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This Gulab Jamun Cake is a classic South Asian dessert manifested into a cake form. Layers of cardamom cake sandwiched with rose buttercream and pistachios, topped with copious amounts of Gulab Jamuns will impress any dessert lover.
Gulab Jamun is a classic South Asian dessert.
Gulab Jamuns are deep fried dumplings made from a combination of dried milk and flour, flavored with cardamom. The dumplings are then soaked in rose flavored simple syrup to make a melt in your mouth dessert.
Gulab Jamuns are the most popular South Asian desserts. In my family Gulab Jamuns are a favorite dessert, and I guarantee no one would ever turn one down. I wanted to create a cake that was an ode to a favorite dessert.
Flavors in the Gulab Jamun Cake
Gulab Jamuns are definitely sweet, but the addition of cardamom and rose flavors create a more complex flavor profile. The dough is also made with dried milk powder, which gives it a unique texture, that easily melts in your mouth.
In order to recreate the flavors of the cake, I decided to go with a cardamom cake. Cardamom is a warm and earthy spice, and used in both sweet and savory dishes in South Asian cooking.
For the frosting, I made a rose flavored Swiss meringue buttercream. Rose is an ingredient that’s often used in Pakistani desserts to elevate the cake. The rose buttercream frosting, gives the cake an elevated flavor. If you don’t have rosewater, you can just make a vanilla flavored buttercream!
Decorating the Gulab Jamun Cake
To bring the cake together, I used pistachios in between the cake layers, as well as on the outside.
You can taste the dessert in the cake and the frosting, and adding the gulab jamuns on top just brings the whole cake together.
And of course, the whole cake is topped with enough Gulab Jamuns to give every serving some cake and a bite of Gulab Jamun.
I chose to add Gulab Jamuns to the top and the sides of the cake. Another option wold be to experiment with adding some chopped Gulab Jamuns when filling the cake!
Where to get Gulab Jamuns?
I chose to make them from a Gulab Jamun mix, similar to this, found at Indian or Pakistani grocery stores. They also often have ready made Gulab Jamuns available for purchase in the freezer section, or in the canned food sections. If you’re near an Indian restaurant, they most likely have Gulab Jamuns available on their menu.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also make Gulab Jamuns from scratch. Cooking with Manali, has lots of photos with the recipe!
Let me know if you give it a try!
Gulab Jamun Cake
- 90 grams AP flour
- 100 grams granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp powdered cardamom
- 30 grams room temperature unsalted butter
- 1/8 cup cup canola oil
- 1 large egg
- 45 grams sour cream
- 1/8 cup cup water
Rose water buttercream
- 180 grams egg whites about 6 large egg whites
- 360 grams granulated sugar
- 450 grams unsalted butter cubed
- 1 tsp rose water
- 8-10 pieces gulab jamun cut in half
- 1/2 cup crushed pistachios
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour three 4” cake rounds.
- Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder and cardamom in a bowl.
- Add butter, and beat well with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, sour cream and oil until combined.
- Pour in the flour and butter mixture, and beat on medium for 3-4 minutes. The mixture will be dry at this point.
- Add in water and mix until just combined. Do not over mix.
- Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Smooth the tops with a spatula.
- Bake for approx. 20 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10 mins then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined. Place bowl over a hot water bath on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to the touch or until it reaches a temparature of 165 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on medium-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)). Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth. Add vanilla and continue to whip until smooth.
- Put aside 1/2 cup of frosting and color it with pink gel food colouring. This will be used to decorate the cake.
Assemble the cake
- Trim cake tops to create straight layers.
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with approximately 1/3 cup of frosting and spread evenly. Sprinkle crushed pistachios in between the layers.
- Repeat with remaining layers and apply a thin coat of frosting all over the cake. Chill for 20mins. Frost and smooth the sides.
- Draw a horizontal line on one side of the cake. Place 3-4 halves of the gulab jamun along the line, using the frosting to glue the gulab jamun down.
- Stick the crushed pistachios to the open spaces to complete the look.
- Using a Wilton 1M tip, pipe pink frosting around the top of the cake. Place 8 gulab jamun halves on top of the border face down.
- Fill the centre of the frosting rim with pistachios to complete the look.