A cake to go nuts for…

I love it when you find a recipe that always works, a recipe that won’t let you down, something that is really easy to whip together and the end result is delicious and ‘moreish.’  This recipe for pistachio cake is just that, it has never let me down and always produces a great end result.  This particular recipe is from the Rose Bakery book ‘Breakfast, lunch, tea.’

A simple sponge cake is hard to beat, but sometimes you want something with more depth, texture and a touch of sophistication.  The way to get that added depth and texture into a cake is by using ground nuts in the mix.  Adding ground almonds to desserts is a cooking technique that goes right back to Roman times, and the addition of ground almonds always seems to produce a cake that is very moist with a nutty texture.  The key is to buy whole blanched almonds and use a food processor to produce the ground end product yourself.  The packets of ready ground almonds never seem to give as good a result, the powder is too fine and you lose that nutty bite that you retain by making your own ground almonds, as the food processor doesn’t break down the almonds completely to a fine powder.  I love this recipe even more as it uses one of my favourite nuts, the pistachio, together with the almonds to give a really moist, quite heavy, but decadent, rich cake.  The pistachios add a nice splash of colour as you get flecks of the nut all through the mix.

There is also something very aromatic and subtle about this cake – the sweet baked smell of eggs, butter and ground nuts, is partnered with a hint of Arabia, provided by the mild background perfume of Rosewater which really elevates the sweetness from the nuts.  Lemon zest and juice add a freshness to the cake, cutting through the richness with a tangy zing.

This cake will keep for a week in an air tight container, but I challenge anyone to hold onto it for that long – it never lasts long in our house.  Slice and a cup o’ cha?   Now you’re talking brother!

Pistachio cake


250g unsalted soft butter

225g caster sugar

grated zest of 1 lemon

2tbsp Rosewater

4 eggs

100g ground almonds

100g ground pistachios

50g plain flour

1tsp baking powder


The topping:

50g pistachios

50g caster sugar

Grated zest and juice from one lemon


Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, then butter and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Mix in the lemon zest and rosewater.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.

Then fold in the ground almonds, pistachios, sifted flour, baking powder and salt.

Pour the cake mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for about 40 minutes, until a knife can be inserted into the cake and comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool in the tin.

To make the ‘syrupy’ topping, heat the pistachios, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a pan and drizzle over the cake.

Ground almonds and pistachios

Cake mix

Fresh out of the oven

Pistachio syrup topping


About The Pickled Quince

I'm a Belfast native, living in Dublin who is passionate about good food, wine and beer, and all the excellent produce that Ireland has to offer. View all posts by The Pickled Quince

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