Recipe: Cake Yazdi
from Homa Dashiki's 'Yogurt & Whey'
MAKES 12 INDIVIDUAL CAKES
Yazd, Iran, where my family is from, has a desert climate. The city looks and smells sandy, its air hot and dry. This cake, which originates in Yazd, is textured with rice flour and moistened with yogurt, and carries subtle fragrances of rose water and cardamom. It is just the right texture that thirsts for a complementary cup of tea.
This cake is so sentimental to me that I had never dared to make it at home. It felt too sacred for anyone other than the bakers who have been making it for a hundred years—in their signature cake molds—to make it. Even so, when I first got the courage to make it, the results tasted nothing like the cake I recalled from Iran.
It has been years of trial and error, landing on a recipe only to come back to it knowing it wasn’t right. I have even fought with my elders to give me their version of this recipe, and then I have fought with them further because those recipes were just not quite right.
Out of the wisdom of those trials and fights has come this recipe, which is the closest to home for me. And I have since patched over any hard feelings with my elders over tea and, what even they must begrudgingly admit, perfect cake Yazdi.
Note: These cakes are traditionally baked in fanned muffin tins, making individual tea cakes. You may use standard muffin tins.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 tablespoon rose water
1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with butter.
Sift the all-purpose flour, rice flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom into a small bowl. Whisk thoroughly till fully combined. Set aside.
In a separate small bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form; set aside. In a large bowl,1 whisk the egg yolks and sugar until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the melted butter, yogurt, and rose water and gently whisk until smooth, another 2 minutes.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until fully integrated. Add the egg whites until you have a uniform mixture, gently folding to not deflate the eggs. Fold in the pistachios.
Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling three-quarters full. Bake until the tops are browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
Let the cakes cool completely before unmolding them. Serve with tea (this is a must). Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Excerpted from Yogurt & Whey: Recipes of an Iranian Immigrant Life by Homa Dashtaki. Copyright © 2023 by Homa Dashtaki. Used with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
I know. Three bowls. I’m so sorry. You can curse me for this while you are washing the dishes, but you will forgive me once you try the cake.