Rose flavoured chewy sweets dipped in dark chocolate and decorated with a little white chocolate. The dark chocolate perfectly balances the sweetness of the Turkish …
Fluffy and warmly spiced pancakes – a delightful breakfast option during the winter and a great way to use pumpkins up post Halloween.
What is Kooie Kaka?
These delicious pancakes are inspired by those commonly eaten in and originating from Gilan in the North of Iran.
In the Gilaki language these pancakes are called Kooie Kaka which means Pumpkin (Kooie) Pancake (Kaka). Despite our love for poetry and romanticising everything that is Persian, we Iranians cut straight to the chase with our food descriptions!
How to Make Kooie Kaka?
These pancakes are a also great way to make sure there is no waste from the pumpkins you carve for Halloween.
All you need to do is roast a chopped pumpkin with or without the skin (if you are using the remains of your carved pumpkin) in a medium-hot oven (180°C fan oven) for about 30 minutes or until soft. When cooked and cooled down, take the cooked pumpkin flesh and place into a bowl mash into a purée. The pumpkin purée can be used for the Kooie Kaka pancakes as per the recipe below and any leftovers can be frozen to be used at a later date. Alternatively, I am sure most of you will have a favourite soup or risotto recipe to use the remaining pumpkin for. A small / medium sized pumpkin usually yields about 400 grams of purée.
The pancake batter is a standard American fluffy pancake batter with the addition of the pumpkin and spices (cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg). Traditionally the amount of pumpkin used in Kooie Kaka is more than I use in my recipe below – mine is kid friendly and mostly about ensuring there is no waste from the Halloween pumpkin decoration season. Also the pancake is firmer and keeps better if there are any leftovers. If you do want the pancakes to be more about the pumpkin, then reduce the flour measurement to 200 grams in the recipe below.
Please also feel free to substitute and experiment with your favourite pancake batter, particularly if you prefer gluten free or are vegan.
How to Serve the Pancakes
Serve with either maple syrup, honey or cherry syrup drizzled over and sprinkle with pomegranate arils, crushed pistachios and a dusting of icing sugar as pictured.
Other Breakfast Recipes
- Panir Bereshteh – Persian Scrambled Eggs with Feta & Dill
- Nargessi (Persian Spinach & Eggs)
- Sholeh Zard Overnight Oats
- Persian Eggs Recipe (Borani Esfenaj with Poached Eggs and Aleppo Butter) | Kitchn (thekitchn.com)
- 250 g pumpkin purée (roast pumpkin and mash flesh - see notes above)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 nutmeg (grated)
- 1 cardamom pod (seeds removed and crushed)
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 300 g self-raising flour
- 300 ml milk
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 medium free range eggs
- Vegetable Oil and butter (for cooking the pancakes)
- Crushed pistachios, icing sugar, maple syrup / honey / cherry syrup (to serve)
- Place the flour, baking powder, spices, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Crack in the eggs and whisk until smooth. Add the milk while whisking.
- Then add the pumpkin purée and whisk further.
- Heat a splash of oil and a small knob of butter in a non-stick frying pan until sizzling. Add spoonfuls of batter to make pancakes the size you prefer (I make mini ones - approx 5 cm diameter). Cook until bubbles start to form on the surface, then flip and cook the other side. Eat straight away or keep warm in a low oven while you cook further batches.
- Serve pancakes with pomegranate arils, drizzled with honey or syrup of your choice and garnish with a dusting of icing sugar and crushed pistachios.
I love cake. My cake love came later in life as I was a real savoury food seeker until my thirties. Then the delightful past-time of cake and coffee on a lazy sunday afternoon developed and it is a ritual I like to keep up. Most of the time I like to venture into my local coffee shop and bakery but once in a while I channel Mary Berry and produce a home-baked goody.
One of my Mary Berry moments resulted in this delight. I really fancied a Victoria Sandwich, mostly because it brings so much joy with very little baking effort! The only problem was I only had Persian sour cherry jam in my cupboard as opposed to strawberry or raspberry. I briefly contemplated heading out to the nearest shop for jam but it was a Sunday, my pyjamas felt snug and frankly I couldn’t be bothered. I rummaged around my kitchen cupboards for flavour inspiration to match with the sour cherry jam. I landed on lime and vanilla for the sponge, rose water flavoured whipped cream and ground pistachios for the decoration. The experiment was a success and my Persian version of the British classic Victoria Sandwich is a firm favourite in my household.
The cake batter is the standard ‘225 grams of butter, sugar and self-raising flour plus 4 eggs’ mixture. It’s a great cake batter and one where even the novice baker will yield the perfect crumb. I also use this for cupcakes.
You can get your hands on sour cherry jam, rose water and pistachios from most Middle-Eastern food shops or online. The brand of sour cherry jam I use is ‘1&1’ but ‘Anjoman’ is also an excellent alternative. If all else fails just use a good quality cherry jam from your local supermarket which will also have rose water and pistachios.
