Four layers of aromatic cardamom spiced pistachio cake, finished with a light and dreamy rose buttercream. A truly romantic cake, a beautiful gift for the one you love.
A Persian Love Cake is a beautiful thing. The story goes of a girl so in love with a Prince she needed a way to win his heart, so she baked him a cake. Naturally. Depending on which version you go with, this all ended very happily, or it didn’t. I’m going to go with the former. If there’s any way to win someone’s heart, surely cake is it.
This is a love story after my own heart. I am, by nature, a feeder. There are few things I love more than making people food and seeing them enjoy it. A physical manifestation of love, a way to show someone you care, nourishing them in more ways than one. Having all my friends around the table and feeding them good food, giving them cake at the end of a hard week. Cake to celebrate happy moments, proud moments. Cake that says I understand, I’m here, I love you.
I suspect I am destined to become one of those old ladies that won’t let you leave the table until every scrap of food is gone. That feeds you up, that pushes seconds upon you, that always tries to give you just one more spoonful, one last piece. Sometimes I get a niggling suspicion that Andy is mostly with me because I feed him. Have his dinners on the table, bring him coffees in the morning, keep him well supplied with the baked treats he claims not to really like, but still snaffles down anyway.
Looking through the internet there are two very distinct ways to make this cake. One is a dark, unadorned syrupy cake. The other is a lighter cake, topped with rose buttercream. One thing they both have in common is cardamom. That rich, heady spice that whisks you away to exotic lands and love stories full of princes and magic.
I’ve taken inspiration for my cake from here and adjusted the spices. Its a beautifully moist cake, perfumed and aromatic. The swiss meringue buttercream is the perfect accompaniment to the nutty cake. Light, soft and dreamy. Sugared rose petals and pistachio nuts finish it off. I love the combination of the vivid pink, and the subtle green.
The pistachio cake is deliciously moist, with a little bit of crunch and texture from the pistachios. The swiss meringue buttercream is very light and romantic. Its got a little rose water in it, but not too much, its a gentle floral note, not at all soapy or synthetic. Delicate sugared rose petals are a beautiful way to decorate the cake. They’re simple to make, petals are brushed with egg white and caster sugar and left to dry in beautiful, iridescent crystals.
The cake is baked in 5 inch tins, giving it height whilst keeping it small. The perfect sized cake to give to your love this Valentine’s Day.
– if you’d rather use ground cardamom, substitute 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon according to taste. Remember, its a strong flavour – a little goes a long way!
– if its your first time making a swiss meringue buttercream, have a look at this tutorial first.
– if you prefer, bake the cake into 2 large tins (eg. 6 or 7 inch) and make the cake with 2 layers instead of 4.
– make sure your rose hasn’t been sprayed with any chemicals. Many flowers from florists have been, so make sure you check.
Rose and Pistachio Persian Love Cake
(inspired by Poires au Chocolat)
for the cake
170g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
115g caster sugar
55g soft light brown sugar
1 – 2 cardamom pods
3 medium eggs
85g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
55g ground pistachios
for the buttercream
5 large egg white at room temperature
200g caster sugar
226g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature, and cut into tablespoon sized pieces
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon rose water
1 egg white
1 tablespoon caster sugar
20g pistachios, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ 350F.
To make the pistachio cake.
Grease and line two loose bottomed 5 inch round cake tins.
Cream together the butter and sugars until light and pale.
Remove the cardamom seeds from the pod, and grind in a pestle and mortar until fine. Stir through the butter and sugar mixture.
In a separate bowl, sift together your flour and baking powder.
Add one egg to the butter mixture, along with a tablespoon of the flour mixture and beat to combine. Repeat with the remaining eggs and flour, and then beat in any remaining flour.
Fold through the pistachios.
Divide the batter evenly between your two tins.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden brown, and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
To make your buttercream.
Whisk together the egg whites and caster sugar in a large heat proof bowl.
Put the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water whisking constantly until the mixture has warmed and all the sugar has dissolved. Test by rubbing a little of the mixture between your fingers, if it still feels gritty then its not ready and it will need longer.
Remove the bowl from the heat and begin to whisk your eggs with electric beaters. Keep on whipping until you’ve formed glossy stiff peaks.
Now start adding the butter, one little piece at a time, whipping all the time. You should ensure each piece of butter is fully incorporated before going on to add the next piece. Keep going until you’ve used up all the butter.
The buttercream may started to look really thin and soupy. If this happens pop it in the fridge for about 10 minutes, and then try whipping again. The mixture may also become lumpy and separated and look like its curdled. Don’t panic. This is completely normal and can be fixed by continuing to whip. Keep whipping until you’ve got a thick spreadable looking buttercream.
Add in your rose water.
To make the sugared rose petals.
Remove the petals from one unsprayed rose.
Brush each rose with egg white on both sides, then sprinkle over caster sugar.
Arrange on a baking sheet and leave to dry for about 2 hours.
To assemble the cake.
Cut each of the cakes evenly in half so you have 4 layers. Even off any doomed tops.
Place one layer of cake onto your cake stand or plate.
Spread over about 1 5th of the buttercream.
Add the next layer and repeat until you have stacked all your layers.
Crumb coat the cake with about another 5th of the buttercream and pop in the fridge for about half an hour to chill and set.
Finally, cover with the remaining buttercream.
Decorate with the roughly chopped pistachios, and the sugared rose petals.