Persian Saffron Cake

Persian Saffron Cake with Dark Rum, Coconut and Almond

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Yellow cake for Springtime! Persian food is elegant and fragrant yet subtle and delicate. I was given some beautiful saffron for my birthday so I just had to try it out – Persian style! I looked up a load of recipes and stew or rice just wouldn’t do my birthday present justice so of course it had to be a cake.

The most famous Persian cake recipe has to be the Persian Love Cake. The legend tells of a French woman who fell in love with an Iranian prince. She made a cake to convey her love but did not know of his allergy to one of the spices and her prince died on the spot after only a few bites. Oops! I can safely say my cake didn’t kill.

Many Persian cakes contain yoghurt but the coconut milk added a lovely richness and tropical flavour. Topped with almonds, citrus and plenty of rich, dark rum, this cake is so fragrant and warming yet light and springy! For that full-on yellow colour aim to soak the saffron for the whole day before baking but doing it an hour will do too. If you don’t have dark rum, you could use whisky, white rum etc.

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Ingredients

  • 0.3g saffron (a pinch)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp dark rum
  • 200 g butter
  • 150ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 240g self-raising flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 270 g soft brown sugar

For the icing:

  • 2 tbsp coconut milk + 4 tbsp icing sugar
  • Zest of half a lime
  • Almond flakes

Method

I was strapped for time so I poured the rum into the jar with the saffron and microwaved, lid off, for 30 seconds on low to help it steep. Ideally, leave the mixture at room temp to soak overnight for a wonderful colour.

Preheat your oven to 175°C/155°C fan/350°F. Grease and flour a medium sized decorative cake tin or bundt pan and set aside.

Melt the butter fully in a saucepan over a low heat. Shake the coconut milk well then add in with the saffron mixture. Stir well and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes by hand). Slowly pour in the butter-coconut mixture and stir and stir just a little before adding the flour and pinch of salt. Fold very gently to create a smooth batter.

Pour batter into the tin and bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester or sharp knife comes out clean. Remove from the oven, then leave to cool for a few minutes before inverting it onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, mix up the icing, pour artistically on top and sprinkle with flaked almonds, pistachios, rose petals, lime zest etc. Anything Persian and beautiful!

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