Filed under: Quick Breads
November 9, 2018

Pistachio Cake

    I, obsessively, love all things pistachio and pomegranate, both which I grew up eating with carefree abundance. But

5 from 5 votes
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I, obsessively, love all things pistachio and pomegranate, both which I grew up eating with carefree abundance. But after I moved to the east coast, they became rare indulgences because of the cost of importing them. In recent years we have started seeing more of both in supermarkets (thank you cali!) although I am still unconsolably upset I can’t get them as often as say, peanuts and oranges. Gah.

So I feel like, if you are going to use them in baking – they gotta be central. The problem is, so many other ingredients want to steal the show from this humble nut. Chocolate overwhelms, vanilla can completely mask it and other flavor additions get in the way. Most of the time when I’ve had it at restaurants or bakeries, pistachio cake just doesn’t taste like pistachio. Possibly because other stronger ingredients are added (rose water anyone?) or because the actual nut wasn’t used. (Side note: don’t get me started on those fake-green muffins sold everywhere that claim to be pistachio but are actually green effing jello.)

Enter this cake. She has, most joyfully, more pistachio than flour. She invites one guest, lemon, which serves only to subtly and sweetly complement. You will not mistake this cake for anything else but pistachio. And it’s glorious.

I made it the first time with green pistachios (because I was totally smitten with Edd Kimber’s vibrant cake photos +3 years ago) but these are awfully difficult to come by and the price is atrocious. So I made it a second time with the raw shelled variety. The second time I also found myself wanting a bit more cake-like texture so I bumped up the flour. Both are equally delicious.


Pistachio Cake Recipe

adapted from theboywhobakes


  • I cut the original recipe in half to fit into a loaf pan and used lemon instead of orange zest, as lemon tends to complement pistachios better imo. This thus makes one short loaf, but the taste is so intense you won’t want for a taller slice.
  • This cake can be made either with regular pistachios or Sicilian green. You needn’t toast them before using but I am curious if that would drum up the taste a bit.
  • For a dense cake with more nut-like texture, use the lesser amount of flour. For a slightly fluffier cake (which liked more and found less oily overall) use the higher amount. Take a close look at the photos to see which you prefer.
  • The first time I made it I topped it with the glaze but skipped it the second time and found it just delightful on it’s own.


Pistachio Cake

5 from 5 votes



  • 100 g green pistachios
  • 35 grams of all-purpose flour for a dense nutty cake or 70 grams for a fluffier cake
  • 113 g unsalted butter room temperature (8 TB)
  • 100 g fine granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt


  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar sifted if organic
  • 2 tablespoons of pomegranate arils plus more for garnish
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • drops of lemon juice
  • some green pistachios chopped or kept whole


  • Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a loaf pan with butter and flour.
  • Pulse your pistachios with the flour until finely ground.
  • Beat the butter for a few minutes then add the sugar and zest and beat until light and fluffy
  • Add eggs one at a time, while mixer is running and beat until combined.
  • Add the pistachio and flour mixture, the salt and baking powder to the wet mix and fold with a spatula until combined.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until top springs back when pressed.
  • If you are making the glaze: do so by pressing pomegranate arils through a sieve to release about 1/2 tablespoon of juice. Add the lemon juice, powdered sugar and the salt and mix to combine.
  • Once the cake is cool, drizzle with the glaze and top with pistachios and more arils.

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Recipe Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    So flavorful. I used 70g of flour. The loaf turned out moist and delicious. For the glaze, I used only powdered sugar and pomegranate juice and left out the lemon juice. I will definitely be making it again! Thanks!

  2. 5 stars
    Fantastic loaf!! I only wish the color was a bit more green. I might try adding some green food coloring just for fun next time. The pink glaze is so pretty and fun as well but the loaf is so good on its own too!!

  3. I made this with the higher flour measurement (70g or something) but found the colour too pale and lemon zest really overpowered the pistachio. I’m going to try with almond flour instead of ground pistachio, add cardamom and use chopped pistachios. Maybe tiny bit of blanched spinach for colour?

  4. 5 stars
    This was amazing! I tried the batter and realized even without the glaze it would have been wonderful. I doubled the amount of glaze and for a thicker frosting layer and it was wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Looks amazing can’t wait to try it. I was wondering what you think about if I use pistachio paste? Like if so how much I should put in?

  6. Is there an ingredient missing in the glaze? 1/2 tablespoon of pomm juice and a couple drops of lemon juice are enough to make a drizzle out of 1/2 cup powder sugar? Would love clarification definitely want to make this!

    • Sorry it sank mary, I hope it still tasted good! A number of things could have made it so: using a small pan (if you see in the photos mine sunk as it was in a 6″), overbeating the batter, cooking too long or not enough, not using a water bath, and cooling too quickly (why I use prop open the oven as it cools). Cheesecakes are finicky tbh, so don’t feel too bad about it.

  7. 5 stars
    I can’t thank you enough for this wonderful recipe. The cake was delightful. I used 70g of flour and opted against the glaze and it was still great. I do wonder if I can do the same with almonds. Any thoughts?

  8. It looks amazing, just discovered this on pinterest! I think though you are missing a step in the glaze: when/how is the powder sugar added? Thanks for the recipe.