Sabrina Ghayour has become something of a poster girl for Persian food; following a career in marketing and events for restaurants, the Iranian born cook launched her supper club in 2011, which was an instant hit. Since then she has worked as a private chef and taught Persian cookery and along the way has picked up plenty of high praise from the likes of Raymond Blanc, Bruno Loubet and Gizzi Erskine. Her debut book is a gorgeously produced ode to richly spiced, exotic food from the Middle East and beyond. Yet despite the occasionally rarified sounding ingredients (Za’atar, Sumac, pomegranate molasses, Persian kashk – which actually aren’t so exotic as most are readily available at Waitrose et al) this book is immensely easy to cook from and packed with recipes for easy suppers such as the rich and delicious roasted squash with pistachio, feta, pesto and pomegranate or a deeply aromatic citrus spiced salmon which we tried out alongside a Turkish white bean salad (which, were we not so greedy, could easily have been a meal in itself) and a refreshing tomato Shirazi salad. Ghayour is not a baker – and perhaps that is why her moreish spiced carrot, pistachio and almond cake is so blissfully easy. It takes maybe 15 minutes to make and an hour to bake. The recipe is below.
Spiced Carrot, Pistachio & Almond Cake with Rosewater Cream from Persiana
I am not the most natural of bakers, so I work hard to perfect fool-proof, crowd-pleasing recipes that work well with my style of cooking. Iran has a huge nut-producing trade and pistachios are the king of Persian nuts. I first made this cake when I started doing supper clubs – because we don’t really have puddings in Iran, I knew my diners would expect a proper dessert, and so this cake was born… and the rest (as they say) is history.
3 large free-range eggs
200g (7oz) caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g (7oz) ground almonds
100g (3 ½ oz) desiccated coconut
2 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
150g (5 ½ oz) unsalted butter, melted
2 large carrots, coarsely grated
100g (3 ½ oz) shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
icing sugar, for dusting
For the Rosewater Cream
300ml (1/2 pint) double cream
2–3 tbsp rosewater
3–4 tbsp icing sugar
a few chopped pistachio nuts
Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas mark 3. Line a 23cm (9in) springform cake tin with enough nonstick baking paper to cover the base and sides. You won’t need to grease the tin or the paper, as the oils from the nuts and butter in the batter prevent the cake from sticking to the paper.
Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract together in a mixing bowl. Add the ground almonds, coconut and cinnamon and stir, then add the melted butter and give the ingredients a thorough mix. Add the grated carrots and pistachios and mix again until the ingredients are evenly blended, then gently pour or spoon the batter into your prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour, or until it feels firm to touch and a crust forms on top. Check the cake at 40 minutes to ensure it is cooking evenly. Once cooked, allow to cool in the tin, overnight if you can wait; the cake is much moister once cooled and tastes better as a result.
To make the rosewater cream: whip the double cream along with the rosewater and icing sugar, either by hand or using an electric hand whisk, until the cream is thick and unctuous. Dollop a generous spoonful on the side of a slice of the cake and dust the cake and cream lightly with icing sugar. Top with some chopped pistachios.
I simply keep this cake on a plate covered with clingfilm and find it can be kept like this for up to 1 week.