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Persian Love Cake – Lemon and Rose

I’ve always been fascinated with Middle Eastern cooking, and over the years I’ve built up a repertoire of favourite recipes. At first I was guided by cooking luminaries such as Claudia Rosen – her orange almond cake is cafe legend the world over – and the highly knowledgeable Elizabeth David.

And latterly, like so many people with a passion for good food, I have lapped up everything the wonderful Yotam Ottlenghi has said and written about Middle Eastern cooking, particularly the cooking of Israel and Palestine, where he developed his unique take on flavour.

This recipe is loosely a Persian Love Cake – I got a lot of inspiration from Turkish cooking too, in particular the recipes of Sevtap Yuce. My cake features lemon, rosewater and almonds as the principal flavours.

This cake is quite big – it’s essentially a sharing, celebration cake. You could scale it down if you wanted, or make 2 smaller cakes from the mixture.

Ingredients

150g butter

330g caster sugar

zest of 1 1/2 lemon

6 large free-range eggs

300g plain flour

165g ground almonds *

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of sea salt

1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

300g Greek yoghurt

3 tablespoons rosewater

*If you like your almonds to be a little crunchy, instead of using ground almonds, try pulsing flaked or slivered almonds in a food processor until they are ground but still have a bit of texture.

Syrup

125g caster sugar

125g water

Juice of a lemon

1-2 tablespoons rosewater

To serve – any of these are great!

1-2 tablespoons whole pistachios

Cardamom pistachio sugar**

Edible dried rose petals

Crystallised rose petals

Glacé fruit as decoration

** Here in Australia I use Cardamom Pistachio Sugar made by Gewürzhaus. Hopefully there will be other brands available where you live.

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C, non fan forced. Carefully butter a 24cm springform cake tin.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing carefully after each addition to make sure the mixture doesn’t curdle. Add a dessertspoon of flour 3 times each time you’ve added 2 eggs. This will help stabilise the mixture and stop it curdling.

Sift the rest of the dry ingredients – it’s important to do this to give this rather dense cake some aeration.

Fold the sifted dry ingredients into the mixture.

Stir in the yoghurt and rosewater. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 – 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. If you’re worried about the cake browning too much, after half an hour or so, you can place a piece of foil over the top of the cake.

Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and cool for 5 minutes in the tin.

Remove the ring of springform tin, then remove the cake from its base.

Place on a serving plate.

For the syrup, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon juice, and bring to the boil, and cook for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add the rosewater. Cool the syrup to room temperature.

Pierce the cake all over with a skewer, and spoon the cool syrup over the hot cake. Leave at room temperature so that the syrup can soak into the cake.

Scatter any of the following over the syrupy cake – whole pistachios, cardamom pistachio sugar, edible dried rose petals, crystallised rose petals or glacé fruit.

Serve the cake at room temperature, with a dollop of thick cream or Greek yoghurt.

Strawberry and Watermelon Cake Reprise

 

Sydneysiders love this cake – the most Instagrammed cake in the world! It’s the famous Strawberry and WatermelonCake from the creative people at Black Star Pastry.

Below is the Black Star original.

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I blogged a beautiful version of the cake made by Doctor Rosemary a year or two back – see here for the post.

This week Doctor R was hosting a celebration for a visit from her ex pat family and a special new arrival! We were lucky enough to sample her 2018 take on The Cake. Same recipe –  with lots of luscious fruit, rose petals and pistachios for decoration.

It was outstanding! Doctor R’s version was fragrant, with different textures, and altogether more delicious than its famous predecessor.

This is the recipe, as written up in Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Ingredients
250 g seedless watermelon, thinly sliced
60 ml (¼ cup) rosewater
4 tbsp caster sugar
40 g almond meal
500 g strawberries, halved
10 seedless red grapes, halved
1 tbsp slivered pistachios
1 tbsp dried rose petals

Almond dacquoise
150 g almonds, coarsely chopped
150 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
5 free-range egg whites
135 gm caster sugar

Rose-scented cream
300 ml thickened cream
30 g caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater

Method

For almond dacquoise, preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Process almonds in a food processor until finely ground, then combine in a bowl with icing sugar. Whisk egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (3-4 minutes), then gradually add caster sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form (1-2 minutes). Gently fold through almond mixture, spread on a 30cm x 40cm oven tray lined with baking paper and bake until golden (10-15 minutes). Set aside to cool on tray, then cut in half lengthways.
Arrange watermelon slices in a single layer on a wire rack. Sprinkle with 20ml rosewater, then scatter with 2 tbsp sugar. Stand to macerate (30 minutes), then pat dry with absorbent paper.
Meanwhile, for rose-scented cream, whisk cream and sugar in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, gradually add rosewater and whisk until stiff peaks form (do not over-whisk).
Spread one-third of rose cream evenly over one half of dacquoise, scatter with half the almond meal, then top with watermelon, trimming to fill any gaps. Scatter over remaining almond meal, spread over half remaining cream. Top with remaining dacquoise, spread over remaining cream and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours).
Combine strawberries, remaining rosewater and remaining sugar in a bowl, toss to combine and set aside to macerate (15 minutes). Carefully arrange on top of cake, gently pushing into cream. Trim edges of cake, scatter over grapes, pistachios and petals, and serve.

