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. In recent years we have started seeing more of both in supermarkets (thank you cali!)… but tbh, although I am still sad I can’t get them as often as say, peanuts and oranges.
So I feel like, if you are going to use them in a dessert – they should central. The problem is, pistachio is a rather delicate flavor. 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 jello.)
So when I saw Ed Kimber’s gorgeously green cake, I was intrigued (to put it mildly). I made it with some green pistachios I had on hand and it was WONDERFUL. Then again with some regular pistachios I’d shelled myself and while not as green, it was delicious.
I’ve made it countless times since and have adapted it to be smaller (to fit my “small batch” pistachio budget lol), to use lemon which I think complements the cake better and with a teeny bit more flour to help it hold form. And I gave it a berry glaze (pomegranate when they are in season, raspberries the rest of the year!).
But still, 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.
Pistachio flour or pistachios: IF you have easy access to ‘pistachio flour’ which is basically finely ground nuts, use that. If not, grind your own: if the nuts are raw, toast them in the oven for about 7 minutes at 350 F spread on a baking sheet. Once toasted, grind them with the flour in a food processor until very fine.
Butter: unsalted, this is important! Some pistachios are already salted so if we use salted butter and add the added salt it can ruin the cake.
Flour: all purpose flour. If you wanted to make this gluten free you can use a 1 to 1 flour swap.
Lemon: one lemon, rub off the wax if yours aren’t organic before you zest. If you don’t have raspberries or pom and want to make a more basic glaze you can use the juice from this lemon instead.
Vanilla & salt: pure vanilla extract and fine sea salt.
Eggs: two whole eggs at room temperature. Place them in a bowl of hot water to warm them up.
Preheat the oven and choose your pan: either a standard sized loaf pan (8 inches long) or a square pan, 8×8 inches. With either we’ll be able to slice it in half and add a glaze in the center as well as on top (the loaf sliced horizontally). Grease and flour the pan and set in a parchment paper to act as a sling.
If you are using pistachio flour, move ahead to the next step. If using raw nuts, toast them for 5-7 minutes until fragrant then wait for them to cool. Once they are cool (or if you are using toasted nuts) set them in a food processor with the flour and grind until fine.
In a bowl add the butter, sugar, lemon zest, salt and vanilla.
Beat until very airy and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Add in the eggs and beat for another 2-3 minutes.
Add in the flour, pistachios and baking powder and mix to just combine.
Spread into the prepared pan (here I’m using the 8×8 square):
Bake until a cake tester comes out clean. This will vary based on your chosen pan, for a loaf cake it’ll take a bit longer.
Let cool completely before slicing and glazing.
Once glazed I’d serve within the day as while the cake will keep for a few days the glaze will break and get messy. Store leftovers in an airtight container.
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