The delicate perfume of rosewater mingled with the scent of freshly roasted pistachios and spicy cardamom is one of my favourite aromas. A combination that hints at exotic lands and fairytales, yet seems so familiar and comforting at the same time.
So when I discovered Katherine Sabbath’s Persian Love Cake, I was enamored both by the tale of a cake that symbolised a women’s love for a Persian prince, and a recipe that heralded these charming flavours. I’ve adapted the original recipe to showcase the warmth of roasted pistachios in the cake batter and opted for a lighter rose swiss meringue buttercream instead of cream cheese frosting, along with a little white chocolate drip and a mountain of turkish delight.
I hope you love this little number as much as I do, and if you have a chance, please also try out the original version which is equally as scrumptious!
(1) If this is your first time making a Layer Cake or you encounter any problems while making it, I would highly recommend you refer to my post on Layer Cake Basics.
(2) If this is your first time making Swiss Meringue Buttercream or you encounter any problems while making it, I would highly recommend you refer to my post on Swiss Meringue Buttercream Basics.
(3) I used a locally grown vanilla powder for this recipe, which is essentially finely crushed vanilla bean, but you can substitute the same amount of vanilla paste or double the quantity of vanilla essence.
Persian Love Cake
Makes a four layer 15cm (6”) cake
Serves 8-12 people
Spiced Caramel Pistachio Mud Cake
200g unsalted, shelled pistachios
200g good-quality white chocolate
160g (1 cup) brown sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
125ml (1/2 cup) water
3 tsp rosewater
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla powder
2 large eggs, at room temperature
150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cardamom
Rose Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 large egg whites
180g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, softened
6 tsp rosewater (or to taste)
120g white chocolate, melted and tinted with pink food colouring
150-200g turkish delight
Handful of roasted slivered pistachios
Edible flowers (fresh or dried rose petals, or any small pink edible flowers)
Spiced Caramel Pistachio Mud Cake
(1) Preheat oven to (180°C/160°C fan-forced) and line two 15cm (6”) round baking pans with greaseproof paper.
(2) Place pistachios on baking tray and roast in oven for approx. 5 minutes or until fragrant. Allow to cool, then process finely and set aside.
(3) Melt butter, white chocolate, brown sugar, milk, water, rosewater, golden syrup and vanilla powder in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth.
(4) Transfer mixture to freestanding electric mixer with paddle attachment and allow to cool for about 15-20 minutes.
(5) Beat in eggs one by one on medium speed, ensuring you scrape the bowl down with a spatula in between each addition until completely combined.
(6) Slowly add sifted flour, spices and ground pistachios while beating on low speed until just combined.
(7) Divide mixture evenly between each cake pan, weighing each pan to ensure equal volume between pans.
(8) Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
Rose Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(1) Place egg whites and caster sugar in heatproof bowl over small saucepan of simmering water, ensuring the base of the bowl does not touch the water.
(2) Allow the sugar to dissolve, whisking intermittently, heating to 65°C to ensure egg whites are pasteurised.
(3) Allow mixture to cool to room temperature, then whisk in free-standing mixer until white, glossy, soft meringue peaks form.
(4) Very slowly add small 1cm cubes of softened butter, then rosewater to taste, and continue whisking until buttercream is light and fluffy.
(1) Assembling this cake is easiest when the cake is slightly chilled, the buttercream is at room temperature and the white chocolate is melted and still fluid.
(2) Level each cake by slicing off the cake domes, then cut them in half lengthways to yield four cake layers in total. Use the base of one layer for the base of the cake, and the base of the other layer (turned upside down) for the top of the cake to avoid crumbs in the buttercream.
(3) Place the first layer on a round cake plate or turn-table and spread a thin layer of buttercream on the top, smoothing with a palate knife. Repeat frosting with buttercream between each cake layer until you have assembled all four layers.
(4) Cover the top and sides of the cake in a very thin layer of buttercream and smooth with a palate knife, allowing portions of the cake to remain visible, creating a semi-naked cake appearance. It can help to dip the palate knife in warm water then wipe clean to create a smoother “white-wash” appearance, although naked cakes generally have a rustic appeal so it does not need to be perfect.
(5) Place the cake in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes to allow the buttercream to firm up and set the cake layers together.
(6) Slowly pour the white chocolate on top of the cake, allowing a little to drip down the sides.
(7) Decorate the cake with turkish delight, slivered pistachios and edible flowers.
