Father's Day Tribute - !کیک عشق - My Version of Persian Love Cake


A few years ago when I was just starting to blog about the food of my heritage, I came across an image of "Persian Love Cake," a chiffon cake with a few pink rose petals scattered about. My first reaction was: no way, how come I've never heard of this before?! Where was I all that time growing up in Iran when everyone else was eating کیک عشق - cake-e eshgh? After my initial surprise I realized there was no need to worry and that this was a newly created concoction of aromatic and flavorful classic Persian ingredients. I figured since the combination of saffron, rose water, cardamom and lemon zest transforms a simple cake into a magical Persian love cake, then we Iranians have been consuming a whole lot of love for the past several centuries! I may have been taken aback by discovering that there's a Persian love cake, however I wouldn't be surprised if Persian food in general were to be called a love cuisine! Much love goes into mastering the art of simmering stews into glorious deliciousness using fresh seasonal ingredients, putting just the right amount of salt, pepper and a few spices and steaming the rice to a fluffy perfection with a golden crunchy tahdig - crust. I can easily call salad shirazi a love salad, fesenjoon a love khoresh or zereshk polow a love polow and I think, we should call it a love menu!


In addition to my passion for Persian food, which is clearly evident in this very personal blog of mine, I have also developed a passion for Persian poetry over the years. Persian poetry is as fragrant as drops of rose water in the air, colorful as saffron threads and flavorful as cardamoms in their pods. That's what you get when an Iranian food blogger writes about Persian poetry! Among many of the poems that I grew up with there are a few that have made an everlasting impression on me and are my favorites. I am a firm believer that love is the power that connects and holds all the particles together in this world even in the darkest and most challenging times.


روزی که می گرفتند پیمان ز نسل آدم       عشق از میان ذرات در جست وجوی ما بود
~ غمام همدانی   
On the day of making a covenant with Adam's generation, "Love" among all other particles was looking for us.

My next favorite poem is a line from a tale in the book: منطق الطیر - The Conference of the Birds by Attar.  It is about an old woman who wanted to buy یوسف - Joseph when he was being sold to the highest bidder at a market in Egypt, having only a handful of yarns to offer. The old woman knowing that she couldn't afford Joseph replied to the merchant's ridicule:
لیک اینم بس که چه دشمن چه دوست       گوید این زن از خریداران اوست
This is enough for me that everyone, friend or foe, will say this woman was among his bidders.

The next poem or rather a line of a poem is by Hatef Esfahani known for his ghazals (ode) and tarji- band (recurrent verse) style of poetry. However, I would like to take the liberty to say that for me this poem stands alone by itself as the best of the best to describe the mood and the feeling of someone's love and devotion and it has to be read several times over and over to feel the rhythm and the beat embedded in the words. Perhaps, one day I'll come back to this post and write a translation for it but so far I am at a loss for words to capture the essence of it. Therefore, I'll leave it without the English translation. My sincere apologies.
تو کمان کشیده و در کمین که زنی به  تیرم و من غمین      همه ی غمم بود از همین که خدا نکرده خطا کنی 
~هاتف اصفهانی

I haven't written about my father as much as I have written about my mother. One reason could be that I didn't spend much time with him growing up or rather he didn't have much time to spend with us since he was always working so hard and was away from home. I was also long gone by the time he retired. I don't think I ever got a chance to know him completely and it's interesting that all I've learned about Baba's family history, childhood and upbringing was through my mother! Baba was a fairly quiet man who had suffered from many physical ailments throughout his life.
I clearly remember my last long distance phone conservation with Baba right before his passing. I had gotten the terrible news about my father's deteriorating condition. Devastated, I called home and asked to have a few words with him even though I was told he couldn't speak coherently. Still, I needed to hear Baba's voice. I asked my mother to place the phone next to his ear and I started to plead with him to say something, anything, that I just wanted to hear him. His last few words were: work on your heart and polish it into a jam-e jahan nama (a crystal globe that reflects the world). These were Baba's last words, a short message of a self-realized life lesson that spoke volumes and showed me the depth of his love for his child on his last breath and for that alone I am forever indebted to him.


