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Cake Decorating with Geraniums

Cake Decorating with Geraniums

A Genoise Cake…and Decorating with Geraniums

Don’t do what I did!
Okay, I love Geraniums, who doesn’t? So when I saw the pretty geranium petals mentioned and used in the Tartine* book, I was inspired.
Also, yesterday I asked Elisabeth Prueitt (author) where to find geraniums that could be used on baked items etc. She told me that if my own plant had been around long enough to sprout new leaves it was probably okay for culinary use (in other words, not straight from a nursery where it may have been sprayed – or in my case Home Depot.
What’s the difference? About $10.00 per plant potted plant where I live).

*This post is from an experience I shared with the Food52 Baking Club Facebook Club, when baking from the cookbook ‘Tartine’ during the month of September


Wonderful! I have Geraniums in my backyard! I was good to go.

However, the part I neglected to retain were the words ‘SCENTED or ‘ROSE’ before the word Geranium. Turns out they’re two different things. I guess what is called a Zonal Geranium (aka…a Geranium) is not recommended dining fare, whereas SCENTED Geraniums are. They’re edible, and they’re also known as pelargonium.

Scented Geraniums also have a scent (obviously) which should have been my first clue, since my potted plants didn’t really smell like anything specific. They just smelled like…a plant.

Anyway, originally not thinking there was any difference between the two Geraniums, I pranced out to my patio, snippers in hand, and proceeded to de-petal away.
Decorating with Geraniums – beautiful, and genius….because they’re easy to grow and hardy – even in the Mid-west!

After gently placing them on my cake, I decided it was missing an accent color, and thought including the green leaves might do it. I like geraniums leaves, they have a scalloped-prettiness to them.

Now, I did have the foresight to check and see if the leaves were edible too, although I admit I checked after they were already on the cake. Still, I was happy when I saw that they’re often used in salad and jellies…or I should say the ‘SCENTED’ Geranium leaves are used.

Again, Scented being the operative word.

Genoise layer cake and Decorating with Geraniums
Genoise and Geraniums

Okay, so I made the Genoise cake – and it was lovely. I used a 6” pan with high sides, and another 6” pan with, like, 2” sides (I froze the latter).

Rather fortuitously, I just learned to can/preserve last week, and had a stash of lemon curd and raspberry jam, so I made a filling of the two and sandwiched it between the layers, then frosted the cake in plain whipped cream (this is probably my favorite ‘frosting’ as it’s so light).

In the book it says that a Genoise need a simple syrup to give it moistness, so I did a SS and flavored it with a dash of Cointreau (I know, it’s not lemon or raspberry, but it’s in the fruit family, so what the hell – you work with what you have, right?).

I brushed it on the ‘rough’ side of the cake layers so it would soak in. I actually wasn’t sure how much to use, and I should have been more liberal. But it was still fine; it could have been a little moister is all I’m saying.

After that, I just went about my business decorating with my ‘unbeknownst-to-me’ inedible leaves.

When it was finished, I gave my husband a piece of cake.
As his fork was poised over the slice, he paused, and asked if he was supposed to eat the flowers.
I was leaving the room and yelled over my shoulder, ‘Go ahead!”

But I guess just like our dogs don’t eat poisonous berries found in nature, my husband’s natural instincts kicked in and told him something was amiss.
He opted out…

So the rest of the cake will be eaten sans petals & leaves.
However, I will be looking for a SCENTED Geranium plant to add to my set of decorating tools, and besides now that I know how to preserve, I can make the Geranium leaf jellies I read about while doing my due diligence, not to mention the Blackberry Tart with Rose Geranium Cream that’s in the Tartine book.

Oh, and, btw. I did consume a petal or three.
And as you can see I’m still alive to write about it (at length).

So, thinking about Decorating with Geraniums? Yes, do it!
Just be sure you do your floral research first:)


Tartine Cookbook
The definition of a Tartine is a French open-faced sandwich…

But in this case Tartine refers to the San Francisco bakery by the same name. However, as it has many a french pastry recipe, I include it in my blog, despite the fact that it’s not located across the Atlantic.

Last month I joined the Food52 Baking Club on Facebook. If you’re unfamiliar with the group, it’s a  Facebook membership ‘club’ that bakes from a different book each month. Last month’s selection was Tartine, by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson.

I tried several recipes, and I’ll post about them individually every so often, with one major review of the cookbook itself.

Tartine can be purchased on Amazon