Say assalamu alaikum to the Iranian Pistachio-Rosewater Cake.
So, what is it? This light and extremely luxurious treat is a foam cake, meaning that it's leavening ability comes almost exclusively from whipped up egg whites. This also means this cake's texture is beyond amazing. If you look a bit deeper, you reach the real charm - lovely middle eastern spices that combine with the pistachios and rosewater to make something really special. The cake is topped with rosewater icing, adding a little sweet kick to this smooth dessert
When did they first pop up? The pistachio tree is native to the middle east and has been used for quite a long time. I'm talking 6760 BC. Pretty cool, huh? They were a favourite delicacy during the Queen of Sheba's reign, where it was commonplace for lovers to meet for secret a rendezvous under a special pistachio tree. Even today, Iran produces 190,000 tones of the little green nut. And they're still pretty romantic (chew on that, almond). The rosewater is also deeply steeped in Muslim culture. While the European bakeries were using wines and spirits to flavour their cakes, the Islamic countries turned to rosewater to keep everything halal. And that's a-okay with me. The rosewater certainly turns up the elegance in any baked good.
Is it worth my time: This recipe is delicious, but (to be completely honest), it was a bit of a headache. Foam cakes take a bit more time, and a few more bowls, then your regular run-of-the-mill cakes. It's a bit finicky in the oven as well - our oven is slightly uneven, and it made a huge difference in the overall product. You've just got to be careful with this guy. That said, if you're into rosewater and pistachio, and have some extra eggs hanging around, you need to try this. I truly believe it's the original love potion number nine.
Enough talk. I need a recipe. Only for you, mon chéri:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon rosewater
1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
6 eggs, separated
1 cup of pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Oil a 9-inch round cake pan. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cumin, and allspice in a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside.
2) In a larger bowl, cream the butter and sugar into light and creamy. Add the honey, rosewater, and lime juice and mix well. Blend in your egg yolks, adding them one at a time until everything is even. With a wooden spoon, slowly mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture, until fully incorporated.
3) In a large bowl, beat the egg whites (with a pinch of cream of tartar if needed) until they hold stiff peaks. Scoop in a bit of the whites into the thick batter and stir in order to lighten the batter a bit. With a spatula, slowly and carefully fold the whites into the batter so that the colour is all even. Fold in the pistachios right afterwards.
4) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until your cake tester comes out nice and clean. Sit out to cool, then remove it from the pan when it's able.
2 1/2 confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1 3/4 Tablespoons rosewater
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 cup pistachios, half finely chopped and half whole
1) Combine the confectioners sugar, milk, rosewater, and lime juice, and whisk well so that everything is nice and smooth. Add more milk or sugar until you get a nice thick - but spreadable - icing.
2) If you wish, take a 2-inch round cookie cutter and cut out the center of your cake. Spread the icing on so it covers the top and the sides of the cake. Let it drip into the middle hole, and sprinkle the whole pistachios in the center as well. Take the finely chopped pistachios and sprinkle all over the top. Wait for the icing to set, then serve to the ones you love.