Saffron Cake: with saffron and rosewater icing, sprinkled with crushed rose petals and pistachio nuts.

Persian ceramic art I wanted to make something different to contribute to the family Christmas table and I thought for a change I’ll make something for tea! That is ‘tea time’! Tea time is an important ritual in England and especially on Christmas day!

I made this gluten free but you can easily use a wheat flour cake recipe.

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Saffron cake ~ saffron and rosewater icing, sprinkled with crushed rose petals and pistachio nuts

 

You will need ~~

Rose water

Liquid saffron 

Icing sugar

Rose petals

Pistachio nuts

Vanilla essence.

~Make your sponge as you usually would but add two teaspoons of liquid saffron for a rich yellow colour and 1 teaspoon of vanilla for taste.  You could opt to add rosewater as a substitute for vanilla but I think it might be too much if you use it for the icing too. I used two medium eggs in the sponge recipe but you may prefer to add a teaspoon of flour to thicken the mixture up again.

~Remove the sponge from the oven, set to the side and leave to cool.

~Take a bowl and add a tablespoon at a time of icing sugar. Add a teaspoon of liquid saffron and a teaspoon of rosewater initially and just keep adding until you have enough colour and taste to suit you! There is no right or wrong here, its completely personal taste. Pour over the cake.

~ Roughly crush the pistachio nuts and sprinkle over the sponge. Finally sprinkle crushed rose petals over the iced sponge and there you have it!

 

saffron cake top view
saffron cake top view

 

 

 

Nooshi joonet

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Rose Water or Golab .

The process of extracting oil from Damask rose petals was first practiced in Iran mainly for its perfume and then from rose petal oil came rose-water or golab. Both rose petal oil and rose-water  are now used the world over for cooking, beauty preparations and for the relief of medical conditions .

Rose water or golab has a very distinctive smell and flavour is used extensively in Persian deserts, such as ‘shir berenge’  or rice pudding,   in jams and ice creams such as bastani ba faloodeh ( my personal favourite) , pastries  such as ‘ baamiah’  and ‘halva’ and in cookies such as ‘naan berenji ‘ the list is endless.

Rose water also has symbolic meanings within Iranian traditions and culture. It represents cleansing and as such is often placed on the ‘haft sein’  table at new year or Naw rooz ( a table containing 7 traditional items beginning with the letter S). The Rose water is  for collection all sickness be it in mind, thought, deed, or in the physical body and/or it’s sprinkled into the air. Rose water is symbolistic within the Zoroastrian religion and in ancient Iran newly arrived guests are greeted with sweets made with rose-water and sprinkled with rose-water as they entered the house. Some Zoroastrians still keep a ‘golabaz’, a traditionally shaped vase with rose-water in it and greet their guests in the traditional ways.  I also have memories of using rose-water to lightly cleanse and freshen up furniture and draperies before receiving guests and especially at Norooz. In Avestan, the language of the Persian prophet Zoroaster, “rose” is varəda.

Originally rose-water was used for cosmetic purposes, as a scent or dropped in bath water and as the cosmetics market  expanded so did the demand for rose oil.  Today it remains one of the leading base scents within the perfume industry and it’s used  for many other beauty products including creams and astringents.

Spraying rose-water on the face is thought to be good for anxiety and to strengthen the immune system and bathing in it is said to relieve rheumatism and aching joints. Drinking rose petal tea is reported as helpful for those with renal problems, coughs,colds and general health complaints. Extensively used in aromatherapy where it has claimed the grand title of the ‘queen’ of the botanical world rose-water is used to alleviate general  malaise, depression, eczema, frigidity, mature skin, menopause and stress

Dried Rose petals or Gol Mohamadi

Dried rose petals are used extensively across Persian cuisine for taste and decoration. You can buy this already prepared from an Iranian grocery store. Be sure to keep them in an air tight container in a cool dark cupboard or the colour will fade. Rose petals are used for sweet dishes mainly such as Ice cream, jams, sweet pastries and as a cordial. Ground they can used to decorate rice for example and it is an ingredient of advieh used in preparation of meat dishes.