Valentine's Day is tomorrow and I've got a last-minute post for you in the form of Persian love cake. The story behind this cake goes that there was a Persian woman who was madly in love with a prince so she baked him a cake to make him fall in love with her; because what better way is there to win someone over than with cake?! There are multiple versions of the story floating around, some ending happily, some definitely not. It is extremely unlikely to actually be true and is most likely a fairly modern invention; but I do like food with a story!
There are about as many versions of the cake as there are stories, but it is always perfumed and lightly spiced. It commonly includes some or all of the following ingredients: rosewater, pistachios, cardamom, almonds, saffron and orange or lemon. In this case I made a moist cake with ground almonds and flavored it with rosewater, cardamom, nutmeg and orange. It is flecked with chopped pistachios and soaked in a lemon and rosewater syrup before being topped with a lemon icing and a scattering of extra pistachios and edible dried rose petals for a perfectly romantic look.
What are you all doing for Valentine's Day? Damian and I used to celebrate the holiday when we first got together, but over the years we have stopped bothering (we will have been together for twelve years this Summer!). I think I would like to start making the effort to do something for it again though, so this year I am planning on cooking a nice meal at home with a few drinks, and for dessert we'll have this awesome chocolate fountain from the lovely people at Steamer Trading with plenty of fruit, cookies and marshmallows for dipping! They also sent this lovely slate serving tray, leaf shaped dip dishes, heart shaped egg/pancake ring, cute tealight holder, heart shaped ice cube tray and a romantic movie so we are all set for a cosy night in! All I have to do is decide what to cook...
Persian Love Cake
- 110 g (1 stick) butter softened
- 150 g (⅔ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 4 medium eggs
- 12 cardamom pods
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 200 g (2 cups) ground almonds
- 180 g (1 + ½ cups) plain flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 125 g (½ cup) greek yoghurt
- finely grated zest of 1 large orange and juice of half
- 1 tbsp rosewater
- 50 g (5 tbsp) chopped pistachios
- 4 tbsp caster sugar
- juice of 1 large lemon
- 1 tbsp rosewater
- 200 g (1 + ⅓ cups) icing (powdered) sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- chopped pistachios and edible dried rose petals to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Grease a deep, 23cm/9inch round cake tin with a removable base and line the bottom with baking parchment.
- Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.
- Place the cardamom pods in a mortar and bash with a pestle until the seeds come away from the pods. Discard the pods and grind the seeds to a fine powder.
- Sift together the ground cardamom, nutmeg, almonds, flour, baking powder and salt.
- Whisk the eggs into the butter mixture one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add a heaped spoonful of the dry ingredient mixture with each one to help prevent the mixture from curdling.
- Add the rest of the flour mixture along with the yogurt, orange zest and juice and the rosewater and fold through until well combined. Fold in the pistachios.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for about 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cover the top of the cake loosely with tin foil halfway through baking if it begins to darken too much.
- When the cake has nearly finished baking make the syrup. Place the caster sugar, lemon juice and rosewater in a small pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then carefully turn it out onto a wire rack. Poke holes in the top of the cake with a toothpick then brush the syrup all over the top of the cake making sure that it soaks all of it up. Leave to cool completely.
- To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually stir in the lemon juice until it reaches a thick but pour-able consistency. Spoon the icing all over the top of the cake and gently coax it towards the edges with the back of a spoon.
- Sprinkle the cake with chopped pistachios and edible dried rose petals and serve; it is lovely with whipped cream and strawberries!
I originally made this Persian love cake for DIYs, check them out for some awesome craft and recipe ideas.
I received some free products but I was not paid to write this post and all opinions are my own.