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Tie Dye Marshmallows Again

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I’m mad on marshmallow making and I just had to include my latest efforts, a little more vibrant than the previous version. The recipe is the same – the basic Jamie Oliver recipe from his book Comfort Food, with the addition of different bright colours to the marshmallow, using the swirling technique with a skewer.

Here is the recipe from my previous post. I just upped the level of the colours and I flavoured this batch with vanilla and rosewater.

This is Jamie’s recipe adapted for tie dye colours.

Ingredients

50g cornflour

5g icing sugar

50g liquid glucose syrup

450g caster sugar

10 sheet gelatin

2 large free-range egg whites

1/2 tsp vanilla paste

A few drops each of different food colourings

Method

This is a precise recipe, so make sure you read through the method carefully before you start, get all your ingredients weighed out and get your equipment ready to go. Sift the cornflour and icing sugar into a bowl. Finely sift half the mixture over a deep baking tray (20cm x 30 cm) and set the other half aside in the sieve until later.

Mix the liquid glucose syrup and caster sugar together in a pan over a low heat with 250ml of cold water. Heat gently, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved and you have a clear syrup.

Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in a small pan with 125ml of water.

Once the sugar syrup is clear, turn up the heat, pop in a sugar thermometer and allow the syrup to boil vigorously (please don’t stir it). When it reaches 110ºC, place the gelatine pan over a medium heat and stir until dissolved.

Whisk the egg whites in a free-standing electric mixer until you have stiff peaks.

Once your syrup has reached 122ºC, very carefully and slowly pour it down the sides of the bowl of the moving mixer, then pour in the dissolved gelatine.

Add the vanilla paste and rosewater to the mixer bowl, then continue to whisk for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture has significantly increased in volume, but is thick and still pourable.

Have several bowls (one for each colour) ready, with a few drops of your chosen colours in each bowl. Once the marshmallow is whisked, pour into each of the bowls. Mix the colours through the marshmallow. You’ll need to work quickly, as the marshmallow will start to set.

Then pour each marshmallow mixture into the prepared tray. You can use your creativity here, in the way you place the colours. I used a skewer to swirl the colours together. You can smooth the top if you like, with a palette knife, but I like the rough effect. Sift over the remaining mixed cornflour and icing sugar and leave to set for two to three hours. Cut into squares and store in grease proof  paper in a tin. Keeps well for a few weeks.

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Tie Dye Marshmallows

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I love marshmallows, and when I discovered how simple they are to make, they have become part of my sweet treats repertoire. They’re dead easy to make, the only tricky bits are heating the sugar, glucose and water to the right temperature, and then pouring the hot mixture onto the beaten egg whites.

I recently found an image on Pinterest of bright multi-coloured tie dye marshmallows. I liked the concept, but went for a softer coloured version. My go-to recipe for marshmallows is Jamie Oliver’s great recipe from his book Comfort Food.

I was keen to get a whole lot of colours going, so opted for a basic vanilla flavour using vanilla paste. In my previous post, see here, I made lovely rosewater flavoured pink marshmallows. My problem was, with so many colours, what flavour to choose? So vanilla seemed the best choice.

This is Jamie’s recipe adapted for tie dye colours.

Ingredients

50g cornflour

5g icing sugar

50g liquid glucose syrup

450g caster sugar

10 sheet gelatin

2 large free-range egg whites

1 tsp vanilla paste

A few drops each of different food colourings

Method

This is a precise recipe, so make sure you read through the method carefully before you start, get all your ingredients weighed out and get your equipment ready to go. Sift the cornflour and icing sugar into a bowl. Finely sift half the mixture over a deep baking tray (20cm x 30 cm) and set the other half aside in the sieve until later.

Mix the liquid glucose syrup and caster sugar together in a pan over a low heat with 250ml of cold water. Heat gently, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved and you have a clear syrup.

Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in a small pan with 125ml of water.

Once the sugar syrup is clear, turn up the heat, pop in a sugar thermometer and allow the syrup to boil vigorously (please don’t stir it). When it reaches 110ºC, place the gelatine pan over a medium heat and stir until dissolved.

Whisk the egg whites in a free-standing electric mixer until you have stiff peaks.

Once your syrup has reached 122ºC, very carefully and slowly pour it down the sides of the bowl of the moving mixer, then pour in the dissolved gelatine.

Add the vanilla paste to the mixer bowl, then continue to whisk for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture has significantly increased in volume, but is thick and still pourable.

Have several bowls (one for each colour) ready, with a few drops of your chosen colours in each bowl. Once the marshmallow is whisked, pour into each of the bowls. Mix the colours through the marshmallow. You’ll need to work quickly, as the marshmallow will start to set.

Then pour each marshmallow mixture into the prepared tray. You can use your creativity here, in the way you place the colours. I used a skewer to swirl the colours together. You can smooth the top if you like, with a palette knife, but I like the rough effect. Sift over the remaining mixed cornflour and icing sugar and leave to set for two to three hours. Cut into squares and store in grease proof  paper in a tin. Keeps well for a week or two or three!

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