Cardamom, Rose & Lemon Cake

Talk about taking a risk with flavours! Both Cardamom and Rose are ingredients that taste truly wonderful, but only in the right proportions. If you don’t add enough you’d never know they were there. Add too much, however and it’s a totally different story – well, unless you like eating soap, that is! Fortunately, this recipe for Cardamom, Rose & Lemon Cake saves you the guesswork.

You may have seen similar cakes before and I have to admit that this recipe is heavily inspired by several I’ve seen online. Those are generally called Persian Love Cakes and contain the same flavours in varying combinations. I’ve tried a few of those recipes before settling on my own version of it here, with the added treat of a rose petal jam swirl. I couldn’t bring myself to use the same name, as I doubt this has much to do with Persia at all. Though I did copy one element of those other cakes – the decoration. What could be more tempting than the beautiful crisp white icing, studded with pink rose petals and green pistachios.

Anyway – back to the recipe… This cake contains just the right amount of cardamom to bring a fresh, herbal and lightly spiced flavour to the cake, without it obilterating the other flavours. Cardamom works well in so many recipes thanks to its complexity, but the general rule is to add a little bit at a time and test it as you go. Easier with a curry than with a cake, it has to be said, but I’ve done the testing for you here. Half of a teaspoon doesn’t sound like much, but it goes a long way.

The same is true for rosewater and rose jam, which bring a wonderfully bright floral flavour and aroma. I keep a jar of rose jam in the fridge, as it brings otherwise dull porridge to life, but I know that one spoonful is plenty. As with cardamom, it can become rather domineering if you’re not careful. Here it leaves a wonderfully delicate taste in your mouth, much like walking through a rose garden in the Spring sunshine.

Those two flavours are kept in check by a modest dash of lemon – both juice and zest – which help balance everything out. This is far from being a lemon cake, but you certainly know it’s there as you eat it.

As well as having a lovely flavour, this cake also has a rather wonderful texture. Helped considerably by the generous amount of ground almonds. As with my Cherry Bakewell Cake these help the cake remain wonderfully moist and crumbly. It also means it’ll still taste fresh several days after you bake it – as long as you keep it in an airtight container. Assuming it lasts that long…

Cardamom, Rose & Lemon Cake

This wonderfully decadent cake is certainly full of Eastern promise, with a heady mixture of cardamom, rosewater and lemon. It's a perfect tea time treat.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Baking, Dessert, Sweets
Cuisine: Baking, Cakes, Sweets
Servings: 24 Bite-Sized Pieces
Calories: 220kcal


For the Cake

  • 150 g Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp Ground Cardamom
  • Pinch Fine Sea Salt
  • 100 g Rose Petal Jam
  • 225 g Butter or Margarine softened
  • 175 g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 4 large Free-Range Eggs
  • tbsp Rosewater
  • 1 Lemon juice & zest
  • 200 g Ground Almonds

For the Icing

  • 150 g Icing Sugar
  • 1 Lemon juice only
  • 2-3 tsp Water
  • 25 g Pistachio Kernels chopped
  • Edible Rose Petals optional


Make the Cake

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
  • Line a 23cm by 23cm square cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, ground cardamom and salt into a bowl and put to one side.
  • Heat the rose petal jam in a small pan over a low heat, until it becomes runny. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Put the caster sugar and butter into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy and smooth. This should take around 5 minutes to get a light and fluffy mixture.
  • When smooth, add the eggs, one at a time, and mix at a lower speed until fully combined. Add the rosewater, lemon zest and juice and lemon juice, then mix again.
  • Add the ground almonds to the bowl and mix on a low speed until combined with the wet ingredients.
  • Add around a quarter of the flour mixture and fold into the batter. Don’t overwork the mixture at this stage – you’re making a cake not bread! Repeat this process with the remaining flour until everything is fully combined.
  • Spoon the mixture into the lined tin and carefully spread to the edges with a palette knife or spoon. Drizzle the warm rose petal jam over the top of the cake batter and swirl through using a skewer or cocktail stick.
  • Transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden on top and set in the middle. Start checking after 25 minutes with a skewer – when it comes out clean the cake will be cooked.
  • Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the tin and leave on the rack until fully cooled.

Make the Icing

  • Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl.
  • Add the lemon juice and stir slowly until the sugar starts to dissolve and form a thick paste. You want this to have a smooth pourable consistency, so you may need to add a little water to achieve this. Add the water 1 tsp at a time to the bowl, stirring well after each addition, until you have a smooth icing.
  • Drizzle or spoon the icing over the top of the cooled cake in whatever pattern you like. I quite like making a mess in the kitchen, so tend to go down the Jackson Pollock route, but it’s up to you.
  • Once iced, sprinkle over the chopped pistachios and edible rose petals, if using, then allow the icing to set.
  • Store in an airtight container until ready to serve. I find this keeps well for a few days, thanks to the moistness of the ground almonds, but as I always say… I doubt it will last that long once your friends and family have tried it!


Estimated Values per Serving
of which Saturates3g
of which Sugars16g
Note: Nutritional information shown is per serving of the above recipe. Any side dishes or garnishes shown in photos are not included in these values, unless they are specifically listed as part of the recipe.

Scott Silverthorn

Hi, I’m Scott. I love cooking food and I love eating it - both useful credentials for writing a food blog! I get a lot of joy from sharing my passion with my friends and family, so here's hoping you enjoy it too.

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