Cake Yazdi: Persian-Style Rosewater & Cardamom Muffins

To Iranians Yazdi cakes (cake yazdi)  are what Madeleine are to the French. When I was baking these beauties the aroma of roses and cardamom wafted through the kitchen and filled the house with so much sweetness.

A batch of cake yazdi with pistachio topping.

Like the aroma of Marcel Proust’s madeleines the lovely scent of roses and cardamoms evoked memories of many things in my past, my life in Iran, love, friends and family. My Almond Rosewater Baklava Cake evokes similar memories.

Every bakery and confectionery in Iran is sure to have large trays filled with these little cakes. I always wanted to recreate the delicate scent and flavour of cake yazdi. I tried many recipes. Most of them called for lots of oil and sugar. Now when it comes to these two ingredients I can’t but skimp and when I did, the results weren’t as good as I expected.

At a bakery in Iran. Photo from Fars News Agency.
Mound of yazdi cakes in bakery in Iran. Photo from web.

So I set out on a mission to make a lower fat and sugar version that was also easier to make and didn’t involve lots of batter-beating. I finally came up with this recipe which is unbelievably easy to make and lower in fat and sugar. The texture may not be as fine as the original but as long as flavour goes, my version is really true to the real thing. Critics No.1 & 2 both approved of the flavour and even liked the texture.

You only need a wooden spoon to mix the batter, no mixer needed.
No mixer needed to mix the batter.

There is a lot of flavour going on here. As could be expected, I used Persian rosewater – It’s really delicate. I also used ground seeds from whole cardamom pods rather than using ground cardamom.

Batter should be lumpy.
Batter should be lumpy.

The trick I used to compensate for cutting oil – oh, and I used olive oil – to make the cakes moister and healthier was to add grated apples. It really worked without affecting the flavour at all.

Topping the muffins with sliced almonds and sugar creates a crunchy top.

These muffins keep well for a few days, if you can resist eating them all on the first day, and taste even better after sitting in an airtight container for at least half a day.

To make 12 muffins you need the following ingredients:

  • 280g flour
  • 150g sugar (or 180 if you like muffins very sweet)
  • 1tbsp baking powder
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • 60ml olive oil (not virgin or extra virgin)
  • 150ml Greek style yoghurt
  • 1 large apple, grated
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rosewater (or a couple of drops of rose essence)

For topping:

  • Sliced almonds or pistachio slivers
  • Coarse Muscavado or white sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper muffin cases.
  2. Put flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar in a large bowl and mix well with a spoon.
  3. Mix the eggs, oil, grated apple, yoghurt, rosewater and ground cardamom seeds in another bowl and mix well with a spoon.
  4. Make a hole in the middle of the flour mix and add all the wet ingredients. Mix with a spoon until a batter is formed. Don’t overmix. The batter should be lumpy or muffins will have a rubbery texture.
  5. Use two oiled spoons or an ice cream scoop (self-release type) to divide the batter in the paper cases. Sprinkle some sliced almonds or pistachio slivers and then a little sugar on top of the muffins. Bake for 24 minutes or until the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Cool the muffins on a rack and store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Leave your comments here:

Leave a Reply