For this recipe I had a couple of options, the first one was the chiffon cake with rose water icing and candied rose petals. The second option was a simple almond cake. I chose the second version simply  because it tastes more like the kind of sweets I grew up with, no-frills and downright delicious. I've tweaked the recipe a little bit. Please see my Pinterest link for more Persian Love Cake recipes.



Ingredients
Serves 8

3 cups almond meal
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup strained yogurt
2 tablespoons rosewater
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon dried rose petals (crushed) *optional

Method:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl combine almond meal, sugar, butter and salt. Mix thoroughly by hands.
  2. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9- inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Divide mixture in half and press half of the mixture evenly into the bottom of the greased pan.
  3. Beat the eggs lightly and add to the remaining almond meal sugar mixture. Add yogurt, lime zest, lime juice, cardamom and rose water and using a wooden spoon mix all ingredients together until well blended.  
  4. Pour the creamy mixture over the prepared base in the pan and using a small spatula smooth out the surface. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios, sliced almonds and rose petals on top or however you want to decorate. It's your love cake!
  5. Set the cake on the middle-rack of the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until center is set.
  6. Remove from oven and cool completely in the pan.
Transfer the Persian love cake onto a serving platter, slice and serve with a dollop of strained yogurt, some fresh sliced fruits and a hot cup of chai.

Enjoy! Happy Father's Day!
My Baba and I


46 comments:

  1. The cake looks delicious and I want to bake it however the ingredients list is out of order of preparation. Also, is there yogurt in the batter or just served with the finished cake?

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    1. There is yogurt in the batter. Also, I have rearranged the ingredients list.

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  2. Beyond lovely......thank you for sharing Azita joon!

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  3. doroud bar Azita khanum...I just discovered your blog a month ago when I was searching for a recipe for my favourite Persian dish, joojeh kabab...I'm not Persian, and neither is Farsi my mother tongue, but I really love everything Persian, and I have lots of Persian friends in my campus as well, hence my working knowledge of Farsi...
    I daresay that very recently, whenever you post a new recipe, I feel so happy because not only do you share recipes with the world, but also delightful snippets of your culture as well as beautiful memories of your homeland and childhood...in short, your blog is really appealing to me because it is so creative and full of zest and optimism...also, as a student of English literature, I believe we both share a similar passion for poetry as well, Hafez and Ferdowsi being my favourites (though I've only read the translations in English)...on top of that, I love cooking, too, which was what drew me to your blog in the first place
    I am particularly touched by this post because today is Father's Day, yet I am studying far away from home and therefore unable to celebrate this momentous day with my family...this recipe for cake-e-eshgh reminds me of another recipe from Sri Lanka, which is also called love cake, but made from ground cashews (from a cookbook on Eurasian cuisine)...indeed, like its Sri Lankan counterpart, the labour of love is evident in the ingredients and procedures of making cake-e-eshgh, thereby deeming it, in my opinion, the perfect tribute for a cherished loved one...I'm already planning to make this as some sort of belated Father's Day gift for my dad once I get home for the holidays...wish me luck!
    I do have a quick question, though: in case almond meal is unavailable, can I substitute it with blanched almonds, ground to a paste instead? If yes, how much of almonds do I need to yield the exact measurement as 3 cups of almond meal?
    I hope my question does not sound too ridiculous, since almond meal is probably unheard of in the little town I come from. Anyway thank you a million times for this wonderful awe-inspiring recipe!!!
    greetings and love from Malaysia

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    1. Gaby jan, doroud bar shoma! Thank you so much for your kind words, I really appreciate it. Yes, you can make your own fresh almond meal and you'll need about
      3 1/2 cups of blanched almonds. Thanks again.xx
      Best,
      Azita

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    2. Thank u ever so much for the tip, Azita khanum...can't wait to try this recipe!!! Wish me luck!!!

