love is in the air — twice ::::
This weekend, I focused my efforts on cake making. My kitchen time hasn’t been too strong lately, in part from work and life in general (still, Trader Joe’s feeds us). Prepping, I’ve vigorously cleaned up sugary bits in the kitchen to redirect trails of ants that make their way in with rain and warmer weather. After this baking project, I discovered what else helps to dissuade them: cardamom.
This recipe for a Persian Love Cake has been on my To Do list for years (really), and it seemed like a good time to finally break out the rosewater and pistachios to make it. One of the residents in our program (I really should just call her a colleague now!) is getting married this summer and before the residents all scatter for work and new career directions, the ladies in the group celebrated with, of course, food.
Before I delve into any new recipe, I often do some reading about other similar recipes, to compare techniques and ingredients. Persian Love Cake has many variations, I found, different enough that I couldn’t resolve which sounded the best to try. So I made two. Today’s version is the first version I found years ago from Bon Appétit magazine.
This is a lovely airy cake, the sponge and whipped cream giving just enough lift for that lightness. The cardamom shines through without being too strong. The faint whiff of rosewater doesn’t overpower the cake but fragrant enough to be reminded of flowers at a wedding or such. What I love most about this cake besides the flavors is the textures. Creating a balance between different textures and flavors creates a more satisfying dessert (or any dish, really). The cardamom-scented pillowy cake cushioned in fluffy, sweet saffroned whipping cream is adorned with crunchy pistachios. The candied rose petals often deemed optional garnish in recipes are one of my favorites parts here. I’m not a garnish lover for much of anything, especially if it doesn’t contribute to the taste of the food, but these, these delicate sugar-crusted flecks, are necessary.
Enjoy for your celebrations of love! The next Persian Love Cake is denser with a tangier icing, in line with more authentic Middle Eastern style desserts. Look for Persian Love Cake #2 soon!
Recipe found here at Bon Appétit.
One year ago: affogato (I would drink this every day if I could. It’s a warm coffee ice cream float!)
Two years ago: true north in reconfiguration
Three years ago: pandan macarons with coconut cream filling
Four years ago: coconut peanut sunflower seed chocolate ice cream
Eight years ago: buckwheat salad with mushrooms, fennel, and parsley oil and quick pickled cucumbers
- FOR CANDIED ROSE PETALS: 1 large egg white
- ¼ cup sugar
- Petals from 2 medium sized organic roses
- CAKE: 1 cup cake flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided in half
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 6 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup neutral-tasting olive or canola oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom (about 10 cardamom pods)
- FROSTING/TOPPING: 2 cups chilled heavy cream
- ⅔ cups powdered sugar (I personally like less, but this is the amount recommended in the original recipe)
- Pinch saffron threads
- 1 teaspoon rosewater
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup unsalted pistachios, chopped
- TO MAKE THE CANDIED ROSE PETALS: Whisk egg white in a small bowl until foamy. Use a pantry brush to paint a delicate coat of frothed egg whites onto both sides of each petal. If the froth loosens, re-whisk. If the egg white is too heavy, it will clump and not dry well. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Dry on a wire rack for about 6 hours. If there is ambient humidity, dry and store in the fridge.
- FOR THE CAKE: Preheat oven to 325 deg F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans. Line each with parchment paper and butter the parchment.
- Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and half the granulated sugar in a large bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk egg yolks, water, oil, lemon zest, and cardamom.
- Add wet to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.
- In yet another bowl, beat the egg whites and gradually add spoonfuls of the remaining sugar. Beat until soft peaks form.
- Fold the egg whites into the batter in three parts, taking care not to press the air out of the whites or overmixing. This is what gives the cake lift.
- Divide batter between the two prepared pans and bake for about 18 to 25 minutes, when cakes are golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Cool in pans for about 10 to 15 minutes, then turn onto racks. Peel off parchment and cool completely.
- FOR THE FROSTING: In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup heavy cream and saffron to simmer then remove from heat. Steep 20 minutes. Strain then chill until ready to use.
- Set up a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Add heavy cream and chilled saffron cream. While whisking, add in powdered sugar, vanilla, and rosewater. Whip until stiff.
- Frost the cake, using just less than half the whipped frosting for the first layer. I elected to not use all the frosting and do a "naked" cake style where whipped cream sits between cake layers and on top only. (The kids will take care of the extra whipped cream easily.)
- Chill about 6 hours. Just before serving, decorate with chopped pistachios and candied rose petals. This cake is best eating the day of assembly but can be stored in the fridge for two days.