A Persian Homage to the Victoria Sandwich
- 225 g golden caster sugar
- 225 g unsalted butter (plus a little extra to grease tins - at room temperature)
- 4 free range eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- zest of 1 lime
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 225 g self-raising flour
- 1 jar sour cherry jam (290g)
- 300 ml whipping cream
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 1 to 2 tbsp icing sugar (to dust)
- 2 tbsp ground pistachios
- Preheat the oven to 180°C conventional / 160°C Fan / Gas mark 4. Grease and line the bottom of two 20cm/8in sandwich tins with a circle of baking paper.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light in colour and fluffy. Crack the eggs one by one and beat each one in before adding the next.
- Add the vanilla extract and lime zest. Then sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and gently fold into the mixture.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the tins, using a spatula to remove all of the mixture from the bowl. Gently smooth the surface of the cakes. Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Don’t open the door while they’re cooking.
- While the cakes are cooking, add the whipping cream and rose water to a mixing bowl and whip until it forms stiff peaks.
- The cakes are done when they’re golden brown and coming away from the edge of the tins. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool in the tins for 5 minutes. You can use a thin skewer or the tip of a sharp knife to check the cakes by gently poking the centre to the bottom. It should come out clean of cake batter. Run a palette knife around the inside edge of the tin and carefully turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Set aside to cool completely.
- To assemble, choose the sponge with the best top, then put the other cake top-down on to a serving plate. Spread with the sour cherry jam (I use the whole jar - reserve some of the jam liquid to drizzle on top of the whipped cream), then spread the whipped cream on top of the jam and drizzle the remaining jam liquid over the cream. Place the other sponge on top and dust with icing sugar and the ground pistachios.
Indulgent and fudgey brownies made with luxardo cherries and pistachios. A lovely accompaniment to a cup of Persian chai (tea).
Cherry and Pistachio Brownies
This brownie recipe is one I created to add to the selection of tea-accompanying sweet treats for the chocolate lovers in my family. I have adapted a standard brownie recipe and added Luxardo Maraschino Cherries and fresh pistachios to add a little Persian touch to a familiar friend.
For those of you who have not come across Luxardo Maraschino Cherries, these are candied cherries soaked in Luxardo marasca cherry syrup. Often used by mixologists for their cocktails, replacing those bright red cocktail cherries, with a deep purple, slightly sour cherry. They are incredible in cocktails, but also an amazing addition to baking recipes or just being poured (with the syrup) over a vanilla ice cream. Using them in a brownie recipe adds to the gooey texture and balances the sweetness with a subtle sour note.
These brownies can be eaten as a dessert with cream or custard, should you fancy. I break mine down into little bites and enjoy them with a glass of hot Persian tea.
The Art of Making Tea
We Iranians love our tea (chai). As far back as I can remember my maman has always had a samovar in her kitchen. Samovars are traditionally used to make tea. Originating in Russia, the samovar has spread through Russian culture to other parts of Europe and the Middle-East, including Iran. Samovars are typically crafted out of metal such as plain iron, copperp or polished brass. It usually consists of a body, base and chimney, steam vent and teapot. The body shape is usually like a barrel and the water is boiled in this section.
Many samovars have a ring-shaped attachment around the chimney to hold and heat a teapot filled with tea concentrate (tea leaves with water). The tea pot is placed on the chimney and is steamed by the boiling water in the body of the samovar. The tea is then poured into a glass and then hot water is poured in to dilute the tea to your liking i.e. the right colour. No milk is added to our tea. Modern samovars now look like giant kettles and are made using plastic.
Most Iranian households will have a special blend of tea leaves that they mix themselves from varieties such as Early Grey, Darjeeling and Assam. I remember my maman pouring all her chosen tea leaves into a large bowl and mixing them by hand with the aroma of the leaves filling the kitchen. That aroma is amplified into another level of joy while it steams in the little tea pot on the samovar. Then when the fragrance hits your nose before you take your first sip.
What Iranians Serve with Tea
Part of tea drinking ritual is having sugar cubes or sweet nibbles served alongside our tea. The veteran tea drinker will place a sugar cube in their mouth and sip their tea, with the cube breaking down and sweetening each intake of the beverage. Some of us like our tea with the well-known Middle-Eastern sweet treat, Baklava. With a table full of Persian treats ranging from biscuits to nougat, we are often spoiled for choice.
Despite the array of these Persian delights my heart always belongs to chocolate! Being born and brought up in the UK, chocolate was introduced to me at a young age and if it is on offer I always choose it first over other sweet treats. Whether it is the posh stuff that a Swiss-based relative has brought over as soghati (a gift from their travels) or the cheap stuff we gorged on as kids – I am not picky!
Other Sweet Delights
Check out some other sugary treats!
