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Persian Roulade (Video)

Written by Reyna Simnegar on Wednesday, 09 March 2011. Posted in Food Mood

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The first thing that comes to mind, at least to my mind, when someone mentions Middle Easter desserts is Baklava. However, there is one aspect of Persian desserts that you probably were not expecting at all. Many Persian desserts are actually French! Persians “borrowed” French desserts and made them their own by incorporating ingredients that are indigenous to Persian culture, such as saffron, cardamom, and, of course, rose water. Interestingly, Persians also borrowed French words and made them part of their everyday lingo. How do you say “thank you” in Farsi? You guessed it! Merci!

Persian Roulad is my favorite dessert. It calls for rose water. Rose water is by far the most exotic, sensuous, and stimulating product I have ever used. This water-like liquid can transport anyone to faraway gardens and faraway times. Persian Jews also use rose water for religious purposes. While other cultures use fragrances from cloves or even cinnamon, it is not surprising that Persian Jews use nothing less than rose water to help them return to their spiritual senses at the Havdalah ceremony. Persians need rose water in their taste buds to be able to continue carrying on the enchantment and mystery, the passion and romance that are characteristic of their people and their culture.

Persian Roulade

This is by far the most popular dessert at my Shabbat table! It is grand to see people’s eyes when I bring it to the table and also witness their puzzled faces while trying to figure out what is that extra flavor they can’t get their taste buds to decipher (rose water). Versatility is what is great about this recipe! You can use the same cake recipe I provide you, but the fillings are endless. Since I usually serve this cake after a meat meal, I use parve (nondairy) whipping cream (such as Rich Whip®). Other fun fillings are raspberry jam, Nutella® (if dairy), and even date butter—they are all amazing fillings. I also like to use rum or brandy mixed with a bit of water to moisten the cake if I do not have rose water handy…. This is a sure hit! I promise!

Tricks of the trade

The eggs should be at room temperature so that you can whip them to maximum volume. The secret to make the parchment paper stay in the baking pan is to spray the pan with a little oil or water before lining it. Cut slits in the corners of the paper for a snug fit. This cake freezes beautifully, just wrap in parchment paper and then in foil. Also, it is important to use parchment paper and not wax paper; these are not the same product. Make sure to not over bake this cake or it will crack. You can drizzle some powdered sugar on the cake before rolling it so it doesn’t stick to the parchment paper. For a cleaner look, you can cut off both ends of the cake…I’ll bet you can’t resist eating them!

 

Cake

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup flour

¼ cup rose water (to moisten cake)

Cream

1 pint non dairy whip topping, divided

1 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar

Garnish

Confectioners' sugar

4 strawberries

Non dairy whip topping

chocolate shavings or melted chocolate chips (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 17”x12”x1” jellyroll sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Beat eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer for 1 minute or until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes or until the mixture begins to turn pale yellow.

Gently and thoroughly fold in baking powder and flour with a flat spatula, making sure not to deflate the eggs. Spread batter evenly into the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until center springs back when lightly pressed.

In the meantime, whip non dairy whip topping until peaks form. Add sugar and combine. Set aside.

When cake is ready, hold the corners of the paper and remove from tray onto a flat surface. Peel cake off paper. Roll, 12-inch side in, along with the parchment paper. Set aside for a few minutes. Unroll and use a pastry brush to moisten the top of the cake with rose water. Spread cream evenly on the cake, leaving some for garnish. Roll again. Place on a platter, seam side down, and garnish with powdered sugar, melted chocolate, non dairy whip topping, and strawberries, as desired. Refrigerate if not serving immediately.

 

Yield: 10 slices

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From: Persian Food from the Non-Persian Bride by Reyna Simnegar. Visit Reyna’s website and blog. To purchase the book visit: www.feldheim.com

 

Rate and review Persian Roulade

 

About the Cookbook:

 

This new Kosher cookbook is unlike anything you have seen before. It offers an enticing collection of Persian and Middle Eastern recipes, from simple snacks to a full-blown feast! With over 100 stunning color photos and clear step-by-step instructions, you will be able to produce with ease a lavish spread of dishes from traditional well known Persian favorites to outright exotic. This book also offers sample Persian menus for all Jewish holidays and customs (minhagim) Persian Jews practice.

 

More than just a cookbook, Persian Food from the Non-Persian Bride is the odyssey of a Venezuelan woman venturing into the unknown and mysterious world of Persian Jewry through marriage. This book is full of hilarious, and at times ironic, accounts of what happens when soul mates are not from the same origin. This book is a celebration of Jewish cultural diversity. This book will inspire you, make you laugh and make you an incredible exotic kosher cook!

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About the Author

Reyna Simnegar

Reyna Simnegar’s family history dates back to the Spanish Inquisition, when her family fled from Spain and ultimately arrived in Venezuela, where she was born in Caracas. Reyna moved to the United States to pursue her degree in Interior Design. She began to take classes at UCLA and found her bashert (destined life-partner), Sammy, when he was her customer at Taco Bell on campus!

When her future husband moved to New York City to attend graduate school, Reyna moved there to be closer to him. However, before Reyna left Los Angeles, Sammy’s mother, who was afraid Sammy would starve in New York without authentic Persian food, hosted her for a week and taught her the intimate secrets of Persian cuisine so she could cook for Sammy. (This was a super investment for Sammy’s mom, because it obviated the need to FedEx frozen Persian food to New York!)

In New York, Reyna pursued a career in advertising, studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She lived across the street from the restaurant made famous on Seinfeld, and practiced her Persian recipes on friends, with great success.

Although Reyna started her personal quest toward becoming a religious Jew after discovering her family were Anusim (Marranos, or Crypto Jews) at the young age of 12, it was not until much later, while living in New York, that she was finally able to realize her dream of living the spiritual life she had always aspired to live. At the same time, Sammy (obviously inspired by...ahem...Reyna) started a personal spiritual quest of his own. Just like in a Hollywood movie—only this time it happened in Manhattan—they both became religious Jews, walking different paths but dancing to the same tune and toward the same goal: Truth. In the end, that was really the beginning, against all odds and in spite of the tribulations of being from two completely different cultures, they married according to the laws of the Torah, and managed to stay alive to be able to tell you about it!

She is very happily married and lives with her “vonderful” husband and five lively boys in Brookline, MA. And by the way, she did earn her Bachelors Degree in International Management and Economics—with honors—from the University of Massachusetts.

 

Visit Reyna’s website and blog.

Comments (2)

  • rachel
    16 March 2011 at 07:59 |

    It is so interesting to get recipes from other Jewish cultures. Thanks Reyna!

  • CookMama
    23 March 2011 at 03:05 |

    Wow, that looks real easy and delicious! Learned a new trick-rose water, thanks! Looking forward to trying this out.

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