Persian Love Cake

Sprinkled with pistachios and candied rose petals, this cake is as pretty as a picture. Then there’s the evocative scents of rose water, citrus and cardamom – ubiquitous ingredients in Persian baking. The story goes that this cake was first baked by a lovesick Persian woman, in a bid to make a prince fall for her.

Serves 12

7 ounces unsalted butter

5 ounces golden caster sugar

4 medium eggs

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

20 saffron threads

3½ ounces plain flour, sifted

8 ounces ground almonds

1 ounce ground pistachios

Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon

1 tablespoon rose water

1 teaspoon baking powder

Generous pinch of fine sea salt

For the drizzle topping:

2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ tablespoon rose water

To decorate:

3 tablespoons unsalted pistachio nut kernels, chopped

Handful of unsprayed edible rose petals


Pre-heat the oven to 315 F. Grease and line a 9-inch springform cake tin.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour, spices, ground nuts, lemon zest and juice, rose water, baking powder and salt. Fold gently until combined.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 45-50 minutes (if ready, a wooden skewer inserted in the center should come out dry).

Meanwhile, make your drizzle topping by stirring together the confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice and rose water.

Place the baked cake on a wire rack. While still warm, poke small holes over the top with a wooden skewer or fork. Drizzle over the syrup.

When the cake is completely cool, decorate with pistachios and rose petals.


Chef’s tip:
To make your own candied rose petals, whisk egg whites until foamy. Using pastry brush, apply to petals on both sides. Sprinkle on both sides with sugar and dry on a nonstick rack overnight. The petals must be organic, to avoid ingesting any harmful pesticides.