French Fridays with Dorie: Ispahan loaf cake

Around my French Table French Fridays with Dorie Ispahan loaf Dorie GreenspanI’ve known about this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe (Ispahan Cake Loaf, p 440) for a while now and just as well, because sourcing the rose extract and rose syrup was a little challenging for those of us in Canada.  I ended up sourcing the rose syrup at O Gourmet and Olive Nation carries both the syrup and the rose extract. But that seems like ages ago. I put off making this until yesterday – I KNOW – so unlike me, but it’s March Break and I’ve been busy and also in New York for a few days and, well, I figured, this was a simple loaf cake, it would be no problem to whip up once I got home. Right? I mean, I make macarons multiple times a month, I can surely make a loaf cake….

Ispahan is the brainchild of Pierre Hermé – the name of a rose varietal but also the name of his exquisite pastry creations flavoured with rose, lychee and raspberry. It’s quite an intense combination (his signature pastry is a rose-flavoured macaron shell sandwiching rose, lychee and raspberry pastry cream) but this cake only contains rose syrup and extract with raspberries studding the cake, no lychees. It sounds pretty simple, huh?

Well perhaps I was a little too cocky because my first attempt at this was a complete and utter fail. An #epicfail if you like. I carefully lined up the raspberries (maybe I had too many?) and popped it in the oven for an hour.

Ispahan loaf in the making

I plunged a skewer in the centre of the cake and it came out clean in two places. I set it to cool, and took it out of the tin. Then I noticed it was kind of squidgy in some places on top. I cut into it and lo and behold it was raw and runny in the centre. I guess the skewer cleaned itself on the more cooked parts towards the surface as it came out of the cake… I don’t know. I mean, yeah, there was a lot of fruit in there but still. I popped it back into the oven for over 30 more minutes (at a higher temperature) and the edges started to brown quite a lot so I pulled it out. Nope –  it had a quite hard outer layer, a layer of quite stodgy cake and an uncooked centre. Behold:

Well, as you can imagine I wasn’t too happy with that so I checked how many raspberries I had left and realised I didn’t have enough for a full cake (plus, you know, this makes a HUGE cake and we really don’t need a huge cake around here right now!). I quartered the ingredients (hello calculator and scale!) and used a smaller loaf pan to make a much smaller loaf both in length and in height.  This time around the batter was much more fluid, more silky – the first round was quite a thick batter that had to be spread into the pan – the only thing I can think is that I might have mis-measured the first time but that would be unlike me. Not impossible, just unlikely. In any case, the result wasn’t quite what I had hoped for…

… but not entirely unpleasant. I mean, at least it’s cooked, right?

I had to wrap this up yesterday because to be honest I was sick of the sight of it but I am quite looking forward to some with my morning coffee. Like a muffin, only more fancy! And the rose flavour? It’s definitely there! It’s a cake that tastes like Turkish delight!

To see how this cake really should look, you should check out Candy’s blog!


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21 thoughts on “French Fridays with Dorie: Ispahan loaf cake”

  1. Oh man. Sorry this was such a trial for you. Total bummer.
    Sourcing the ingredients was a pain “down here” too (its not often I get to refer to Northern NY as down here…), I think a lot of cocktails with rose syrup are in my future…

    Your second version may not have made you happy, but it is pretty!

  2. Oh, gosh, I’m sorry you had to make this twice. Mine took at least another 20 minutes in the oven if not more. And I was shocked that the hubby loved it…unpredictable man 😉

  3. What a pain! From the P&Q, it looks like several people had the same problem. My oven doesn’t go lower than 350, so that’s what I baked mine on. It baked properly in the specified amount of time. I suspect a flaw with oven temp, more than I suspect juicy berries. I mean, berries are SUPPOSED to be juicy, right? You’d think that would be factored in to the baking instructions.

    You bake macarons several times a month? Woah. I want some. haha.

  4. I feel with you for that first cake, and the raspberries. But the second is great! I really think the oven tº doesn´t quite work at such a low point. My raspberries sank, but I didn´t follow instructions. It was an amazing cake anyway. As I bet yours was too!

  5. Thanks for mentioning my take on the cake Mardi! Glad it finally works out for you, somewhat. The leftover rose extract and syrup found new life to flavour my raspberry jam (along with dried rosebuds). Much more successful than the cake. Next recipe!

  6. It’s a shame that the first attempt didn’t turn out Mardi but you are a trooper for making a second loaf. I think I would have thrown everything in the trash and called it a day.

  7. Bummer about the squishy inside. Mine was still uncooked at an hour so I upped the temp and baked for another 15 minutes. The second cake looks like it turned out perfectly!!

  8. Gasp! It does kinda taste like Turkish delight! Maybe that’s why I like it so much! Seriously, I love this cake. Your second cake looks fantastic – it’s just too bad that you had to make this twice to get such lovely results! Enjoy it with breakfast!

  9. You had exactly the same experience on your first cake that I had. I checked it in a few places and it was cooked, but flipped it over and lava cake… So glad your second was a success.

  10. Just wondering, Mardi, if the problem was as simple as just not cooking it long enough. I cooked mine longer and then turned off the oven, opened the door and just let the loaf cool off slowly. I didn’t invert it for another hour. My batter looked like your batter, as you noted. In defense of You, your recipes every week are pretty spot-on, just lovely. For those of us who have a “bad” week about once each month (think Cheesy Creme Brulée), it’s heartening to see that the very talented FFWD members sometimes can’t make it work either. You probably don’t consider that a compliment but it was.

  11. I am glad you tried it again because your second attempt looks so good. Hubby loved this so
    much that I am definitely going to make it again with the fresh berries. Have a great weekend.

  12. I love all the pictures – even the ones with the undercooked batter look pretty. I have been thinking of making an orange flower version of this cake soon.

  13. I think your little cake looks prefect – definitely a Turkish Delight. I think most of us had a challenge with the baking time – mine was in for quite a long extra time (can’t remember how long), as I started to worry because the outside was quite brown – raspberries are an expensive commodity here (even frozen ones like I used), and I didn’t want to waste them. Luckily, apart from the sticking incident, it all worked out in the wash.


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