Persian Love Cake

persianlovecake2

Summer is here and roses are blooming everywhere and so we couldn’t resist the opportunity to put the flavour of roses in pretty much everything we are cooking these days. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of our favourite rose inspired concoctions, both sweet & savoury, so do drop by if you feel like filling your kitchens with the scent of roses.

The first of our recipes is a Persian Love Cake. The story goes that this magical cake was first made by a Persian woman for a Prince she was in love with. And what’s not to love about this intently moist, sweet, rich almond cake with hints of rosewater, cardamom & lemon. This is hands down my favourite almond cake and a great one  to make for a party because it keeps well, is  yummy and looks impressive but is so easy to make. This recipe is from Yasmin Khan’s The Saffron Tales and I’ve never found the need to change anything  because I love it as it is, but replacing the lemons with oranges , using hazelnuts instead of pistachios or making little Persian love cupcakes (especially for Valentine’s Day) could be nice twists.

persianlovecake1

I’ve made this cake 2 days in advance and it has always tasted better that way. You could take the traditional route and make the lemon icing in this recipe or you could whip up some lemon cream , rose buttercream or even mix store-bought pistachio cream with freshly whipped cream to top this cake. The variations are endless . If you want to make a 2 layer cake like I have here, just remember to double the portions for the lemon icing so you can top each layer.Handle the cake with care when layering, it’s so soft that it cracks easy. 

Serves 8

Ingredients

The Cake

200 g unsalted butter

150 g caster sugar

4 medium eggs

12 cardamom pods

100 g plain flour, sifted

275 g ground almonds

1 unwaxed lemon, zested and juiced

1 tablespoon rose water

1 teaspoon baking powder

a generous pinch fine sea salt

The Syrup

2 tablespoon caster sugar

1/2 lemon, Juiced

1/2 tablespoon rose water

The icing

150 g icing sugar

3/4 lemon, Juiced

2 teaspoon cold water

To Decorate

2 teaspoons sliced pistachios or pistachio granules

2 teaspoons dried or fresh rose petals, roses or rosebuds

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 22 cm cake tin and line it with baking parchment.

Grind the whole cardamom pods in a pestle & mortar, discard the green shells and pound the little black seeds until they become a powder. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until just combined , don’t over-beat. Then add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined.

Add the cardamom seeds to the mixture. Then add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and rose water.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin , even out the top and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes.

Check the cake close to the end of the baking time by sticking a fork in the middle. It should come out clean. Place the cake on a  wire rack to cool.

While waiting for the cake to bake, make the syrup. Using a small pan over low heat, combine the caster sugar, rose water and lemon juice and stir until the sugar melts completely. While the cake is still warm, use a toothpick or fork to poke holes all over the top and then drizzle the syrup over the cake,making sure you cover the whole top of the cake.

Let the cake cool completely.

To make the icing combine the icing sugar, lemon juice and a 3-4 teaspoons of cold water  and stir well until the icing is smooth and thick. Make the icing just before you want to use it or it will harden. Spoon the icing over the cake and let it drip down the sides. Decorate with the roses and pistachio.

If you want to make a double layer cake, use a serrated knife or cake slicer to slice the cake. Spoon half the icing over the bottom layer, place the top layer over that with the top (rounded part of the cake) facing down ,

=[then spoon the rest of the icing over that. This video from ZoeBakes will explain how to do that better than I can with words.

x Anu & Suba

Advertisements

The Perfect Picnic : Fig, Lemon and Ricotta Focaccia

Fig Lemon Focaccia 2Lemon Fig Focaccia

Focaccia is surprisingly easy to make and these will make a lovely addition to your picnic basket. We’ve had tons of disasters with dough and still do, but we find the best way to work with it’s sticky character is just to keep it simple & not overthink it.During the fermentation (rest) period , it helps to place the dough near a warm oven so it rises well. We got this and some other great tips on bread making from a book called Artisan breads by Eric Kastel, which is sort of our encyclopaedia on all things bread.

We decided to do away with the regular tomato and rosemary topped focaccia and try something a little different. This flavour is all summer- light and sweet and lemony .Cut these into bite sized squares.

Prep time : 30 mins   Rest time : 2.5 hrs   Cook time : 40 mins

Makes 1 large or 2 small loafs

Ingredients

The Dough:

550g Bread Flour 

7g Dry Yeast

12g salt

16 g sugar

250 ml water

115 ml milk

45ml olive oil

The Salamoia:

65ml water

65ml olive oil

25g salt flakes

The Toppings:

1 lemon, outer yellow skin peeled and very thinly sliced crosswise 

3 figs sliced lengthwise

2-3 Tbsps of fresh ricotta

I spring of mint leaves, chopped

Method

Mix the ingredients for the salamoia in a small bowl and whisk together until well emulsified.This is going to go on top of the focaccia as a last step.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients, then add the olive oil, water & milk – all a little at a time, stirring with a fork as you add. Stir until you get a rough dough. Knead the dough in the bowl, it will be wet & sticky at first , but keep going & it will come together.

When you are able to collect all the dough into a ball, transfer it to your kneading surface (we use a silicone baking mat) and knead well for about 10 mins until you get a  smooth ball of dough. We push the dough down with the heel of palm, fold it over and repeat. There are great kneading techniques here or you could just give the dough a good bashing & throw down like Subas’ mom-in law does!

Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let it rest in a warm place for 2 hours.

While waiting, prepare your baking sheet by oiling it generously with olive oil , you can really use any size or shape pan you like and shape your dough to fit it.

When the rest time is over, knead the dough again for 5 mins on your kneading surface and then pull the ball of dough on both ends to get an oblong shape and place it on your baking tray. Spread it out with your fingers on the top , bottom & sides to get a longer oblong shape.

You could spread it out to a rectangle shape or  really any shape you choose depending on your baking sheet. You could also split the dough into two make two loafs. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it will expand  a little again in the next step.

Leave it to rest for 30 mins.While waiting , prep the toppings and preheat your oven to 180c

When the rest time is up, reshape your dough fixing any areas that are messy. Using your fingers , poke holes all over the dough(this is the fun part!).

Arrange the lemon & fig slices on the focaccia and press them into the dough. Dot with the ricotta.

Pour the prepared salamoia evenly over the dough.Bake for 30-40 mins until crusts are golden. Top with the fresh mint. 

If you like this, try our Berries , Lavender & Pimms Jam or Amaretti & Tahini Cookies to go in your picnic basket.

x Anu & Suba