Get Baked: Sourdough Persian Love Cake

Recipe adapted from Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Deliciously Yours.

Greetings, starbeams! I hope you’ve gotten a good night’s rest and that every stranger you encounter on the street thinks kindly of you today. The world continues to be a dumpster fire, but I’m making the absolute most of it and would love to share some joy with you.

Check this out:

It’s called a “Persian Love Cake” and is a great way of using up any sourdough starter discard you may have. The flavor is sweet (due to the massive amounts of honey syrup), but also interesting and complex (due to the sourdough, cardamom and lemon). It’s delicious, and the cake itself is pretty gosh darn beautiful, too, if I do say so myself.



  • 135g strongly brewed rose tea
  • 340g mild honey
  • 40g fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)


  • 170g whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 115 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 200g Greek yogurt
  • 20g heavy whipping cream
  • 20g mild honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g sourdough starter, 100% hydration (meaning you’ve been feeding it half water/half flour)

If you don’t already have sourdough starter, here are some instructions on how to grow your own. Alternatively, Laura Wooley’s sourdough series on Mamoot DIY gives a very detailed account of each step.

Drizzle Icing

  • 170g icing sugar
  • 1 egg white at room temperature
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice


  • 50 g pistachios, toasted and chopped
  • Dried rose buds (sold as rose tea)
  • Fresh figs or other fruit

ingredients in front of a window with a plant on the sill


In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, cardamom, and salt.

In a separate large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with a handheld mixer until pale and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, yogurt, honey, and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the sourdough starter and beat until the batter is smooth.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones about a third at a time, being careful not to over mix. (Small lumps are okay.)

Spread the batter into a greased 9-inch cake pan and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until it begins to pull away from the pan. Remove from oven and let cool.

As your cake is cooling, brew your rose tea. I use dried, loose rose buds in a french press so that the flowers have room to expand. Honestly, though, it’s not going to matter much for this application because you’re mixing it with other stuff. So feel free to make tea however you usually do it.

When your tea is ready, measure out your honey into a saucepan over low heat and pour the tea in. Whisk until fully dissolved, then remove from heat and whisk in the lemon juice. Set aside to cool.

Go back to your cake and use a fork or toothpick to poke lots of tiny holes in the top of the cake. Pour the cooled syrup over the cake in 3 or 4 applications, allowing each to soak in before the next.

When you’re done applying the syrup, make the drizzle icing. Use hand mixer to beat together the icing sugar, egg white and lemon juice until you see soft peaks, about 5 to 7 minutes on medium/high.

Using a spatula, slather icing in a thick layer across the top of your cake. You want to be quick enough that the icing doesn’t set mid-way through, and quite generous in your application. Get the icing right up to the edge of your cake so that it starts dripping.

Once the top is covered, assess your cake. If enough icing has drizzled down the sides of the cake on its own, great! If not, use a teaspoon and drizzle manually. Obviously, more frosting = more drizzle, so adjust as needed.

Just before serving, decorate with pistachios, roses and (optional) fresh figs.

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Laura Mandanas

Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Boston. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair. Follow her: @LauraMWrites.

Laura has written 210 articles for us.


  1. Oh my gosh, that looks incredible! I can’t wait to try it out, thank you so much for sharing the recipe.

    • My personal suggestion is black tea or earl grey as it’s staple in a Persian households and parties. Now what alcohol to mix with, is up to you. One of the first things we offer when you come over is tea, which is almost always ready.

      • Hmm! Maybe like an Earl Grey bees knees situation with scattered pistachio nuts? I don’t know whether the nuts would be okay texture-wise. Only one way to find out!

        • A staple of deserts is pistachio ice cream, in both dairy and non-dairy flavors(non-diary is because many Jews don’t mix meat and dairy, because one has to wait something like 2 hours after having chicken to have dairy after red meat, another dietary staple).

        • “Only one way to find out”

          That is the foundation to good cooking everywhere. Only one way to find out.

  2. As a Persian(or Iranian depending on the situation) this checks out. It has two things we can’t live without, honey and pistachio. That and rose(ever look in a Persians cabinet you will always see rose water of some sort).

  3. I never know what the hell my body wants… so I just eat everything in sight. But now I’ve seen the light.

  4. The day you posted this I was imagining a rose cake – and this looks waaay better than my imagination. Thanks! Question from a sourdough nerd: at point is it best to use the sourdough to get the best flavour? when it’s fluffy and mild (a few hours after feeding)? or thin and sour (when you’ve forgotten about it for a while)?

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