As soon as I saw Katherine Sabbath's Persian Love Cake pop-up on my Pinterest feed a while back, I knew I had to make it. If you're not familiar with Katherine Sabbath, go spend a minute and Google her name or check out her website here (you'll want to see her cakes!). She's a self-taught Australian baker who's known for her bold and creative cakes. She rarely uses recipes, picks cake flavors based on how she feels that day, and decorates with whatever she has on hand. Her cakes are pure art and from what I've read, she sounds like the coolest chick. I'm also a huge fan of Katherine because, like me, she doesn't like to use fondant because it's not something that adds to the flavor of the cake. (I think we're meant to be best friends!)
Ok, back to the Persian Love Cake. I was intrigued by this cake because of the flavor combinations: spiced caramel and almond mud cake (a mud cake, of any flavor, is going to be a dense cake and is great for stacking and decorating with lot of toppings like Katherine does) and rosewater cream cheese frosting. I've never used rosewater, but I've wanted an excuse to try it and I didn't dare try creating my own recipe for it. Instead, I'm all about turning to a true pro for a first-time try.
The spice caramel and almond cake was a major hit in my book. I loved the caramel and spice flavors together, as well as the texture of the almond meal. To create the caramel flavor, you'll melt white chocolate, brown sugar, water, vanilla paste and golden syrup (I used maple syrup) in a saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture is completely smooth, you'll let it cool for about 20 to 30 minutes before beating in the eggs. At that point, you'll add the self-rising flour (which you must use because this recipe doesn't call for any other rising agents) and spices, and then fold in the almond meal.
The original recipe bakes the cake in one deep cake pan, but I chose to bake the cake in three separate 6-inch round cake pans. This changed my baking time from 50 minutes to 25 minutes.
As for the frosting... unfortunately, it didn't win me over quite as much as the cake layers did. I really tried to like it, but I'm just not a huge fan of the rosewater flavor. I do think the flowery flavor pairs nicely with the sweet caramel spice cake and added salty crunch of the pistachios, but I don't think I'd use this particular emulsion in the frosting again. (Just a personal preference. You may love it!)
I did, however, really like the other flavors and the texture of the frosting, which calls for cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, butter, a cup of powdered sugar and fresh whipped cream. I love how all these flavors worked together, and how the whipped cream gives it a light and fluffy texture. The cake is plenty sweet on its own, so the fact that the frosting isn't overwhelmed by powdered sugar is a plus for me.
And like Katherine, you can decorate this cake with whatever you have on-hand. I went with edible pearl beads, white chocolate chips, pistachios, and crushed freeze-dried strawberries.
Final verdict for me, I love the cake and will be using it again and again... the frosting, however, probably won't be making a repeat appearance in my kitchen.
I hope you'll try this one. I'd love to hear what you think of all the flavors and textures. Maybe I'm the minority when it comes to a rosewater affinity?
Persian Love Cake (recipe source: Katherine Sabbath)
Yield: one, three-layer 6" cake
For the Spiced Caramel and Almond Mud Cake
200 grams butter, cubed
200 grams good quality white chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli chips)
150 grams (3/4 cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
250 mls (1 cup) hot water
2 tablespoons golden syrup (I used pure maple syrup)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (can use pure vanilla extract)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
150 grams (1 cup) self-raising flour
225 grams (1 1/2 cups) almond meal
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cardamon
(If you're not a huge fan of ginger and cardamon, you could use a teaspoon of nutmeg in place of them - a slight flavor change but still gives you a good spiced cake flavor)
For the Rosewater Cream Cheese Frosting
500 grams cream cheese, softened
250 grams mascarpone, softened
100 grams butter, softened
250 mls heavy cream, whipped
250 grams (1 cup) icing/powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon rosewater
3-4 drops pink food coloring
For the Cake:
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a round deep (17 cm) spring form cake pan - OR- three 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and then line base with parchment paper and spray one more time. Set aside.
2. Place the butter, white chocolate, sugar, water, golden syrup (or pure maple syrup), and vanilla bean paste in a medium saucepan. Stir ingredients over medium-low heat with a rubber spatula for five minutes or until the chocolate melts completely and your mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside for at least 20 minutes to cool.
3. Once the mixture has cooled, pour it into a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well.
4. Sift the flour and spices over the white chocolate mixture and mix until well combined. Finally, fold in the almond meal until well combined.
5. Pour your cake mixture into prepared pan or pans. If you're using three 6-inch pans like I did, you'll pour about 13 ounces of batter into each pan. Use a scale to ensure you get equal amounts in each pan for even cake layers.
6. If you use one spring-form pan, bake the cake for 50-60 minutes. If you use three separate pans, you're baking time will be 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out almost clean. Allow the cakes to cool for 20 minutes or so before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
7. If you used one cake pan, once the cake is cooled completely, carefully slice the cake into three even layers. Cover cake layers in plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator until you're ready to assemble the cake.
For the Frosting
1. Use an electric mixer to whip together the cream cheese, mascarpone, butter, icing sugar, rosewater and food coloring until pale and fluffy.
2. Gently fold in the whipped cream until combined. If your filling appears to be too soft to pipe neatly, refrigerate it for 15 to 20 minutes in order to firm up to a more workable consistency.
1. Secure the bottom cake layer onto a cake board or plate using a dollop of the filling. Next, fill a pastry bag with the filling. Starting from the outside edge, pipe the filling onto the cake layer until completely covered.
2. In between filling and stacking each layer, be sure to give a generous sprinkling of crushed pistachios and meringue (I didn't use this).
3. Once the layers are assembled, adorn the top of the cake with remaining crushed pistachios, crushed meringue, a sprinkling of freeze-dried raspberries (or strawberries), a scattering of rose petals and slices of fresh figs.
4. Best served at room temperature.