For as long as I can remember, my mom has always had Baghlava Cake at the ready in the freezer to serve with tea just in case someone stops by. Little diamonds or squares of this cake also make an appearance at our Nowruz (Persian New Year) table. Baghlava is the Persian pronunciation for baklava. This cake is for those of us who are not quite up to rolling out sheet after sheet of phyllo for the more traditional baghlava. Here I’ve traded out the butter or vegetable oil for olive oil, which, along with the almond flour, makes for a more tender cake. Make sure to use almond flour and not almond meal. Serve with a cup of tea or Turkish coffee.
For more Sephardic holiday dishes, see The Best Sephardic Rosh Hashanah Recipes to Start off the Jewish New Year.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the rack set in the middle position. Lightly grease a nine- by 13-inch cake pan. Line the pan with Gefen Parchment Paper with enough overhang to be able to easily lift the cake out.
In a small bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand, beat the eggs and sugar until well combined. Add the olive oil, rose water, and cardamom, and combine.
Add the all-purpose flour mixture and the almond flour in alternating batches. Mix until just combined, but don’t overmix.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. It will spread thick, so make sure you get all the corners. Bake until lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
While the cake bakes, prepare the glaze. In a small pot, combine the sugar and ½ cup water over medium-high heat. Stir and bring to a very gentle boil to dissolve the sugar (stay close, as this happens quickly). Keep at a rapid simmer for three minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the rose water. Set aside.
Remove the cake from the oven. Gently lift the cake out of the pan using the overhanging parchment, and set it on a board. Cut the cake into diamonds or about one- and- a- half-inch squares. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze evenly over the hot cake. Pause in between drizzles to allow the cake to absorb the glaze. Sprinkle the top with the pistachios.
Allow the cake to completely cool. Serve at room temperature, or store in the fridge in an airtight container and serve chilled.
This cake freezes very well. Store in an airtight container with pieces of parchment paper in between and freeze for up to one month.
Excerpted from BOTTOM OF THE POT: Persian Recipes and Stories by Naz Deravian. Copyright © 2018 by Naz Deravian. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. Photography by Eric Wolfinger.