Friday Food: Persian Love Cake

Many legends surround the beautiful Persian love cake. Some say that it was baked by a woman to charm a Persian prince. Others add that the pastry is enchanted. With its delicious hints of rose, cardamom & nuts, we wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some truth to the tales!

Fun fact: This cake is similar to the Middle Eastern basbousa “??????” while others say other versions of the cake take a more French approach!

Indulge in a piece of Persian-inspired love, over some Persian sessions with NaTakallam! Visit here.

PREP TIME: 25 mins

COOK TIME: 40 mins

TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 5 mins


For the cake,

  • Butter – 1 cup, softened
  • Sugar – 1 cup
  • Eggs – 4, large, at room temperature
  • Ground almonds – ½ cup (see Notes)
  • Greek yogurt – ½ cup
  • Rose-water – 1½ tsp
  • Lemon zest – 2 tsp
  • All-purpose flour – 2 cups
  • Baking powder – 2 tsp
  • Salt – ¼ tsp
  • Cardamom powder – ½ tsp
  • Saffron – a generous pinch, crushed
  • Milk – ½ cup

For lemon-rose syrup,

  • Sugar – ¼ cup
  • Lemon juice – 2 tsp
  • Rose-water – ½ tsp

For the glaze,

  • Powdered sugar – 1½ cups, sifted
  • Lemon juice – 2-3 tbsp

For decoration,

  • Pistachios – 2 tbsp, roughly chopped
  • Dried rose petals – 2 tbsp


  1. Cake: Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg.F. Generously grease and flour a large bundt or fluted pan. Set aside.
  2. Before you begin, warm the milk slightly and stir in the crushed saffron strands. Let stand till you prep the rest of the ingredients. By the time you need the milk in the recipe, the saffron would have infused all their flavor into the milk and also given it a lovely golden color.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar on high speed for few minutes till pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one by one, beating to mix after each addition. Spoon in some ground almonds along with each egg to prevent the mixture from curdling.
  5. Add Greek yogurt, rose-water and lemon zest and beat to incorporate.
  6. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom powder into this mixture. Add the now cooled saffron milk and mix till batter is smooth. Do not over-mix.
  7. Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Tap the pan lightly on the countertop a coupe of times to remove any air bubbles.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 deg.F and bake for another 20-25 minutes or till the cake passes the toothpick test. If you bake it at 350 deg.F throughout, the cake may brown too rapidly.
  9. Remove the pan from oven and cool the cake in pan for 10 minutes. Gently untold the cake to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
  10. Syrup: During the last few minutes of baking, prepare the syrup. Combine sugar, lemon juice and rose-water in a small saucepan and heat till sugar dissolves and syrup thickens slightly. Brush warm syrup over the warm cake and allow to cool before covering with the glaze.
  11. Lemon glaze: Add 2 tbsp lemon juice to powdered sugar in a bowl. Using either a wire whisk or a spatula, mix together to form a smooth paste. Add more lemon juice as needed to make it into a thick but dripping consistency.
  12. Decoration: Pour glaze all over the top of the cooled cake and allow the excess glaze to drip down the sides of the cake.
  13. Sprinkle chopped pistachios and rose petals all over the top of the cake. Cut into slices and serve.
  14. Storage: Keep cake covered (like in a cake container) on the countertop for 2-3 days. Refrigerate for longer durations.

NOTES:1. Ground almonds: I ground blanched almonds myself to a semi-fine powder using an electric spice grinder. You can use either store-bought almond flour (typically made with blanched almonds that are ground very fine) or almond meal (made with skin-on almonds that are ground somewhat coarse).
2. You can use orange-blossom water, orange juice and
zest instead of rose-water, lemon juice, and zest respectively in the recipe.
3. I have baked the cake at a lower temperature for the latter half of the baking time. You can also bake it at 350 deg.F throughout, but you may need to tent the top to keep it from browning too rapidly. Some cracking on the top of the cake is expected, but it doesn’t matter as you will be inverting the cake anyway.
4. You can also decorate the cake with fresh organic rose petals instead of dried rose petals.


Published by