Featured in Vogue

 In Book, Persian food, Uncategorized

Everyone is going mad for Persian Love Cakes – read this interview with in Vogue.com to find out why…

Will Persian Love Cakes Be the Next Wedding Cake Trend? 

Take a scroll through the hashtag #PersianLoveCake on Instagram, and you’ll find almost 2,000 pink and green creations, each more fantastical than the last. Baked with rosewater and cardamom, and usually decorated with petals and pistachios, they feel like a welcome break from the omnipresent and more generic naked cake. But what exactly is at the heart of this dessert?

The cookbook The Saffron Tales: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan includes a Persian love cake recipe and comes out tomorrow in the U.S. Khan, incidentally, had created a rosewater-based cake for her book, unaware of the cake’s growing presence on the Internet. “I can’t even quite remember what I called it, but when my editor saw it, she said, ‘Oh, that’s a Persian love cake!’”

Even if the dessert’s name has evolved more recently, this type of cake has in essence been a part of Persian culture for centuries. “Iran was the first place in the world to distil rosewater more than 2,000 years ago,” Khan explains. “And in Iran, roses and rosewater are used in all sorts of ways—culinary, medicinal—even Persian poetry is dotted with references to roses.” But it’s not just roses that hold a high level of significance in Persian culture. Cardamom and pistachios—the two other key ingredients in a Persian love cake—are as traditional to Iranians as chocolate or cinnamon are to Americans. “I would go so far as to make the bold assumption that 80 percent of desserts in Iran have those three flavors in them,” says Khan, “and that’s not an exaggeration.”

But half of the appeal of a Persian love cake is certainly how individuals tend to make them their own—frippery is everywhere, from frosting to fig garnishes. As Khan astutely observes, recalling the assorted images that she has seen, “they almost seem to be varied odes to classic Persian ingredients, and I kind of like that about it! Love”—be it in the context of a dessert name or not—“is so personal. We all love different things, so maybe in a way these cakes represent that.”

Persian Love Cake

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

7 oz. (1¾ stick) unsalted butter
Scant ⅔ cup superfine sugar
4 medium eggs
12 cardamom pods
¾ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2¾ cups ground almonds
Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
1 T rose water
1 tsp. baking powder
A pinch of fine sea salt

For the drizzle topping:
2 T superfine sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
½ T rose water

For the icing:
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
Juice of ¾ lemon
2 tsp. cold water

To decorate:
2 tsp. chopped pistachios
2 tsp. dried rose petals (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 320°Farenheit. Grease a 9-inch springform and line it with baking parchment.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. When the mixture is thoroughly combined, beat in the eggs.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. When the mixture is thoroughly combined, beat in the eggs.

Place the cardamom pods in a mortar and work with a pestle to get the seeds out of the pods. Discard the pods and grind the seeds to a fine powder. Add them to the cake mixture, along with the flour, ground almonds, lemon zest and juice, rosewater, baking powder and salt. Mix well.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. To check if it is ready, stick a fork in the middle of the cake—it should come out dry.

Toward the end of the cooking time, make your drizzle topping. Place the superfine sugar, lemon juice and rosewater in a small pan over a low heat and heat until the sugar melts.

Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Poke holes all over the top of the warm cake and drizzle over the syrup.

When the cake is completely cool, make the icing by combining the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and a few teaspoons of water until you have a smooth, thick icing. Spoon the icing over the cake and finish with a sprinkling of sliced pistachios and, if you like, rose petals.

Copyright 2016 Yasmin Khan. Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury.

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