French Friday’s with Dorie
Things have not always been so rosy between me and foods flavored with rose such as this Ispahan Loaf Cake. I couldn’t stand them. Rose flavored foods became unavoidable for me however after I married into a rather large Persian family that seems to have brought a lot of rosewater with them from Iran. My family has a legendary Persian cook in the form of my mother-in-law. You will know her by the menacing bottle of rose water she keeps in her household pantry. Rose became my destiny as I was called on to sample all manner of expertly prepared Persian dishes flavored deftly with rose; everything from rice, braised dishes, spiced nuts, creamy desserts and baked pastries — even ‘bastani” which is a favorite ice cream flavor.
As a Westerner I was amply familiar with rose oil, of course. The fragrant rose flower’s oil has been used as a luxury scent in perfumes and cosmetics by all cultures since it first production in ancient Persia a millennia or so years ago. The byproduct of creating this oil is rose water. When you make the oil by distilling fresh rose petals you necessarily create a ton of rose water as a byproduct.
I gather the ancient Persians had to find some sort of use for it seeing as it was so abundant, right? Todayit is the staple food ingredient nearly synonymous with Persian culture.
To my sensibilities, however, it reminded me of my grandmother’s powder room. Blech. I would sample it politely but never indulged it too much.
I wasn’t going to make this cake named for the most famous of the Persian roses when it came up in the French Friday’s with Dorie group rotation until I realized it would make a perfect dessert to take to one of my mother-in-laws storied feasts. If you can’t beat them, join them. Right?
But while making it something remarkable happened: I realized I didn’t hate it so much. I’m not saying I loved it, I just didn’t hate it so much. OK. Maybe I even kind of liked it. It intrigues me now. And now that I have a menacing bottle of rose syrup of my very own (and extract and rose water) I will feel I should work at finding new uses for it to share with expanded family. Cocktails anyone?
The power of love indeed!
Ispahan Loaf Cake
The recipe as written makes a cake that didn’t really impart much rose taste despite the inclusion of both rose extract and rose syrup. Even skeptical taste buds like my own ached over its noticeable absence. Instead of feeling relief I found I was willingly looking for ways to amp up the flavor. I doubled the extract called for and when even that wasn’t enough I adding a heavily flavored the glaze to get more flavoring on the cake.
This way, I figured, if you want a more subtle tasting morsel you could eat around the glaze but by including the glaze on your fork you could have a rosey mouthful to transport you back to Persia. The need for this leads me to believe that all rose flavorings are not created equal. When and if you make this please tread carefully and mix in the flavoring slowly until you get to your desired tolerance…I mean taste level. A small amount of rose will enhance the raspberries quite elegantly.
Too much extract and you will find yourself transported to my grandmother’s powder room. Blech.
|It was all I could do not to throw rose petals around this photo shoot.|