Persian Love Cake1/22/2014 10:12:00 PM
|Persian Love Cake|
Persian Love Cake. Isn't that just the most gorgeous, evocative name? I've eaten versions of it at cafes before (once at Ottolenghi cafe in London, and once at Storm in a Teacup, and both were very different), but I don't really know that much about its history or origins. A quick web search didn't reveal much about the provenance of the cake, apart from the fact that most blogs I found used the exact same recipe, by Chef Gerard Yaxley of the now-closed Qöm Restaurant, which was originally published in Gourmet Traveller. They all raved about it too, and it seemed similar to the one I enjoyed at Storm in a Teacup, so it's the recipe I chose when I wanted to bake one myself. (This was for a weekend afternoon tea catchup with a good friend who appreciates good food and happens to be coeliac - this cake is gluten free).
I adapted the recipe slightly, halving the quantities, and changing up the sugars and spices used - the recipe suggests only nutmeg; I used a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom to keep in line with that dreamy Persian vibe, just with a more complex flavour.
It is so, so easy to make - no complicated techniques or machinery required! You simply take some almond meal, sugar, salt and butter, and mix it with your fingers until it forms coarse crumbs.
You then press half the mixture into a prepared baking tin...
...and mix the remaining crumble mixture with an egg, yogurt and the spices to form the top layer. Sprinkle over pistachios and bake!
|Ready to bake|
|Persian Love Cake|
I must admit I was a little nervous serving this cake, as I thought the flavour profile might be a little challenging with all the spices. But you know what? It was amazing! There was a crumbly, sugary base, with an extremely moist, almost moussey spiced filling. The flavours are quite strong, but it's so easy to eat. We each practically inhaled two slices, and for my own good I forced myself to pack up the remaining cake so I could give it to my friend Alaina the next day!
She texted me back shortly after the cake drop-off:
THIS CAKE IS DELICIOUS. It's perfect. It's the perfect complementary caramelly, almost savoury flavour.Hooray!
|Persian Love Cake|
I like this version much better even than the one I tried at Ottolenghi cafe in London, where it was just a little almondy loaf cake, without the heady spices and contrasting textures. So gorgeous.
The half-teaspoon of salt in the recipe does seem like quite a lot, and you can taste it, especially in the base, but it really makes the other flavours pop, so don't be shy! (If you're not a fan of salt in desserts, then reduce the quantities, but I'd still suggest adding a pinch!) Sour Greek yogurt on the side is a fabulous accompaniment too. Enjoy!
Persian Love Cake
Adapted from a recipe by Gerard Yaxley of Qöm Restaurant (now closed), originally published in Gourmet Traveller
180 grams almond meal
110 grams demerara sugar
110 grams brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (or less if you prefer)
60 grams unsalted butter, softened
125 Greek yogurt, plus extra to serve
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and line an 18 cm springform tin with baking paper.
Mix together the almond meal, sugars and salt in a bowl to combine evenly. Add the butter and rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin and press down gently to cover the base evenly.
To the remaining mixture, add the egg, yogurt and spices, and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. Pour this mixture over the prepared base, and sprinkle the chopped pistachios around the border.
Bake until golden brown and just set, approximately 30 minutes.
Allow to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack, before gently unmoulding and transferring to a serving plate.
Serve with extra Greek yogurt on the side.
Makes an 18cm round cake, serve 4-6