Filed under: Cakes / Layer cakes
February 9, 2024

Persian Love Cake

A fluffy and moist almond cake infused with cardamom, lemon and rosewater. This persian love cake features two layers and is covered twice with a rosewater and lemon glaze, topped with pistachios and dried rose petals.

5 from 4 votes
Yield: 1 8 inch tall cake
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I had some version of this cake at a bakery in nyc many years ago and it really stuck with me. When I looked for a recipe I found Yasmin Khan’s persian love cake from her book The Saffron Tales. It’s a wonderful combination of almond, lemon, cardamom and rosewater. Khan describes the flavor profile as “a persian garden in the late spring”. The ‘love cake’ concept has been around for awhile, the first might’ve been a Portuguese cake, there is a known Sri Lankan version which uses semolina and sometimes cashews, but it was in Persia where rosewater was added and where this mix of floral, spice and citrus came to fruition. 

It’s safe to say this flavor combination has a delicious chokehold on me: I’ve made persian love cookies (very popular), persian love rolls (milk bread, cardamom and pistachio), and persian love scones (for a tasty breakfast treat). 

When I initially wrote down the idea for this recipe I was just going to take my everyday butter cake recipe and ‘persian love’ it (you’ll note the recipe has quite a bit in common with that one). After the first test though I found I needed to adjust better for the almond flour so I split the fat between butter and oil and because I wanted more water content, I opted for kefir instead of sour cream. 

The result is a fluffy, moist cake with a ton of flavor – none overpower each other but they all kind of blend together to create a really unique and wonderfully blissful taste. 

Recipe Ingredients 

Sugar: fine granulated sugar. Reducing the sugar will cause the cake to be less moist. 

Lemons: fresh lemons, we’ll use the zest for the cake so rub off any wax if you lemons have it. After the cake bakes we’ll juice just one for the glaze. 

Cardamom: Many recipes uses cardamom pods but I just use the ground spice (it’s easier and less potent).

Rosewater: found at middle eastern grocery stores, you can also use orange blossom water if you like it more. 

Eggs: large eggs at room temperature, place them in a bowl of hot water to warm them. 

Oil: any kind of flavorless oil, I like grape seed or avocado. 

Butter: unsalted and softened. 

Almond flour: not almond meal and not ground almond. Almond flour is made from blanched almonds (no skin) and is very fine. 

Cake flour: more finely milled than all purpose and has added cornstarch. If you need to use all purpose, swap out 1 ½ tablespoons of the flour for cornstarch. 

Kefir: full fat or buttermilk. 

Powdered sugar: made with tapioca starch preferably, because it tastes better. 

Rose petals: dried petals, yes these are edible! Find them at a middle eastern grocery store. 

Pistachios: if yours are raw, toast them for about 7 minutes on a flat baking pan. Chop up the pistachios for the topping. 

How to make persian love cake 

 

Prep the cake pans and preheat the oven: butter or grease and flour the cake pans. If you have circular parchment sheets use them too. 

Zest the lemons and rub into the sugar, this helps release the oils so you get better flavor. 

Add the butter, oil, spices and flavorings and affix the paddle attachment. 

Beat until it’s very light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed.

Add eggs one at a time, beating between each: 

Add flours and baking powder, then the kefir. Stop as soon as you have a smooth batter (it will appear rough because of the almond flour but as long as everything looks mixed it’s done). 

Divide between the two pans.

Bake until tops spring back. If you have any doming, slice that off with a bread knife or a cake slicer. 

Once the cakes are cool, make the glaze and assemble.

Can I make half the recipe? 

Yes – use two six inch pans to make the cakes if you want to stack them or just one 8 inch round cake, it will be short and flat. 



Persian Love Cake

Two fluffy almond cakes infused with cardamom, lemon and rosewater; topped with a lemon glaze, pistachios and dried rose petals.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 1 8 inch tall cake
5 from 4 votes

Ingredients

Cake

  • 250 g or 1 ½ cup fine granulated sugar
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 170 g or ¾ cup butter unsalted and softened
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 50 g or ¼ cup flavorless oil
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt halve it if using table salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 143 g or 1 ¼ cup almond flour not ground almonds, not almond meal
  • 195 g or 1 ½ cups cake flour sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 120 g or ½ cup kefir or buttermilk

Glaze

  • 260 g or 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • Pistachios and dried rose petals for topping

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter and flour two 8 inch round cake pans (alternatively use a baking spray).
  • Set the sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and over it zest the lemons. Rub the zest into the sugar using your fingers until the texture resembles wet sand.
  • Add the butter and oil to the bowl, as well as the cardamom, rose water, vanilla and salt. Affix the paddle attachment and beat the mix starting on low, working up to medium speed.
  • Scrape down the bowl as needed and beat again until you have a light and airy mixture.
  • With the mixer on, one by one add the eggs allowing 20-30 seconds between each addition. Scrape down the bowl as needed and beat again until the mixture is all smooth.
  • Add the flours and baking powder and turn the mixer on low, as it mixes pour in the kefir/buttermilk. Mix until just combined.
  • Divide the batter between the two cake pans and smooth out the tops. The cakes won’t dome much in the oven but evening them out prevent any little that might.
  • Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
  • Let the cakes cool in their pan for about 5 minutes after baking then transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Once they are completely cool, slice off any doming with a cake slicer or bread knife (eat the ‘hat’ as a snack 😉 )

Make the glaze

  • Whisk together the powdered sugar, the rosewater, a pinch of salt and about 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. If the mix is too thick, add another tablespoon or two of lemon juice. Add only as much as you need so that the glaze isn’t too thin, once it’s thick but pourable it’s ready.
  • Set the first cake face up on a plate. Spoon some of the glaze on top and smooth it over into an even layer. Add some lemon zest over the glaze if you like.
  • Set the top cake face down and spread the rest of the glaze over it - it will drip to the sides on its own so just spread to the edge. Sprinkle the top with finely chopped pistachios and dried rose petals.

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