Tuesday 1 June 2010

Pistachio cake

A fragrant and unusual cake that is both incredibly moist and light.

I asked Martin what sort of cake he'd like for his birthday this year; he made the rather unusual request of a pistachio sponge. I had never heard of such a thing but figured I'd have a go. The result was an amazingly moist cake with loads of subtle, beautiful flavours. The cardamom and orange zest really bring this to life. We served with some whipped cream and big grins. All measurements here are in American cups (I would recommend investing in these, they are cheap and incredibly useful), but if you don't have a set then just use a teacup.

- 3/4 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (if grinding yourself then remove the green husks and pop out the little black seeds)
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 vanilla pod
- 4 oz butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- Zest of 3 oranges


- Preheat the oven to 160 (fan oven) or 180 for conventional.
- Generously grease a 9-inch round cake pan and set aside.
- Put the shelled pistachios into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Be careful not to overprocess or they will become a paste.
- Put the ground pistachios into a bowl and mix together with the flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt.
- Remove the seeds from the vanilla pod and add them to the bowl.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar until pale in colour and fluffy in texture; this will take a few minutes.
- Add the eggs one at the time, beating well after each one.
- Put the mixer on low and add a tablespoon of the pistachio mixture, then half of the milk. Add half of the remaining pistachio mix, followed by the rest of the milk, then the rest of the pistachio mix until just combined.
- Turn off the mixture and using a spatula gently fold in the orange rind.
- Pour the batter (it will be very wet and loose) into the baking tin and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean from the centre and the edges of the cake pull away from the sides of the tin.
- Cool in the tin for 10 mins before turning out to cool fully on a wire rack.
- Serve at room temperature (putting it in the fridge will dry it out a lot) with cream or ice-cream.