Since I already baked and wrote about Savoury Cheese & Chive Bread a few weeks ago, I picked another recipe from Around My French Table for this week’s French Fridays With Dorie. The Ispahan Loaf Cake caught my attention early on and I’ve always been a fan of Pierre Hermé’s Ispahan family of dessert. When M Hermé first launched the combination of rose, raspberry, and litchi in the form of a macaron to the world, Ispahan instantly became a classic. Since then, he has developed numerous incarnations of this combination, some more elaborate than others. Greenspan shared with us the Ispahan Loaf Cake in her cookbook, one of the easiest variation. It was not trivial to source all the ingredients. For this very reason, I doubt the recipe will make it to the rotation of the cooking group. Today is a good opportunity for me to give this recipe a try.
This loaf cake is far from the typical quickbread. A batter of butter, almond, confectioner’s sugar, and egg yolks is perfumed with rose syrup and rose extract. Flour and whipped egg whites were gently folded in to create a tight crumb. I especially love the little bursts of tartness from the fresh raspberries studding the inside of the cake in attractive pattern. Greenspan wrote that the cake ought to be pale pink from the colouring of the rose syrup. She recommended using the Monin syrup which has a much deeper colour than mine. Although I added a touch of food colouring in hopes of having a pink cake, the colour didn’t come through after baking. No big deal because this cake is already lovely as is!
I am pleased how the rose fragrance lingers even after baking yet not too strong. It’s a fine line between floral and soapy. This recipe strikes just the right balance. I would love to see litchi being used in the cake too but I know from past experience, the flavour of this fruit does not translate well from cooking. The cake is moist as is. Otherwise, a light soak of litchi syrup would be an option. I love how a sophisticated flavour combination is delivered in this casual dessert that can be enjoyed anytime of the day. With so much rose syrup and extract still in the pantry, I know for sure that I’ll be making this cake on a regular basis. This cake curbs my cravings for Ispahan but it’s been too long since I last visited Paris. I am dreaming of experiencing all its variations in the City of Lights.
For something less sweet, check out the Savoury Cheese & Chive Bread made by other French Fridays with Dorie members this week!
edit 03-22-2013: This recipe made it to the group rotation! Check out how it turned out for other FFwD bloggers. And it's time for a confession. I never once made this cake again even though I had all the extra rose syrup and extract. The recipe was more fickle than most loaf cakes and I couldn't be bothered. However, that does not mean the special ingredients gathered dust. They made fine addition in my version of the Ispahan jam. I made batches of almost seedless raspberry jam flavoured with rose syrup and extract with infusion of dried rosebuds. Now that's a take on Ispahan I get to enjoy every moring!