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  • Writer's pictureNava

Persian love cake

Every six weeks my book club meets to talk about the book we were supposed to read. But what we actually do is talk about world problems, environment, menopause and husbands, boyfriends and our children…. From time to time someone will recommend a book that a friend-of-a-friend is reading. We all double-check the name of the book and give each other approving nods before we ask if anyone wants to catch a movie or a play for our next meeting. We actually renamed our book club to culture club.

We usually meet at one of our homes and the hostess cooks something light, and the rest of us bring side dishes, salad, rice and cake. This time it was at Lisa . She is a wonderful cook and everyone was far more interested in what was being served and who brought what dish than the week’s literary subject we hadn’t read.

But being a book club (once upon a time at least) I thought it would be appropriate to make a cake that has a story to it. This tale tells of a Persian girl who fell in love with a prince, so she created a cake with magical powers to make him fall in love with her…

I knew the girls would love this super moist cake, soaked with hot rose water syrup, and made with, semolina, almond and pistachio meal and a subtle taste of cardaman. Besides I have been wanting to make this cake by Ottolenghi for a while and haven’t had a chance, so it was a perfect excuse.

I was surprised at how much I LOVED it. It was hard to stop after one piece but I managed to do it (I AM on a diet), until I got home and snuck in a sliver before putting it in the fridge.

I will definitely be making this cake again!!

The cake is an Ottolenghi recipe but the cream and yoghurt topping is my own creation. I have included my ingredients and method if want to try it.

I bought edible rose petals, pistachios and a plum to decorate with



· 3 Cardamom pods

· 150 g shelled pistachios

· plus extra for decoration

· 100 g ground almonds

· 170 g semolina

· 1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder

· 300 g salted butter, at room temperature (or if using unsalted butter add 1/4tsp salt)

· 330 g caster sugar

· 4 large eggs, at room temperature

· 1 tsp lemon juice

· 1 tsp finely grated zest of 1 lemon

· 2 Tbsp rose water

· 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


· 200 g Greek Yoghurt

· 200 g creme fraiche

· 1 Tbsp icing sugar

· 1 Tbsp rose water (optional)


· 100 ml lemon juice

· 80 ml rose water

· 100 g caster sugar

ROSE PETALS (Optional)

· 1 egg white, whisked

· 10 g rose petals

· 25 g caster sugar

for Nava’s cream

300mls thickend cream

1teaspoon vanilla essence

1tablespoon castor sugar

4 tablespoons yoghurt




1. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (160ºC if you are using a fan setting)

2. Grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin

3. Crush the cardamom pods and take out the seeds and place in a food processor.

4. Add the pistachios and blitz until the mixture is finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and add the ground almonds, semolina, baking powder and salt (if using unsalted butter) and mix together and set aside.

5. Put the butter and sugar into an electric mixer bowl with a paddle attachment and beat on medium high until fully combined. Do not over work as you don't want to get too much air into the mix. While the machine is running slowly add the lightly whisked eggs in a few batches. Make sure each batch is incorporated before adding more egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. The eggs will curdle slightly.

6. Remove the bowl from the machine and add the dry ingredients, folding them in gently. Once again do not over mix. Fold in the lemon zest, lemon juice, rosewater and vanilla extract.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and level the top. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean but oily. You need a nice dark golden, firm crust on this cake because you are now going to pour a lot of syrup onto it.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven drizzle the syrup over the top.

There is a lot of syrup, but use it all. Sprinkle the pistachios over the cake whilst it is still wet, which will help the nuts to stick.

Allow the cake to come to room temperature before taking it out of the cake tin. Sprinkle with crystalised rose petals. and serve with the prepared cream.


1. About 10 minutes before the cake is going to come out of the oven start making the syrup. Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring so that the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat. The consistency is very watery and all this syrup is going to be poured onto the cake.


1. Whisk the yoghurt, creme fraiche and icing sugar together, together with the rose water (optional). Serve a generous spoonful with each slice of cake.


1. Brush each petal with whisked egg white and dip into castor sugar. Shake off excess sugar. Place on a lined baking sheet and dry out in the oven at 100ºC for about 20 minutes until crisp and dry

Nava’s cream topping

Whip the cream with sugar and vanilla essence until firm.

Fold in 4 tablespoons yoghurt and spread on top of cake.

I love hearing from you! Let me know how it went and feel free to spread the word/passion/love, the more the merrier!

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