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Persian Delights (Rose Water & Pistachio Cupcakes)

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



Persian Delights

Rose water and pistachio cupcakes
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Course: Dessert, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: Persian, British, Cross-cultural
Keyword: cupcakes
Servings: 12 large cupcakes
Author: Mersedeh Prewer


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.