster sugar

For the rose-scented cream:
300ml thickened cream
30g caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater

250g seedless watermelon, thinly sliced
60ml rosewater*
4 tbsp caster sugar
40g almond meal
500g strawberries, halved
10 seedless red grapes, halved
1 tbsp slivered pistachios*
1 tbsp dried rose petals*

*Available at Phoon Huat stores including #02-01 Buona Vista MRT Station (6776-0153)


To make the almond dacquoise, preheat oven to 200C. Pulse almonds in a food processor until finely ground, then combine in a bowl with icing sugar. 
In another clean mixing bowl, whisk egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 3-4min. Next, gradually add caster sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form, for 1-2min. Gently fold the almond-icing sugar mixture into the egg whites.
Line a 30cm x 40cm tray with baking paper, and spread the almond dacquoise mixture evenly. Bake for 10-15min until golden. Set aside to cool on the tray, then cut in half lengthwise. Leave it to rest for at least 4h, or overnight. 
Arrange watermelon slices in a single layer on a wire rack. Sprinkle with 20ml rosewater, then sprinkle with 2 tbsp sugar. Let it soak for 30min, then pat dry with kitchen towels.
For the rose-scented cream, whisk cream and sugar in an electric mixer until soft peaks forum. Gradually add rosewater and whisk until you have stiff peaks. Do not over-whisk.
6 Spread 1/3 of rose-scented cream evenly over half the dacquoise. Sprinkle with half the almond meal, and layer watermelon over the dacquoise, You might need to trim some of the watermelon slices to fill the gaps. 
7 Sprinkle the remaining almond meal over the watermelon. Spread half of the remaining rose cream. Layer with the rest of the dacquoise and rose cream. Refrigerate until firm, about 1-2 hours. 
Combine strawberries with the remaining 20ml rosewater and 2tbsp sugar in a bowl. Toss to combine and set aside for 15min. Carefully arrange the strawberries onto the cake, gently pushing into the cream. Trim the edges of the cake, scatter it with grapes, pistachios and rose petals. Serve.

TIP: Wipe mixing bowls with a dash of vinegar and salt to remove impurities before whipping egg whites. If the bowl is dirty, the egg whites might not be able to form stiff peaks.