persian love cake: the sturdy version ::::
Sometimes with love, you just don’t know what you want. The fluff and fun or the serious and sturdy. Sometimes love is different than you imagined: different textures, different bodies, different people, something the traditional kyriarchal storybooks don’t tell. Something way better than Cinderella.
And sometimes, you find those metaphors in love cakes.
In my last post, I posted the recipe for Persian Love Cake #1, a sponge cake with sweetened saffron whipped cream, sprinkled with pistachios and rose petals. Enter Persian Love Cake #2: I couldn’t choose between the two so I made both for my friend’s celebratory pre- pre-wedding brunch. The two cakes have the same name, with similar flavors, but are texturally completely different.
While I liked the fluffy, airy sponge cake of Persian Love Cake #1, the heft of the almond meal based cake and tang of the lemony-rose icing in Persian Love Cake #2 won me over. The contrast of the dense almond cake and the smooth lemony icing topped with crunchy pistachios remind me of dessert or breakfast. This cake has staying power: it doesn’t sog or go bad like Persian Love #1 if left out on the counter. It stays moist for about two days at room temperature, well wrapped. The only big change I’d make to the original recipe is adding more syrup to the cake if serving right away. One tablespoon of lemon juice, with mixings of water, rosewater, and sugar were not enough to moisten the entire cake. Admittedly, I used a 9-inch springform and not an 8-inch, but I did adjust the baking time to avoid overbaking AND I served the cake within two hours of assembling it. Allowing it to sit for a few hours at least helps the syrup filter through and sufficiently moisten. In order words, don’t rush this cake.
I know I posted the recipes below on the last post — I had a light month of posting last May. I’m also adding in Persian style iced tea with rosewater. There is more rose flavor in the tea, which may be too rosy to serve with your cakes, but I love the flavor and don’t mind it balancing the bitter of black iced tea and the sweetness of the cake. Leftovers = a rosy summer breakfast.
One year ago: affogato recipe
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
- CAKE AND SYRUP: 1¾ sticks unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 10 to 12 cardamom pods (a heaping ½ teaspoon of ground cardamom)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2¾ cups almond flour (I did not sift, though needed it to help with lumps)
- Zest of 1 lemon plus ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1½ tablespoons rose water, divided
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- ICING: 1¼ cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Chopped pistachios and dried rose petals (used dried rose buds intended for making tea -- pretty but too chewy to eat. Just decoration.)
- TO MAKE THE CAKE: Preheat the oven to 325 deg F. Butter an 8-inch spring form pan and line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment too. (I used a 9-inch pan.)
- In a large mixing bowl and using a hand mixer, beat the butter and ⅔ cup of the sugar until fluffy. Then beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Crack the cardamom pods to release the seeds using a mortar and pestle. Discard the pods and grind the seeds to a fine powder. I used a spice grinder to make a finer grind.
- Beat the ground cardamom into the cake batter, adding flour, almond flour, lemon zest, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the rose water, baking powder, and salt until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 45 minutes if using the 8-inch pan. I baked for 37 minutes for the 9-inch pan. Transfer to a baking rack and allow to cool slightly.
- TO MAKE THE SYRUP: While cake is cooling, in a small saucepan, bring the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, ½ tablespoon of rose water to a simmer. Stir occasionally on low to medium heat. Dissolve the sugar completely.
- Poke holes all over the cake and pour the warm syrup over the cake. NOTE: If the syrup doesn't seem to be enough to moisten all areas, make another small batch of syrup and add. Concentrate adding it to the margins of the cake, where the cake crumb tends to dry out more quickly compared to the middle.
- Let the cake cool completely, then remove from the pan and transfer to a cake platter.
- TO MAKE THE ICING: Whisk the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons of cold water until smooth. Spoon the icing over the cake and garnish with pistachios and dried rose petals/buds.
- The cake keeps well wrapped on the counter for two days. In fact, it tastes better if allowed to sit for a few hours at least, to let the syrup sufficiently moisten the crumb.