Happy Nowruz! Today is Persian New Year and to celebrate that we had dinner at my Persian friends’ house yesterday. I offered to bring a cake which she was happy for me to do. I thought I’d surprise her and make something Persian.
Turns out, neither she or any of her Persian friends had ever heard of a Persian Love Cake. But they did say the flavours took them back to their childhood. We mused about the name ‘Persian Love Cake’ and one of her friends came up with the idea that it might derive from ‘the things Persians love’.
This delicious cake has cardamon, rosewater and pistachios – things Persians have traditionally used in their cuisine.
Upon my search for a recipe I had a look at The Hungry Australian’s blog and her cake looked exactly like something I had in mind.
I pretty much followed her recipe and only added a little bit more rosewater. It turned out beautifully!
To celebrate the start of the year 1394 my friend had prepared traditional Persian food. Fish stuffed with a mixture of walnuts, olives and pomegranate molasses, herbed rice with a crispy bottom and lamb with eggplant.
In the lounge room was a table set up with a Nowruz display. Each of the items displayed have a special meaning and all have words that start with ‘S’ in farsi. Sumac for the sunrise and the spice of life. Senjed a sweet dry fruit of the lotus tree (similar looking to dates) for love and affection. Serkeh (vinegar), for patience and age. Seeb (apples), for health and beauty. Sir (garlic), for good health. Samanu (a wheat paste), for fertility and the sweetness of life. Sabzeh (sprouted wheat grass), for rebirth and renewal of nature. A bowl with goldfish to symbolize new life, hyacinths to symbolize spring and a mirror to look back at and reflect on the past year. I love the symbolism behind these items, they are all things we should be grateful for every day.
The dinner was delicious, my cake was a success and got the thumbs up from everyone including my Persian friend.
Rosewater and Cardamon Bundt Cake with Honey Pistachio Icing
125g unsalted butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla bean essence
2 large eggs at room temperature
325g plain flour
1 generous tablespoon baking powder
1 level teaspoon ground cardamon
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons rosewater (available at Asian and Middle Eastern grocers)
125g butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons honey (I like Blue Gum honey)
1 tbsp rosewater
2 tbsp boiling water
150g unshelled roasted pistachios
1 handful food quality dried rose petals(optional)
Preheat oven to 180°C and thoroughly grease a Bundt tin.
Cream butter with a stand or hand mixer and then gradually add the sugar and vanilla, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Add each egg one at a time, beating well after each egg so everything is fully combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula if required.
Mix the milk and rosewater together.
Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, cardamon and salt and then add to the mixing bowl in three batches, alternating with the milk mixture. Be careful not to overmix the batter, otherwise you’ll end up with a tough cake, instead of a light and airy one!
Spoon into the Bundt tin and even out with a spatula, optionally tap the cake tin on the counter to flatten and get rid of air bubbles.
Bake for around 40-45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Cool in tin for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
To make topping, cream butter until light and airy, then add the honey in two batches, mixing well after each addition. Add the rosewater, then add the water one tablespoon at a time and continue beating until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
When the cake has cooled completely, trim base to level if necessary. Use and offset spatula to ice cake, then decorate with chopped pistachios and rose petals.