Cake Yazdi – cardamom and rosewater cupcakes

Cake Yazdi is to Iranians what vanilla or chocolate cupcakes are to Americans! I have yet to serve this cake (“kayk” in Farsi also translates to cupcakes in English) without generating a twinkle in the eye followed by an ear-to-ear smile. For anyone of Iranian origin, this familiar little treat evokes a sweet and tender emotion, prompting nostalgic stories about a distant childhood eating Cake Yazdi in Iran.

Cake Yazdi comes from Yazd, a five thousand-year-old city of Yazd located in the center of Iran and one of the greatest adobe cities of the world. This desert provincial capital is known for its delectable sweets, silk textiles, Zoroastrian fire temples, mosques, and wind towers. These fantastic structures create ventilation in buildings by capturing breezes from above while venting warmer air from below. The tallest wind catcher in Yazd is part of Dowlatabad Garden, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

I have made this cupcake dozens of times and have actually taught it in some of my cooking classes here in Seattle. Recently I pulled out some of my old – I mean Roza Montazemi-old – cookbooks to see if there are easier or better ways to make them. For those not familiar with Roza Montazemi, she was a chef/author whose books date back to the early 1970s, and the food pictures scream that decade’s style!

After 6 different trials of this recipe with varying degrees of success, I decided this was the best. I hope to evoke strong emotion in you as you make these cupcakes, and would love to know what stories they would prompt you to tell.



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Cake Yazdi

Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef
Cardamom and rosewater cupcakes
4.85 from 94 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Persian
Servings 12 cupcakes


  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, (300 g) or all purpose
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom, ground
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar, (200 g)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, (245 g) whole fat
  • 4 tablespoons rose water
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron, ground and dissolved in 3 tablespoons of hot water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, (113 g) gently melted


  • 1 tablespoon pistachios, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon rose petals (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 375° F / 190° C.
  • Gently grease the muffin tins or use cupcake liners.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.
  • Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.
  • Evenly fill the muffin tin or liners with the batter and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick test comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and place on a serving platter and sprinkle the topping while hot.
  • Store in an airtight container.


Different varieties of Cake Yazdi will replace the pistachios with sesame seeds.
Also, cardamom and rose water can be replaced with vanilla for a simple vanilla cupcake. 
Keyword cardamom, cupcakes, dessert, Rose water, saffron
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Katherine says:

    Would this work as a layer cake? Also, what size muffin tins do you have? I only have 3oz ones and was wondering if i will come up with a dozen or maybe more, given the amount of flour in the recipe? Thank you!

    1. Hi Katherine. By layer cake, do you mean baking this as a cake instead and layering it with other cake batters? If so, I imagine that may work, except I only use one egg for this cupcake so it will not rise significantly as a cake. As far as the size of the muffin tin goes, I used a standard muffin tin which is roughly about 3 oz and it will definitely fit the entire batter and yield 12 cupcakes. Hope this helps!

  2. Mirjam says:

    Delicious! I made them today and love them.

    1. Wonderful, so glad you enjoyed them Mirjam! There is just something so special about these cupcakes!

  3. Sehara says:

    Can’t wait to try these! Merci Chef Omid!

    1. My pleasure, hope you enjoy them!

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