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    3. Gaby jaan, just wanted to say I enjoyed reading your post, beautiful perspective from a non Iranian, I also have a good friend names Gaby who enjoys Persian sweets....

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  4. When is the cup of yogurt added to the batter? I can't wait to try this! Your recipes are always fantastic.

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    1. A cup of strained yogurt should be added to the remainder of the mixture along with the eggs. Thank you!

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  5. One more question, when the sugars and butter are mixed with my hands (not with a spoon, correct?) what should the mixture look like when it is sufficiently mixed? Thank you, Kim

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    1. Kim, you work the mixture with your hands until coarse crumbs are formed.

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    2. Thank you, Azita. I love your blog. -Kim

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  6. Azita your story about dad is beautiful. My husband also didnt see his dad and couldnt go to his funeral and I didnt have opportunity to meet my father in law :( so I understand your sadness :(
    and about your beautiful cake , I made before "persian love cake" , oh yes, that one with rose petals but I'll make yours too as looks delicious :)
    Greetings from UK

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    1. Aleksandra, thank you very much!

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  7. Beautiful. I love your blog. It's my trusty go to for all things Persian. I love the ceremony of creating Persian food. I love the poetry. I love the colours and the scents. I love your blog. daste shoma dard nakone. x

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  8. I love this cake!
    What a lovely pic of you w your Dad. xo

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  9. Salaam,
    Thank you so much for this recipe. My husband's birthday is tomorrow and I was looking for a cake to bake for him. He is iranian and I am Lebanese so I think it will be a nice surprise for him. Just one question. Won't the almonds and pistachio burn in the oven?? Sorry if my question sounds like a rookie question .. it's because I am :P
    thanks!
    Reem

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  10. I am exploring Iranian food in Los Angeles, and stumbled on your site while researching doogh. I love the way you end each post with a photo of a flower - beautiful.

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  11. I am so glad that Huffingto Post posted one of your recipes, even though that particular link didn't work. I love your blog! My nineteen year old son plays soccer every Saturday night and has a ritual lately of going to a local Persian restaurant after his game. He's wants to start cooking Persian food for himself he loves it so much. I guess I was supposed to find your blog to help him get started, ha, ha.

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  12. Hi Azita Jaan. I also can't believe what an amazing cake this is ... another excellent work from Yaxley at Qom! Do you have another Persian food blog? I read a similar story on your other blog and saw the photo of the same cake on your other blog with a far better golden colour :) why did you bake it lighter for this blog post?

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    1. Thank you. This is the only food blog I have and I'm not sure what other food blog you are referring to.

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  13. Texts: excellent; pictures: fantastic; this last picture with baba: I am speechless. Every day I come and look at this picture for a long time. Life is worth living if there are things in the world such as this.

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  14. Thank you Hossein for your kind comment. I cherish this picture with my Baba.

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  15. اشپزی با عشقJuly 25, 2013 at 2:51 AM

    ازیتا خانم عزیز ،چه قدر خوشحالم که صفحه تون رو دوباره پیدا کردم .من شما رو گم کرده بودم.امیدوارم همیشه شاد و سلامت باشید.با اجازه تون کیک عشق شما رو در صفحه ی اشپزیم در فیس بوک به اشتراک گذاشتم.اسمش اشپزی باعشق هست

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  16. آشپزی باعشق عزیز، خوشحالم که بلاگم را پیدا کردید و ممنونم که برای اشتراک گذاشتن عکس این کیک درفیسبوک با من تماس گرفتید. هرجا هستید سالم و سربلند باشید. آزیتا

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  17. Shukran!! Awesome blog!!!

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  18. Really Nice blog... I discovered it by chance and I am really glad that I did. Nice pictures, really nice recipes. Thank you for a job well done.

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  19. Hello Azita!
    Where might I find the dried rose petals? In an international food store? Also, do you think it would be OK to prepare this cake for tomorrow, or would it be best to make the day that it will be eaten? Thank you, this cake is beautiful!

