Sweet, Snacks

Persian Love Cakes

I always make these in February, as a bit of a nod to Valentine's Day. Although they're not heart shaped, they're most certainly made with love! But they're delicious eaten at any occasion; on a summer’s afternoon with a refreshing glass of rosé or mint tea, or served warm with a dollop of crème fraîche or yogurt as a dinner-party dessert.

However you choose to eat them, these cakes are sweet, sticky, and fragrant with rose and cardamom. The pomegranate seeds give them a little burst of fresh acidity to help balance the sweetness, which I love.

I like to make little rectangle cakes, or individual muffins. You could also bake the batter in a round tin to make a large cake and serve it in traditional slices, if you prefer – although the baking time is a little bit longer.

SERVES:
8-16

Ingredients

Dry ingredients

250g ground almonds

120g demerara sugar

120g soft brown sugar

80g plain /buckwheat/GF blend flour

80g cold vegan butter, cubed

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp nutmeg, grated

½ tsp sea salt

100g pomegranate seeds

Wet ingredients

150g plant-based Greek-style or coconut yogurt

1 tbsp lemon juice

1-3 tsp rose water

1 tsp almond extract

For the glaze

1-2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

150g icing sugar, sieved

1-2 tsp rose water

2 tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4. Lightly grease a deep baking tray, a 12-16 hole muffin tin, or a 20cm cake tin, depending on the shape of the cake(s) you'd like to make.
  2. Add all the dry ingredients, apart from the pomegranate seeds, to a food processor. Pulse until it looks like fine breadcrumbs, and empty into a large bowl.
  3. Combine the wet ingredients in a second bowl, tasting the rose water before adding. It can vary in strength, so use more or less, depending how strong it is.
  4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Spoon the batter into your chosen tin(s) and finish with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes – or 40 minutes if you're making one large cake. When the cake(s) are ready, they'll look a bit uncooked, and will sink a little as they cool. Once cooked, remove from the oven and set aside.
  6. While your cake(s) are baking, make your glaze. Place the pomegranate seeds in a sieve, and use the back of a spoon to squeeze them and release their juices into a bowl.
  7. Add the icing sugar and rose water (adjusting how much you use depending on its strength) to a medium bowl, then slowly add the pomegranate juice until you get an icing that thickly coats the back of a spoon. You don't want it to be too runny.
  8. Remove the cake(s) carefully from their moulds, drizzle with the glaze, and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios – they can be served warm or at room temperature.
  9. These cakes taste better over time, so they're ideal for making ahead to eat the next day. They'll keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

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