Persian Love Cake with Honey Rose Cardamom Cream + Pomegranate


Our wedding is just days away. I've found myself thinking a lot about family, and all of the roots that are coming together with our marriage.  

After suddenly finding out an abundance of information involving my late father, coincidentally timed right before our wedding (I have a sister and brothers I never knew about! but more about that another time) I started poking around the family history that I do know about, my mother's. My great grandmother and great grandfather immigrated from Malta in 1920. Most of our family cooking traditions that have been kept alive throughout my life revolve around our Maltese heritage. I've always been particularly fascinated by the arabic and mediterranean cultural fusion of the country, even more so in regards to cooking. All the history has slowly become more and more important to me, as I make my way through old photographs and hear stories about the past. I found that my Great Great Grandmother had a Persian name, and with that fresh on my mind it made this particular cake, and the love story attached to it stand out to me even more. Doing my own twist on a beautiful cake, with a fairytale-esque love story behind it seemed all too fitting this close to our wedding. 

It still blows my mind that we've arrived here. Seven years after meeting we are making this whole love-fest official, holding hands and jumping into the unknown abyss together. The hopeless romantic in me keeps thinking back to when I decided he was the one. Years before we got together I knew, and the waiting game that ensued between the two of us makes this time in our lives even more special. When it all aligned, that moment was cosmic, and it's a feeling I will never forget. With two years spent apart in two different cities, and three spent together building a home here, I get all sorts of emotional when I think about how lucky I am. Even without a cake containing magical love powers our paths found a way to intertwine, and for that I am grateful.

I made this cake with Robert in mind. He loves cardamom, and middle eastern flavors in general. Honey, rose and cardamom cream gets spread between each layer, with a generous sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. The pomegranate adds a bit of tartness and acidity in a nice way. You'll find that Persian Love Cake is usually served with rose petals and pistachios, but I opted to top this beauty with an autumnal toned edible flower mixture and extra pomegranate seeds. I've noticed that edible flowers can be a bit easier to track down than organic roses. I've had good luck finding them at Whole Foods. It's also hard to argue with a whipped cream frosting here, which is one of the main reasons I think this cake is inevitably so enticing. The rose and cardamom flavors in the cake are enhanced by the same flavors mirrored in the cream, and sweetened with honey. 

My brother will be officiating our ceremony this Sunday, and as I read over the beautiful words he put together, it tugged at my heartstrings when I read this quote. The author Robert A. Heinlein said “Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to our own,” and with that, we will soon be off to wed.

Cheers, lovebirds. 

**A note about the cake shown, it's a bit of a choose your own adventure when it comes to this recipe. I ended up doubling the recipe shown to make a 4 layer cake. Below you will find the amounts to make 2 layers, divided between two 8" or 9" cake pans. The layers are thin, and if you'd rather make a single cake, the time can be adjusted accordingly until the edges have browned and the cake is cooked through. 

Persian Love Cake with Cardamom Rose Cream
adapted from Bon Appétit

1 cup cake flour
14 tablespoons superfine sugar, divided in 7 tbs quantities
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 tablespoon rose water
5 1/2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds, removed from about 5 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Preheat oven to 325°. Prepare parchment paper to line the bottom of two 8 or 9" cake pans. Butter the pans, place parchment on the bottom and butter the parchment. Set aside until ready to use. In a large bowl sift together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and kosher salt.

Crack your egg yolks into one mixing bowl, your whites into another mixing bowl and set the whites aside. Whisk the egg yolks with rose water, water, and canola oil. Pour into the flour mixture, add cardamom seeds and grated lemon peel. Stir together until very smooth. Beat the bowl of egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the remaining 7 tbs of sugar, and beat until the whites thicken and resemble fluff. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the batter in three additions.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans, and bake for 25 minutes until the edges have browned and the cake is cooked through. 

Honey Rose Cardamom Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon rose water
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

for cake topping
about 1/4-1/2 cup pomegranate seeds used in between cake layers, plus more for topping
edible flowers

Using a stand or electric mixer, beat the cream with the powdered sugar. Add honey, rose water and ground cardamom and continue beating until peaks form. To assemble the cake, spread the frosting between the cake layers, on top, and all around the sides until smooth. Refrigerate at least one hour, up to 6 hours. Top with pomegranate seeds and edible flowers.