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    1. Hi Christine, Thank you! You can find dried rose petals in Persian/Iranian or Middle Eastern markets. I think it's best to make it the day it's going to be served.

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  20. Hi I have made the chiffon person love cake before and stumbled upon your version by chance, i love the recipe and want to make it but I realized that this recipe doesn't call for baking soda/powder and wanted to make sure that it is correct? Thanks
    Sabeen

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    1. Sabeen, This recipe does not call for baking soda or baking powder.

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  21. salam

    I read your recipe a couple of months ago and I loved it and marked it as my favorite to make it later. I decided to bake it for this valentine day. I thought it should taste very good cause everything in it sounds so delicious , however, it didn't go that well ;)
    First, the base was burnt dark brown when I was waiting or the top to become golden brown (and of course, I couldn't see the bottom of than pan burning)The base taste somehow like melted sugar, like if the brown sugar is burnt.
    . Then the cake didnot have any rise which was obvious, no baking powder in the recipe. However, the cake itself was like a powder, didn't stick to each other and I couldn't cut a nice part out of it. Together, it looked nothing like your beautiful and delicious photos! :D and it was too sweet or my taste.

    I just wanted to share my experience with you. I love you blog and recipe and will keep trying ;)

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    1. Salam Ela, I'm sorry this recipe didn't work out for you.

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  22. Hi Azita,

    I've now made this cake a couple of times - once for my cousin's wedding and another for a good friend's birthday.

    I believe this has to be the most perfect, most delicious cake in the world. It is just fabulous, and - given the outcome - I'd have to say pretty easy to make too.

    My wife also loves it (though she made it first and it didn't come out quite so well), and feedback from friends/family has been universally lip-smackingly good.

    So, after three household attempts we can offer the following inputs:

    1) The measures you had given originally seem to be just about perfect. I have had to convert them to grams though, as us Brits are rubbish using cups for anything other than tea! (When my better half made her version she sort of guessed which probably contributed to it not rising well at all).
    So if anyone is interested, I think we have been using the following:
    Ground Almonds: 450g
    Granulated sugar: 200g
    Brown sugar (I used dark brown): 200g
    Butter 120g
    Yoghurt (I used Greek): 230ml
    almonds and pistachios: about 25g each.
    I've also used three medium eggs and that has still given good rise - maybe I should add another?
    Other ingredients as your list.

    2) Our fan oven cooks a lot hotter than normal oven. First time we used 180 degrees C (my wife's favourite oven temp) and we did get a lot of base and side burning. Next time I did at 160 degrees and that was better, but still a bit crisp on the sides (had to do a little 'shaving'). Last time we reduced the temperature to about 150 degrees. Also we followed your 'generous' buttering of the tin this last time as opposed to our earlier 'light' attempts. All good :)

    3) I accidentally left out the salt last time, which probably gave a slightly different taste, but it was still delicious!

    Thanks for the recipe (I have to make it again in a few weeks for my mother-in-law. That will be a good test!)
    Keep up the great blogging.

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    1. Hi Paul, thank you so much for taking the time to give such great feedback. I really appreciate your suggestions. Best wishes.

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  23. Hi Azita,

    I made this cake yesterday and it did not come out as the picture. I have followed the recipe to the T. My top part was not as white and creamy looking like yours. I don't know, may be I should add less of the almond meal to the top half. The main problem was that the two parts did not stick to each other and was falling apart while serving. Do you refrigerate it before serving or keep it refrigerated until you serve? I kept it at room temperature. I would love to hear from you as I loved the flavor and want to make it again this week. Thanks!

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    1. Hi, sorry to hear it din't work well for you. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing it from the pan. I don't usually refrigerate.

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  24. I am making it again tomorrow and see how it works. Giving it another try. I really liked the unique taste coming from the yogurt. I'll let you know.

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  25. Beautiful words from your father. God bless him and thank you for sharing both your story and the recipe.

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