My favorite aunt and uncle were in town last weekend and I was hell-bent on making a batch of saffron nazook for them. Somehow I ended up with extra filling and I wasn’t about to waste a smidge of precious saffron. So I tossed it into the mixing bowl and ended up with Persian Tea Cake. This is a delicious concoction with hints of saffron and cardamom topped with rosewater icing, crushed pistachios and crowned with a fresh rose from our garden. Perhaps the most unexpected ingredient is the pinch of fragrant Earl Grey tea. There couldn’t be a more beautiful way to welcome Spring and Nowruz, the Persian New Year.
The first day of Spring marks the Persian New Year called Nowruz in Farsi. This time of year always brings back happy memories from my childhood in Iran as I set up my Haft Seen table and make some classic confections like rose milk pudding to celebrate. Dainty little pistachio cakes inspired this moist and fragrant Persian Tea Cake. It’s a snap to bake and have ready to welcome guests coming to join the festivities.
Persian Tea Cake
Prep: 10 mins
1 tsp dried Earl Grey tea leaves
1 tsp saffron
2 free-range eggs @ room temp
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp rosewater
1/3 cup water
3 drops red food coloring
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup ground pistachios
fresh or dried organic roses
Remove eggs and 3/4 yogurt from the fridge. Set out to warm to room temp.
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Grind tea leaves and saffron using a clean coffee grinder or mortar & pestle.
Add both to butter and melt gently in a small saucepan. Set aside.
Beat eggs and sugar will fluffy, ~3 mins.
Add yogurt and butter mixture.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt over the bowl and mix just until incorporate.
Pour into prepared pan and transfer to hot oven.
Bake 45 mins, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let the cake rest in the pan for 10 mins before turning onto a metal rack to finish cooling.
Mix rosewater, water, food coloring.
Add to powdered sugar and mix until a thick paste forms.
Mound over the top of the bundt cake.
Sprinkle ground pistachios and decorate with fresh or dried organic roses.
My dad’s mom, Vilik Mama often took me to lunch parties. This one time, a bunch of us kids went out to play in the host’s backyard. While the ladies enjoyed coffee inside, we were in the lovely rose garden, hanging around an elephant bush. Then, one of us had the genius idea of disrobing the branches, yanking the thick juicy leaves off and stomping them into the ground. Before long, the concrete path was stained with hundreds of squishy wet spots.
Oddly, I was never reprimanded for this appalling behavior and, many years later, the lady of the house, Khanoom Sheysi came to visit my grandparents in the US. She insisted on seeing me. I was far too ashamed to show my face. A freshly baked Persian Tea Cake would probably have given me the courage to ask for her forgiveness.