Flower Water – SF

Posted on February 21, 2011


Sometime things get stuck in your head–a song on the radio, a phrase from a movie, a pair of shoes you saw online, on sale, but didn’t buy because, let’s be honest, who really needs leopard wedges?

For about two weeks straight, the word “epic” got stuck in my daily vernacular.  Man, that was an epic sandwich.  I could really use an epic glass of water.  I’m gonna go epic all over the meter maid for writing me another parking ticket.

Ok, that didn’t happen.

Sometimes food also gets stuck.  Not between my teeth (ha), but in my head.  Lately, I can’t stop thinking about this, this and this.  But mostly, I’ve been dreaming about this Persian love cake.

This pretty-in-pink stunner is the sultan of layer cakes.  The rich, airy chiffon cake is covered with aromatic whipped cream and roses.  It’s a destination vacation in cake form.  And not your typical romantic getaway.  This is a spa retreat in a tropical locale that can only be reached by helicopter à la James Bond.

[Insert deep sigh]

Can you picture it?  Yeah, so can I.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a cake gets stuck in your head.  1 overactive imagination + 1 overactive sweet tooth = bakescapade!

Are you ready? Let’s get stuck together.  Me, you, James Bond, Dr. No, the whole gang.  While most of us are holed up in three feet of snow or monsoon-like storms (SF, please chill out with the hail and wind), we’re about to embark an exotic journey… to our kitchens.

Persian Love Cupcakes

Adapted from Epicurious.com.  Makes about 16 cupcakes or one 8-inch round layer cake

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  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 14 tablespoons of fine white sugar, divided into two groups (7 tablespoons each)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 3 table spoons of rosewater
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds OR 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom


  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream (for simmering saffron)
  • 1 ¾ cup of chilled heavy whipped cream
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoon rose water and/or 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
  • food coloring (optional)

Optional garnishes: Candied rose petals (either store-bought or handmade), crushed, unsalted pistachios

For cake:
1. Preheat oven to 325°F.   Take out eggs and bring them to room temperature.

2. If making a cake, butter and flour two 8-inch-diameter cake pans. If making cupcakes, place paper cupcake liners in a muffin pan.

3. Sift flour, 7 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.

4. Whisk yolks and next 6 ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.

5. Add yolk mixture to dry ingredients; whisk until smooth.

6. In a clean, non-aluminum bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. (Before starting, I swabbed the whisk and bowl with vinegar to make sure there was no oil or water mixing in with the whites.  To get great peaks, it helps to have your egg whites at room temperature, and if possible, not super fresh.  A pinch of salt and cream of tarter also helps).

7. Gradually add 7 tablespoons sugar; beat until whites resemble thick marshmallow fluff.

8. Fold whites into batter in 3 additions (be sure not to over mix, you want the batter to be light and fluffy).

9. Divide batter between the cupcake liners or prepared pans. Bake until cakes are golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 17-25 minutes.

10. Cool on racks for 15 minutes. If making a cake, turn out onto racks and cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap and store at room temperature.)

For frosting: I made two types of frosting–a pink one with rose water and a purple one with pomegranate molasses.  I just divided the cream in half and added the flavorings/colorings respectively.

1. Combine ¾ cup cream and saffron in small saucepan and bring to simmer.

2. Remove from heat; let steep 20 minutes. Chill until cold.

3. If making two types of frosting, split the remaining 1 ¾ cups of cream and 2/3 cup of sugar into two large bowls.  In one bowl, you will use the rose water and in the second bowl, the pomegranate molasses.  Or you could go really crazy and use both in one bowl.  Regardless, beat cream, powdered sugar, and rose water and/or pomegranate molasses (and food coloring, if desired) until soft peaks form.  Strain in saffron cream. Beat until peaks form.

4. Frost cupcakes using a pastry bag or just a plain spoon and knife.   If frosting a cake, follow regular layer cake frosting instructions.

Storage: Should be refrigerated.  If using garnishes (pistachios and candied rose petals), save for right before serving, as they tend to become soft in the refrigerator and lose their flavor and crispness.