Rooh Afza Cake
ROSE-FLAVORED CAKE MADE WITH WHITE CAKE BOX MIX
When they say that the second part of your life starts when you realize you don’t need a special occasion to eat cake, I’d like to think they were thinking about this cake. Rooh Afza, a sweet & defined rose-flavored syrup is an iconic elixir— some may even argue, legendary. At the end of the day, there is NOTHING that comes close to tasting like it. Rooh Afza Syrup can be found at your local South Asian grocer or at many online vendors.
The signature taste of Rooh Afza lends itself well to a variety of different dishes, desserts, and drinks. I love mixing together cocktails/mocktails with this syrup but love also adding it to my desserts. In India, many add it to popular desserts like falooda with vermicelli and basil seeds or in kheer, an incredible rice pudding.
While I am a fan of all semi-homemade recipes, I’m especially fond of semi-homemade desserts. When it comes to cake, I absolutely love doctoring up cake mixes. You’d be surprised to what a little bit of Indian filter coffee in chocolate cake or what a few strands of saffron added to yellow cake mix can do! And with that, it is unreal how ridiculously decadent this white cake mix gets with just a few swaps and an extra-luxurious frosting to top it all off!
Taking note of how Rooh Afza syrup is traditionally served with ice-cold milk, I’ve swapped the water that box mixes usually call for with creamy whole milk. The herbal notes of the syrup are brightened with the addition of the fresh orange zest in the cake batter and the buttercream frosting somehow seems to get better with each bite. I’d love for you to find out for yourself. Whether you’re making this just because or for Valentine’s/Galentine’s Day this year, please let me know what you think & sharing it with me on IG @thetashmashup!
For the cake batter:
1 box of white cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Classic White box mix)
1/4 cup of Rooh Afza (I used Hamdard’s Rooh Afza Rose Syrup)
Replace water with whole milk (I used 1 cup for the Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Classic White box mix)
3 large egg whites or however many eggs the white cake box mix you are using calls for
1/4 teaspoon of flaky sea salt
Replace vegetable oil with melted unsalted butter (I used 1/3 cup for the Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Classic White box mix)
2 tablespoons of orange zest (roughly the zest from one entire orange)
For the frosting:
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
4 cups organic powdered sugar (read notes on specifications below)
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of honey (I used Trader Joe's Multi Floral & Clover Honey)
2 teaspoons of Rooh Afza or more to taste (I used Hamdard’s Rooh Afza Rose Syrup)
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of whole milk
1/2 cup of strawberries, optional but highly recommended
Mint leaves, optional
Dried rose petals, optional (I used Rose Dose's Organic Rose Petals)
Begin by preheating your oven according to the directions on the back of your cake mix for your pan. Usually, 350 degrees for metal and glass pans and 325 degrees for dark or coated pans is a good frame of reference. Grease the sides and the bottom of your pans well or if you prefer, line your pan(s) with parchment.
Once your oven is preheated, it’s time to get mixing! In a large mixing bowl, blend your boxed white cake mix of choice, Rooh Afza syrup, whole milk, egg whites, sea salt, melted unsalted butter, and the orange zest at low speed for about 30 seconds before beating the cake batter at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour your batter into your pan(s) and bake immediately.
It’s now time to bake your cake. I’d recommend following the chart below in the notes section to ensure that your cake comes out perfectly moist and delicious. If using a dark or coated pan(s), be sure to add 3-5 additional minutes to your bake time. You know it’s done when the toothpick comes out clean!
Cool your cake in the pan for at least 15-18 minutes, or until cooled completely. If desired, move your cake(s) from the pan(s) to a cake stand.
While the cake cools, it’s time for the best part: the frosting! Begin by creaming your butter with a hand mixer, the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, or a wooden spoon until smooth and fluffy.
Once the butter is creamed, gradually beat in your organic confectioners' sugar a cup at a time until fully incorporated.
Once nicely blended, beat in your salt, vanilla extract, and honey.
Then, pour in your milk (one tablespoon at a time) and beat for an additional 3-4 minutes.
Finally, add in your Rooh Afza syrup, and beat for 30-40 seconds until smooth or until the desired pink color is reached!
~ Serves 8-16
I baked this cake in two 8” dark pans for 29-36 minutes at 325 degrees with the specific Duncan Hines box mix I shared above. Ovens are all different so be sure to ensure doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake.
One of the best tricks I’ve learned (I’d like to believe that semi-homemade cakes are my specialty) is that while you can take shortcuts with the boxed mix, never compromise on the frosting. The frosting recipe I’ve shared above is made in just a few minutes and you can easily make the frosting while the cake cools or better yet, the day before you plan to bake your cake. That said, I’d urge you to purchase organic powdered sugar. After wondering why my frosting was never the consistency I loved when buying cakes from bakeries, I realized it’s because regular powdered sugar has cornstarch in it. Crazy, right? Using organic powdered sugar (usually found right next to the regular kind) is what makes this frosting so especially decadent. Whole Foods, Safeway, and Target should all carry this.
The swaps that I’ve made above for the cake batter make the cake incredibly moist and taste as if you SPENT hours mixing together this cake. I promise you that you’ll appreciate the ROI on the easy swaps of butter for oil & milk for water. In fact, I recommend doing this for any boxed mix that calls for oil and/or water. Thank me, later.
While the brand of the white cake mix does not matter, I would be sure to stick to the white cake mix. I’ve tried it with a few different white cake mixes, and the Duncan Hines brand boxed mix is the one that always comes out great for me. Yellow, carrot, chocolate, or other varieties of boxed cake mix are not going to get you the same result.
EGGLESS RECIPE: I've gotten a couple of questions regarding egg white substitutes. This article is a great reference. I've also have had kind friends share with me how they have successfully made this recipe eggless countless times. Simply whisk together 1/3 cup of applesauce with 1 cup of yogurt (being sure to beat this well to ensure that there are no clumps in your cake batter) before adding in the rest of the ingredients listed above with the addition of 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.