Persian Love Cake

This cake is one of the most fragrant and elegant that I have ever made and every time I make it again I am always reminded of just how simple yet luxurious and flavourful it is. The ground almonds ensure a very moist finish and it can keep for several days if sealed well in a container and will taste just as good as it did fresh. There are quite a few versions of this cake floating around on the web but this version adapted from Yasmin Khan’s original recipe is my favourite. It yields a medium sized cake so double the recipe if you want something a little more impressive. Obviously you will have to make sure the cake pan you are using will accommodate this but the cake doesn’t rise a huge amount.

Its the kind of cake that gets inhaled so don’t expect leftovers – and it’s a perfect tea time treat or after dinner dessert cake – perhaps served with some rosewater whipped cream served next to it.

The large amount of ground almonds means it not a cheap cake to make – and some variations use more flour however I believe this adaptation to be the best tasting and the best texture.

INGREDIENTS – 8-10

200g unsalted butter – room temperature

150g golden caster sugar – I like Natura Sugars

4 medium eggs – room temperature

1/2 tsp cardamom powder – ground cardamom seeds

100g plain organic flour, sifted – or All purpose gluten free flour

275g ground almonds – almond flour

Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon

Zest of 1 lime (optional)

1 tbsp high quality food grade rose water – I get mine from anar & rose online (www.anarandrose.co.za)

1 tsp baking powder

A pinch of fine sea salt

For lemon syrup drizzle

2 tbsp caster sugar

Juice of 1/2 (half) lemon

1 tbsp rose water

For the icing

150g icing sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

To decorate

2 tsp ground pistachios or green pistachio slivers

2 tsp dried rose petals (optional)

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 160C/Gas 3. Grease a 22cm cake tin (one with a removable base) and line it with baking parchment. Or Use a bundt cake tin and grease well to allow the cake to come out easily

In a large mixing bowl or food processor cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. When the mixture is thoroughly combined, beat in the eggs one at a time and mixing well after each one to avoid curdling.

If you are using cardamom pods the take 8 and extract the seeds from them and using a pestle and mortar grind the seeds to a fine powder. Add them to the cake mixture, along with the flour, ground almonds, lemon & lime zest and juice, rose water, baking powder and salt. Mix well.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin of your choice and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. To check if it is ready, stick a skewer into the cake – it should come out dry.

Towards the end of the cooking time, make your drizzle topping. Place the caster sugar, lemon juice and rose water 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 gently allowing it to sink in as you go.

It is VERY important that the cake is completely cool before you ice the cake otherwise it will sink into the cake. Make the icing by combining the icing sugar, lemon juice until you have a smooth, thick icing. You may need to add a touch more water or more icing sugar to get the right consistency.

Spoon the icing gently over the cake and finish with a sprinkling of sliced or powdered pistachios and rose petals or any other additions you think will look pretty. Noosh – e – Jaan! (May it be sweet for your soul)

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