Cherry and Pistachio Brownies
- 175 g unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
- 200 g dark chocolate (good quality - 70%+ cocoa)
- 325 g caster sugar
- 130 g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 3 free-range eggs
- 125 g Luxardo Cherries (chopped) (plus 2 tbsp of the syrup)
- 2 tbsp ground fresh pistachios (the pistachios do not need to be finely ground as you want some texture in the brownie mix) (plus extra to decorate)
- 1 tsp icing sugar (to decorate)
- Preheat oven to 160°C (fan) / 180°C (conventional) / Gas mark 4.
- Line a baking tray (33cm x 23cm x 5cm) with baking paper / grease-proof paper.
- Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water. Leave mixture to melt. Stir to ensure there are no lumps and the butter and chocolate are fully incorporated.
- Remove from heat. Add sugar and stir until incorporated. Add flour and salt and stir until well incorporated. Stir in eggs and mix until smooth. The mixture will have a thick consistency.
- Add chopped cherries, cherry syrup, ground pistachios and mix in. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tray.
- Place tray in oven for about 30 to 35 mins. The brownies are done when they are flaky on top but still gooey in the middle. Be careful not to over-cook as the edges will become crunchy and hard.
- Once baked, leave to cool before dusting with the icing sugar and sprinkling with ground pistachios.
Make these Persian inspired cupcakes flavoured with rose water and pistachios. Beautifully elegant whether serving at home to friends or as wedding cupcakes.
I first made these cupcakes over 10 years ago for a friend’s wedding and they have been a firm favourite ever since.
I experimented with many flavours but these were the favourite amongst my family. Not surprising really as they are flavoured with rose water and pistachio. Had I found a use for saffron in the recipe, then I would have had the holy trinity of Persian desserts! But I felt the pink and ivory tones were perfect for the cupcakes’ presentation and that the yellow effect of incorporating saffron would not have been as aesthetically pleasing.
The Rise of the Cupcake
Cupcakes enjoyed a lot of attention and glamour following the episode in Sex and the City featuring Magnolia Cupcakes. The UK saw Violet’s Cakes, Hummingbird Bakery and Lola’s Cupcakes as the UK’s representation in the delicious world of luxury cupcakes.
Most people I speak to have baked cupcakes before but even if you are a first-timer, despite how pretty these mini cakes look, they are very easy to create. Many of us have cake-making equipment in our kitchen nowadays, such as electric beaters or stand mixers and if not it’s a great workout for the arms!
Standard Cake Batter Recipe
My go-to recipe for a basic cake batter is what I call the 4:225 ratio. For 4 eggs, I use a weight of 225 grams for the dry ingredients and butter.
- Unsalted butter – 225 grams;
- Caster sugar -225 grams;
- Self-raising flour – 225 grams;
- Free-range eggs x 4;
- 1 teaspoon baking powder; and
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract.
The above are the ingredients for a basic vanilla sponge. I then add other flavours, such as rose for this recipe or lime zest for my cherry and lime flavoured victoria sandwich. This standard cake batter recipe creates a lovely crumb and yields 12 cupcakes in a muffin-style tray or 1 x two layer victoria sandwich (8″ diameter).
Decorating the Cupcakes
For the decoration, I use a standard buttercream icing flavoured with vanilla and rosewater. I use crushed fresh pistachio slivers and edible rose petals, which are both available from Iranian and Middle-Eastern supermarkets. If you cannot get your hands on rose petals, then crushed fresh pistachios are equally lovely for decorating.
Storing the Cupcakes
Store cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Persian Delights Instagram Reel
Cake Batter / Sponge
- 225 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 225 g caster sugar
- 4 medium free range eggs (room temperature)
- 225 g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tbsp rose water (depending on how floral you want it)
- 1 to 2 tbsp ground fresh pistachios
Buttercream Icing and Decoration
- 250 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 450 g icing sugar
- Pink food colouring (if you want your cupcakes to have a pink tint - I do a mix of ivory and light pink cupcakes)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tbsp rose water
- 2 tbsp milk
- Ground pistachios and edible rose petals (for decoration)
For the Cupcake Sponge
- Preheat oven to 160°C (fan) / 180°C (conventional) / Gas mark 4. Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with cases (deep fill cupcake tin).
- In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light in colour and fluffy.
- Crack eggs one by one and beat each one in before adding the next.
- Add vanilla extract and rose water. Then sift flour and baking powder into bowl and gently fold into mixture.
- Add ground pistachios and gently fold into mixture.
- Divide mixture equally into cupcake cases and place in oven for 20 to 25 mins. To check if cupcakes are done, use a thin skewer to check one by gently poking to the bottom. It should come out clean of cake batter. Leave cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
For the Buttercream Icing and Decoration
- Make buttercream by beating butter until light in colour and then sift the icing sugar gradually and beat until fully mixed.
- Then add vanilla extract, rose water and milk and mix. I halve my icing mixture and add pink food colouring to one batch and leave the other half an ivory colour.
- Make sure your cupcakes have cooled and then pipe or spread your icing onto the cupcakes.