This is one moist, light, fragrant cake! It’s slightly adapted from famous French pâtissier Pierre Hermé’s recipe, combining his signature Ispahan combo of fresh raspberries, rose and lychee with a simple beautifully-textured loaf cake. Mine is made with ground almonds and a glutenfree flour mix but standard plain flour can be used. The rose syrup is made with rose water and a simple sugar syrup to achieve a delicious balance where the rose is noticeable but not overpowering. Hurray! The Ispahan cake is a wonderful French-style teatime or picnic treat you’ll miss when it’s gone, looking back nostalgically with rosewater-tinted spectacles.
Yum yum. Let’s just make it… 😉
This creation is based on a combination of two versions of Hermé’s Ispahan cake recipe – one in his illustrated Pierre Hermé et moi children’s baking book and the other with no lychees in his beautiful Ispahan book. I kept the lychees but went with the adult book for the longer baking time at lower temperature because this usually results in extra moistness. And I used glutenfree flour.
If you can’t find the Monin rose syrup Hermé mentions then make your own using more readily-available rose water.
Homemade rose syrup. Slowly bring 35g sugar with 35g water to the boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Take off the heat and stir in 1 tsp pure food grade rose water then taste. If needed add another 1/2 tsp or so, to taste – it should be not too insipid but not too strong or soapy, unless you like eating soap of course.
- Butter and flour the loaf pan (about 26-28cm/10-11in long by 10cm/4in wide and 7cm/2.7in high or a similar size).
- Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F (fan oven) or 180°C/360°F (static oven).
- Weigh the ingredients.
Ingredients – all at room temperature
- 58 – 60g egg yolks, beaten (from 3 medium-large eggs)
- 60g beaten egg (1 medium-large egg)
- 115 – 118g egg whites (from 3 medium-large eggs)
- 162g/3/4 cup less1/2 tbsp softened unsalted butter, good quality French-style like le Président
- 170g/1 and 3/4 cup less 2 and 1/2 tsp ground almonds
- 110g/3/4 cup + 2 tbsp icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 25g/ml fresh full-fat milk
- 40g/ml rose syrup, Monin or homemade
- 37g/8 tsp caster sugar (superfine sugar) for the meringue
- 80g/1/2 cup + 2 and 1/2 tbsp glutenfree flour mix (I use Doves Farm glutenfree self raising) or plain all-purpose flour
- 1 extra optional tablespoon of milk if mixture’s stiff (or more)
- 125g/4.4oz fresh raspberries, preferably medium-smallish (40 raspberries)
- 1 can of lychees in light syrup (I used all of them except 4 or 5, it’s flexible)
Separate egg whites from yolks, placing whites in a big very clean bowl and yolks in a small bowl. Add the whole egg to the yolks and beat lightly with a fork.
Butter/yolk mixture in stand mixer bowl
- Whisk softened butter until creamy with standmixer or electric hand whisk.
- Whisk in the icing sugar and ground almonds 3 minutes or so until fluffy.
- Gradually whisk in the yolks and 1 egg then continue to whisk 1 – 2 minutes until fluffy.
- Whisk in the 25g of milk and rose syrup until fluffy.
- Whisk the whites (I used a hand whisk) until soft droopy peaks start to form.
- Gradually whisk in the caster sugar then whisk hard (at medium-high speed) until smooth and glossy with soft-stiff peaks drooping a little.
- With a rubber spatula gently fold 1/3 of the meringue (egg whites) and 1/3 of the flour into the butter/yolk mixture. Fold until almost combined.
- Repeat with another 1/3 each of the flour and meringue then repeat with the final 1/3 of each. Fold until almost combined. If the mixture seems very stiff or dense add 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk. Fold until just combined. Don’t overmix.
- Now assemble the cake in the mould…
Follow the printable illustrated recipe.
Hermé says to leave 2cm from the top in the loaf tin but it’s also fine with mixture almost up to the top as the cake doesn’t seem to rise much or overflow.
While baking only open the oven door after 1 hour and 10 or 20 minutes to check. The time needed depends on your oven, tin and mixture. The cake should be medium brown and a skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean.
Cool the cake 5 minutes in the tin then turn out to cool on a wire rack 2 hours (yes, 2 hours!!) before eating.
Decorate with rose petals if you like.
Eating and storing
This cake is even better a day or two later as flavours develop. Store in airtight tupperware in the fridge up to 4 or more days – it stays lovely and moist. It freezes really well; wrap slices tightly in reusable plastic film (or bag) or place in airtight tupperware then before eating defrost in the fridge overnight or at room temperature 3 or more hours.
It really is a cake de voyage!
I took frozen slices in a cooler bag on the plane from Barcelona to London. They arrived in mint condition and mum thoroughly enjoyed her slices for the next few days. Which illustrates why the French call them cakes de voyage. This Ispahan cake travels well and is great for picnics, packed lunches or just for a very civilised teatime at home. Lovely jubbly. 🙂
Bye for now dears and have a wonderfully fragrant and yummy week and weekend! Happy baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x