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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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