Persian love cake is a beautifully aromatic, moist and gentle flavoured cake, with a dreaminess all of it's own. This is a truly romantic and beautiful cake. If you want to treat your loved ones, or loved one, to something special this is the cake to delight them with.
Persian love cake is the queen of all cakes folks. I actually feel quite excited to be able to share this cake because it is just so darned special.
Persian love cake is so many things in one beautiful cake:
Without a doubt it is reminiscent of the floral tones of proper rose and lemon Turkish delight.
What is the story behind Persian love cake?
I think the loveliest story attached to this cake is one tells a tale of Persian woman who loved a prince and baked him this cake in the hope that he would return her affections. Let's hope he liked it too then.
I came across this Persian love cake during a search to find a suitable cake to make for Valentine's Day. I will be honest here, I was sceptical. A cake that is flavoured with cardamom and rosewater surely would feel a bit like chomping on a bunch of flowers. But no, far from it! Reason being there are only just enough of these ingredients in my recipe to give a gentle touch of these flavours. They exist and you will be well aware of them, but they are subtle and sit calmly within this moist cake lulling you along within a gentle sea of gorgeous florally flavours.
I am pleased to say it also got the thumbs up from the EBB cake tasters who all swooned over it.
This Persian love cake is, without doubt, now up there in the EBB top best cakes ever.
What makes this cake work so well?
Oh my where do I start. So there are two important elements to get right with this cake:
Ground almonds: now this a delicate cake. Many recipes call for almond flour, but this can be pricey. However ground almonds are a bit too heavy for Persian love cake. So, if you have a coffee grinder, you need to grind the almonds down a bit. Just a few pulses will be enough. Anymore and you risk compacting the almonds (I speak from experience). If you don't have a coffee grinder a food processor will do the job just as well. You can use whole almonds if you prefer, again just whizz them in a food processor until they magically turn into fine flour.
Ground almonds also feature in my Almond, blueberry and limoncello bundt cake giving the cake it's lovely moist texture.
The aromatic flavours...
Cardamom seeds: you need to use cardamom pods, not ground cardamom. This is because the seeds are vital for texture and flavour. Just 12 cardamom pods will give just enough seeds to ensure each slice of Persian love cake has a pop of cardamom that scintillates and surprises the taste buds.
Rosewater: now this is a game changer. When you first open a bottle of edible rose water you will be blown away by how strong the scent is. You may wonder whether to bake with it or dab a bit on your wrists...or both..?!? It is very floral and quite strong and you need to measure it carefully. I wanted this Persian love cake to have floral undertones but not to be overpowering. As such I dabbled with varying amounts of rosewater until I hit on the exact amount required. Rosewater is also added to the syrup and icing so the flavours carry through every element of this Persian love cake.
Decorations: there can be no denying the pistachios and the rose petals really set this cake off and give a hint of the aromatic flavours within. Edible rose petals can be bought easily and cost very little.
How to make Persian love cake
This is quite simple. Just prep all of your ingredients in advance, it always makes life so much easier.
Set your oven and line the base of your tin. Then sift your flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside. Lightly beat your eggs and also set aside. Grind your almonds down into a flour as explained above. Zest and juice your lemon.
Take your cardamom pods and give them a gentle bash, either in a pestle and mortar or with a heavy implement such as a rolling pin. All you want to do here is crack the pods so they release their seeds. Then keep the seeds and discard the husks.
Then it is really just a 5 minute job to combine everything together.
Now to the important bit...
First cream together your butter and sugar until light, fluffy and a pale yellow. Doing this ensures your cake has plenty of air and thus rises.
Gentle beat in ⅓ of your eggs along with a 2 desert spoonfuls of your sifted flour mixed with baking powder and salt. Continue twice more until all of your eggs have been beaten in.
Add all of your remaining ingredients, plus your leftover flour, to your mixture and beat on a medium speed for about 15 seconds. The batter will be quite stiff, but that's how we want it.
Transfer to your tin and level out with the back of a desert spoon. Then bake in the middle of your oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Make your syrup just before your cake comes out of the oven...
Five minutes before your cake comes out of the oven make your rosewater syrup. Add all of the ingredients to a small pan, heat gently until the sugar has totally dissolved. Simmer gently for 2 minutes.
When you take the cake out of the oven, prick it all over with a skewer. Make sure you go right to to the bottom of the cake. Pour over the syrup, using a pastry brush to ensure it is evenly spread.
Leave your Persian love cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.
Make your rosewater icing...
Once totally cooled make your icing. Sift your icing sugar then mix in your lemon juice, water and rose water. To apply evenly to the cake pour the icing steadily into the centre of the cake and allow it to make its way across the top. To ensure an even spread hold the cake gently and slightly tip it in the direction you want the icing to flow. If the icing does not drip gently over the sides, give it a very gently nudge with the end of a spoon to tease it over the edges.
Loosely chop a handful of pistachio nuts and sprinkle onto the icing, along with a small handful of edible rose petals.
And ta-da you will have the prettiest cake anyone could dream of!
Please do let me know how you get on with baking this cake! It is a perfect one for a special night in or a Valentine's Day cake treat.
Persian love cake with rosewater
Here's what you'll need...
- 20 cm loose bottomed round cake tin
- Pestle and mortar (or a rolling pin)
Ingredients you'll need...
Persian love cake
- 200 g unsalted butter softened
- 150 g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs beaten
- 175 g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 200 g ground almonds or almond flour
- 12 cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon rose water
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 75 g granulated sugar
- 30 ml water
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp rosewater
- 180 g icing sugar
- 2.5 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2.5 teaspoon water
- ¼ teaspoon rosewater
- chopped pistachios
- edible rose petals
Here's what we do...
Persian love cake
- Heat your oven to 170°C/150°C fan/Gas mark 3
- Line the base of your 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper.
- Grind your almonds in into a flour using a coffee grinder or food processor. The almonds will compact quite quickly so pulse your grinder or food processor and keep checking the consistency. It will be flour like when ready.
- Beat together your butter and sugar until soft and pale yellow in colour.
- Sift together your flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add ⅓ of your eggs along with 2 desert spoonfuls of flour mixture and beat gently until incorporated.
- Repeat the above step until all of your eggs have been used.
- Using a pestle and mortar give your cardamom pods a gentle bash to release the seeds. Discard the husks.
- Add all of the rest of your ingredients and beat on a medium setting for about 25 seconds until fully combined.
- Transfer to your lined tin.
- Bake in the centre of your oven for about 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of your cake comes out clean.
- Whilst baking make your syrup, so it is ready to be added to your cake as soon as it comes out of your oven.
- Add all of the drizzle ingredients into a small saucepan and heat gently until all of the sugar has dissolved, stirring continually.
- Simmer gently for 2 minutes.
- As soon as your cake comes out of the oven, prick it all over with a skewer and pour over the syrup.
- Spread the syrup evenly across the cake using a pastry brush.
- Leave your cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack until completely cold.
- Sift your icing sugar into a bowl.
- Mix in all of the rest of the ingredients until totally combined.
- Pour over your cake holding the icing above the centre of the cake so that it spreads out evenly and drips gently down the sides of the cake.