Credits and Sources
Cake recipe adapted from Katherine Sabbath’s Persian Love Cake
Frosting recipe adapted from Lomelino’s Cakes by Linda Lomelino
Wooden cake stand from American Heirloom
Scalloped dessert plates from Robert Gordon
hello, i’m just wondering if you mean for us to make a powder of the pistachios like a “meal” or just crushed/blitzed into teeny bits like a bag of crushed nuts. i would like to make this over the coming weekend for my mothers 50th. also do you think almonds could work in place if i end up making this a 2nd time? i once had a love cake using almonds and it was also very nice. thank you if you could reply when you get a chance. i love your website! 😊
Thanks for your comment and glad to hear you like my blog and are interested in making this recipe! I would recommend processing the pistachios finely to a meal, although you are welcome to keep a few here and there slightly larger for a bit more of a crunch if preferred. This recipe has been adapted from a Katherine Sabbath recipe which actually uses almond meal as it’s base, so you can definitely substitute almonds for pistachios (either with the same quantity of almond meal, or roast almonds yourself and then finely process them). Good luck baking and happy birthday to your Mum!
Kind regards, Salma
Beautiful cake! How long does this cake stay fresh in room temp?
Hi Zara, thanks for your comments. The cake will taste best consumed at room temperature within 24 hrs. If the weather is quite hot, you may notice that the Turkish delights pieces and edible flowers on top of the cake may melt or wilt respectively. In cooler weather and with good quality produce, they should maintain their appearance across the course of the day. The cake itself can be refrigerated if required and consumed over 2-3 days, but will not taste as moist and fresh as the first day. Hope this help and happy baking 😊
I have just discovered you – where have you been all of my life??!!!
I have been looking for a really good Persian Love Cake for such a long time. I would love to make yours, but I only have 8 inch cake tins. How could I adapt this recipe?
Thanks for your query and I’m glad you stumbled upon my blog! I love the combination of rosewater, pistachio and spices in this recipe and hope you enjoy it as much as I do. To convert from the 6″ size to an 8″ size cake, I would recommend doubling the entire recipe (cake, frosting, drip and decorations), and then split each cake to yield a four layer 8″ cake. You may also wish to bake the cakes a bit longer given they will be larger, approximately 10 minutes, but make sure they don’t burn and use a cake tester to assist checking whether or not they are done. Hope this helps and happy baking!
Hey I have a question! When you roast the pistachios, do you roast them with the shells still on?
Also, I prefer to work in grams even for eggs for total precision, do you have a suggested weight for the egg whites in the SMBC?
Thank you again, I recently made your choc honeycomb cake and it was the best chocolate cake recipe I’ve ever tried, the mix of almond meal & flour made it incredibly deep & rich, in flavour and texture. So I’m back again for another of your recipes! xx
Thanks so much for your kind words regarding my recipes, I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying my blog for your baking endeavours! I recall you mentioned such lovely feedback on my Chocolate Golden Honeycomb Cake, it is always such a pleasure to hear from bakers like yourself that have loved using my recipes.
To save time, I often purchase raw, unsalted pistachios that have already been shelled. If you prefer using unshelled pistachios, you can either roast them with or without the shell, although I find it easier when they are shelled so you can be guided by both scent and colour as to when they are perfectly roasted. If using unshelled pistachios to begin with, also note you will require a slightly larger quantity than stated in the recipe (of 200g shelled pistachios), so just remember to re-weigh them after shelling.
2) Eggs for SMBC
I am delighted to hear you work in grams for your baking. I personally also find it much easier to ensure consistency across recipes, so I’m glad you appreciate having the precise measurements. Regarding the egg whites in particular – that is an excellent question that I have overlooked until now, and may need to start incorporating into future recipes. I usually purchase large eggs which are generally minimum 600g-660g per dozen in Australia, equating to an average 50-55g per whole egg with shell, and approximately 32-35g per egg white.
Thanks again and happy baking!
Hi Salma, gorgeous blog and I’m an avid fan over on Instagram (@sweetatelierbysarah). Could you clarify what you mean by vanilla powder? Is this vanilla sugar powder?
Thanks so much for your ongoing support, I really appreciate it! In regards to your query, I created this recipe during a time when I happened to source a locally produced vanilla bean powder, which was essentially vanilla bean blitzed into a powder. This can be difficult to find, and so I would recommend substituting it with a vanilla bean paste or essence. Happy baking!