This Persian Love Cake recipe is a rich moist butter cake flavoured with the floral scent of rose water, saffron, cardamom and citrus. Dabbed with warm aromatic syrup, a simple sugar glaze and garnished with pistachios and rose petals make this the perfect cake to win hearts.
You may treat yourself like I did by baking this for my birthday because self-love is the need of the hour. Truth be told, my earliest plan was to bake this for our wedding anniversary but guess it was destined for my day!😊
The first time I came across a Persian Love Cake was on Yasmin Khan's page I think it was for her book, The Saffron Tales. The story behind the cake fascinated me because if you remember, I had started this blog as a journey to his heart through his stomach.
My birthday cake
I had a secret Pinterest board where I hoarded all the Persian Love Cake recipes in the bundt, loaf, cupcake, layered etc. because I was dreaming to bake one for our anniversary or his birthday.
The Persian Saffron Cake baked in a bundt pan looked stunning but I have also heard bundt pans are tricky and a nightmare in themselves. I waited to grow courageous and buy a bundt pan. But after years of postponing I finally gave in to my cowardice. Instead of buying a bundt cake pan, I baked this love cake for my birthday in a springform pan! Bundt can wait... love for love cake can't!
I started this tradition of baking birthday cakes with this Chocolate Cake for mine and Burnt Cheesecake for his. You are never too old to celebrate birthdays and even if it is a day closer to the grave, it is the life we lived that deserves a celebration.
It wasn't easy to pick a recipe because no two recipes for this love cake were the same! After several read-ups of all the Pins, I took notes of the recipe for Persian Love Cake from Yasmin Khan, Shadi of Unicorns in the Kitchen and Persian Food Tours and adapted the best of three for my 8-inch springform pan.
But I had a hiccup - my cake came out with a large dome! I know it does not alter the taste but it is not pleasing to the eyes! I wanted a nice, flat, levelled cake and here I have a domed cake! After battling between the idea to slice off or not slicing off, I decided to keep the dome but took the time to educate myself on how to prevent it next time.
How to prevent domed cake?
Some of the highly recommended steps to prevent domed cake are to bake in a dark-coloured pan or use baking strips to cover the sides of the pan or bake at a lower temperature for a longer time. I should add, an oven thermometer to the list. The baking strips seemed to be the best and guaranteed option but they are not cheap! I could buy a bundt pan for that 😂
I then found that You can easily do a DIY cheap baking strip using a towel. As I am writing this, I baked a carrot cake last night without a baking strip but at a lower temperature for a longer time and it did prevent the dome and cracks I will test another time with a DIY baking strip and keep you all posted about it.
You can save a domed cake. If you end up with a domed cake, see if it can be hidden by flipping the cake bottom side up. If it is too much of a dome, then slice off a bit and then flip. This way you can save the whole cake and have a flat levelled surface to frost or glaze.
Why is it called Persian Love Cake?
My first guess would be because it has rose water flavour and the rose is the universal symbol of love! And, if you look at the recipe, all the flavours used in this cake are the epitome of Persian cuisine. So it is apt to call this Persian Love Cake. It is believed that there was a Persian woman who was madly in love with a Prince. She baked this cake for him to make him fall in love with her. If the story is true, then I am sure he did fall for her and that is why the cake got its name. If he didn't, his loss! I am sure she would have enjoyed the cake on her own. 😄
Ingredients for Persian Love Cake
- Saffron: A pinch goes a long way if stewed properly taking time. So if using saffron make sure you crush some with a dash of sugar and soak it in hot milk. The longer it sits, the more it can extract. If you don't want to use saffron, then you still need the milk in the cake. In that case, use normal room temperature milk.
- Cardamom powder: for flavour.
- Rose water: for flavour.
- Orange blossom water: for flavour. Optional.
- Lemon juice: Used in the syrup and glaze.
- Milk: Use warm milk for making saffron flavour or use room temperature milk if you are skipping saffron.
- Unsalted Butter: I cut the butter into small cubes and let it sit in the bowl to soften. If using salted butter, then skip the salt in the flour mix.
- Labneh: You know my love for labneh but you can use hung yoghurt or greek yoghurt.
- Eggs: I have used large eggs.
- Sugar: Regular white granulated sugar.
- Almond flour: Highly recommended but you may replace it with all-purpose flour.
- Plain flour: also known as maida or all-purpose flour
- Baking powder: Do not replace it with baking soda.
- Salt: Adjust if using salted butter.
- Icing sugar: also known as Confectioners' Sugar or powdered sugar. You may make your own by powdering granulated sugar. But make sure to sift and measure before adding to the recipe.
- Pistachios or almonds: Slivered is the best for garnishing. I ran out of them, so soaked, peeled, sliced and chopped.
- Rose petals: Dried rose petals always add an oomph factor.
How to make Persian Love Cake?
You cannot walk into the kitchen and start making this cake. You need to plan and keep all the ingredients ready before you start the batter preparation. My written recipe is always in the order of making so you will start with saffron milk.
- Keep ingredients measured and ready in their required state like room temperature, softened, powdered, etc.
- Prepare saffron milk: You can make this a day ahead and store it in the fridge.
- Prepare the batter: I don't own a stand mixer but used a handheld electric mixer with two whisks.
- Prepare the syrup: The cake should still be warm so make sure you start the syrup as soon as the cake is out.
- Prepare the glaze: Always glaze the cake when it is completely cooled.
all measurements are made using measuring cups where 1 cup = 250ml and used scoop and sweep method.
Persian Love Cake that I baked for my Birthday
For the saffron milk
- a pinch of saffron strands
- a pinch of sugar
- ½ cup milk warmed
For the cake batter
- 200 grams unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup almond flour
- ½ cup full-fat labneh you can use hung yoghurt or greek yoghurt
- 2 teaspoons rose water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour maida
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the aromatic syrup
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon rose water
- ½ teaspoon orange blossom water optional
For the glaze
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- slivered pistachios
- dried rose petals
Prepare the saffron milk
- Crush the saffron strands with a dash of sugar with a back of a spoon. The sugar helps to break down the saffron strands easily and we can get the maximum out of the little saffron. Stir in the crushed saffron to the warm milk and keep it covered until needed. You can make this ahead and keep refrigerated.
Prep the pan and oven
- Grease an 8-inch springform pan and line the sides and the bottom with baking paper. Measure and keep all the ingredients ready. Preheat the oven to 160℃.
Prepare the cake batter
- Add the plain flour, baking powder and salt to a small bowl and whisk to combine. In a larger bowl, add the softened butter and sugar. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisker at high speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one making sure to whisk each before you add the next. Whisk in the cardamom powder and almond flour. Make sure to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add the labneh or greek yoghurt and rose water and whisk again. Fold in the flour mixture and the saffron milk just until combined. Do not overmix.
Bake the cake
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula or the back of the spoon. Tap the pan on the countertop once or twice to remove any trapped air bubbles. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake passes the toothpick test. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes while you can prepare the syrup.
Prepare the syrup
- Carefully remove and place the cake on a wire rack. Heat the sugar, lemon juice and rose water and orange blossom water until sugar melts and thickens. Brush this warm syrup all over the warm cake and let it cool completely.
Prepare the glaze
- Whisk the icing sugar and lemon juice to a smooth paste. If it is too thick, add just a dash of water and if it turns too runny, then add some more icing sugar.
Garnish the cake
- Pour the prepared glaze over the cake only after the cake is completely cooled. Sprinkle rose petals and pistachios all over the cake. Store any leftover cake covered fully in the refrigerator.