What the heck is Ispahan? And why does this loaf require rose syrup and rose extract? The answer is simple, as Dorie explains, in the preface to the recipe in Around My French Table. Ispahan was the former capital of Persia, now Iran, and also the name of a fragrant rose. Pierre Hermé, world renown French pastry chef and chocolatier, made this flavor famous via his Ispahan macarons made with “rose, lychee, and raspberry; he likened it as their Chanel suit — the one they sell the most.” Hmmmm….what will the persnickety husband think of an Ispahan Loaf Cake? I’m certain he’s never eaten any rose flavored dessert before, so I will hide the huge bottle of Monin rose syrup from view so I can get an unbiased opinion when he takes his first bite.
I waited on pins and needles as he ate a slice…certain he’d have some comment about the odd “perfumy” taste. There was silence. No comment. I was patient till his verdict was voiced seconds later.”It’s a good cake, real good” (no, he hasn’t taken my hints to provide more descriptive reviews). And when I told him it was called Ispahan…he suggested changing the name to Itsagood. Yup, this is the sense of humor that plagues me day in and day out. Even though the rose flavorings make this an “Ispahan” cake…I know this same recipe would be spectacular with just plain vanilla extract. Or stop by my kitchen and I will happily send you home with some rose syrup…I now own a lifetime supply.
This cake was super moist and dense with pops of slightly tart red jewels throughout. Almond flour and butter were creamed to make the base for this cake…then egg yolks were blended in with a bit of milk and the flavorings. In a separate bowl, the egg whites were whipped with a bit of sugar…this provided the leavening for the cake…and were folded in gently to the butter mixture alternating with a generous half cup of flour. Three rows of raspberries were lined up after the first layer of batter was spread in a loaf pan, followed by more batter, more raspberries and finally topped with the rest of the batter. Mine took well over the hour baking time….as my loaf pans are quite heavy. Poke a skewer in the middle of the cake to check for doneness. The publishers have asked us not to share this recipe, but I’m certain it’s been shared on the Internet, so do a quick search for Dorie’s Ispahan Loaf Cake to find detailed instructions. It would be a beautiful cake on your Easter table…especially with some fresh raspberries and whipped cream to garnish each slice.