Saturday, 28 August 2010

Pistachio and Orange Blossom Cake

When I saw this cake in Bake & Decorate, it was only a matter of time before I set to with a gusto and a wooden spoon.  The cake sounded so delicious and really interesting with the combination of those delicate flavours.  It just needed a bit of time to get hold of some  pistachios.  As I'm now addicted to using yogurt in my cakes and have been lucky enough to receive another fridge load of TOTAL Greek yogurt, some of that was going in no matter what.  As I was hoping for the green of the pistachios to come out in the cake, I used caster sugar rather than my normal dark brown.  I also had some green tea and white chocolate ganache left over from the green tea cupcakes I'd made the previous week and it needed using up.  I thus decided to use this rather than the mascarpone and orange topping described in the book - although this did sound rather good.

This is what I did:
  • Roasted 100g pistachios (unsalted) in the oven at 180C for about 5 mins.  Left to cool then ground in a coffee grinder.
  • Creamed 150g unsalted butter together with 180g caster sugar and the finely grated zest of an orange until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 4 duck eggs.
  • Sifted in 70g flour (50g white spelt and 20g coconut), 1.5 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt.
  • Mixed in 2 tbsp TOTAL Greek yogurt.
  • Folded in the pistachios, 70g ground almonds and 2 tsp orange flower water.
  • Spooned into a 21 cm cake thingie and baked for 35 mins at 180C (gas4).
  • Meanwhile simmered the juice from the orange with 20g granulated sugar for about 5 minutes until syrupy.  Allowed to cool a little then added 1 tbsp orange flour water.
  • Pricked cake all over with a cocktail stick as soon as it was out of the oven and poured syrup over.
  • Left to cool, then spread the white chocolate and green tea topping over the cake.
  • Scattered a few coarsly ground pistachios over the top.
I was really pleased with the result and thought it quite delicious as well as unusual.  It wasn't as green as I'd hoped, but the sponge was dense and moist with a pleasant firmness.  It had a Middle Eastern quality that reminded me of my days in Egypt, although Levantine confections are usually much sweeter.  Rather unexpectedly, I thought the green tea topping worked well with the pistachio and orange blossom as all were quite subtle flavours.  I keep hearing about the wonders of mascarpone so I will be using it next time.  CT reckoned it was the nearest thing to pistachio kulfi in cake form.  That is a compliment indeed as he loves pistachio kulfi.  He also said, tucking into his third slice, that you would be hard pressed to buy a cake this good - luckily he doesn't have to.

I am going to have to go cold turkey on the blogging front as I'm just off to Ghent in Belgium for a week.  This is another work conference, but as I don't really know Belgium at all I am taking the opportunity to stay an extra couple of days to explore Ghent.  Unusually, CT is accompanying me as one of his root friends lives nearby and he can enjoy comparing notes and swapping seeds and tubers.  Thanks to VegBoxBoy I go armed with a list of chocolatiers to visit whilst I'm there, so my withdrawal symptoms shouldn't be too severe.  I've also been advised not to miss out on the famous Belgian beer whilst we're there.  Look forward to catching up when I get back.


  1. This cake looks delicious - what a lovely mix of subtle flavours you've used.

    I always find pistachios are never as green as you expect when used in baking, so I've reluctantly resorted to adding a little green colouring where the colour really matters - say in a marble cake.

  2. What a lovely and delicious looking cake. I love the use of the yogurt as I can imagine that added to the moistness. The oozing icing grabbed my attention!

  3. Your cake looks and sounds delicious.

    Bon Voyage - have a lovely trip :-}

  4. Ooh, it would be so fragrant and delicious with pistachios and moist with yoghurt too.

    Have a great trip :)

  5. I made that cake too and mine was nothing like as appetising, I think the colour comes out really well actually - too green might be alarming
    Enjoy Ghent, one of my old consultants was from there and was always urging us to go, frustrated by the British obsession with Bruges
    Happy chocolatiering

  6. that sounds yummy! and looks like a wonderful baking book.. I will be looking for :)

  7. looks so good choclete... need a slice now! Bon Voyage my dear... x

  8. Love the colour of the pistachio's. The cookbook is addictive isn't it - lovely though ;0)

  9. Anything that reminds you of pistachio kulfi get my vote...Enjoy Ghent, drink chocolate in the square, listen to the carillions, then bring us back the good news.

  10. It looks full of sunshine goodness. I am lazy about pistachios - buy a bag, think you have loads, shell them and be disappointed!

    I am already dying to read about your adventure in Ghent!

  11. loved the frosting over the cake...looks so yummy

  12. I think the colour is absolutely beautiful! Have a great time in Belgium!

  13. I will sure attempt baking this..looks so u think It'll still be fine if I used normal yoghurt? x

  14. Pretty cake, loved ur 2nd pic...and pistachios are my new found love...yogurt in the cakes, i should try :)

  15. Very, very interesting flavour combo there. Absolutely divine! Enjoy your trip!

  16. Have a wonderful time in Belgium! That cake looks delicious, and if it tastes like pistachio kulfi it can't go wrong. 3 pieces is definitely testament to it being delicious, and mascarpone- I would be surprised if you didn't love it :-)

  17. Oh how beautiful! I think every time you see a really green pistachio product it has had help. Have a lovely time in Belgium.

  18. yummy! what a delicious recipe! I want to take it tasty! :)

  19. I love pistachios and also orange flower water and so would certainly love to tuck into a slice of this delicious cake.

  20. yummy! looks like so tasty! I'll try to make it soon.

  21. I want to bake with pistachio - did you method get rid of the skin that they have on them?

  22. Cake looks great. Despite being in Ghent for work, hopefully you'll make more of your visit there and come back to showcase some of your choccy adventures.

  23. I have not baked with pistachios..but this cake sounds so good..I maybe trying it.

  24. Suelle - I remember you saying you were a bit disappointed with the colour of pistachios in a cake, so I wasn't expecting too much.

    Bridgett - I've become a real fan of using yogurt in a cake, it certainly helps to keep it moist, but also to rise I think.

    BVG and Emma - thank you both. The trip was a good one - I'll be posting about it soon.

    Oxslip - I'm so behind in everything, must check out your blog soon and see if you posted about this cake. Ghent is indeed an amazing city, though I didn't see Bruges to compare it too - from what I've heard it's more "real" than Bruges.

    Astheroshe - it's a very tempting book.

    Thanks Dom - think I could do with a slice now. The Belgians do wonderful chocolate, but they don't do cake. Luckily the voyage went well with no hitches, other than being repeatedly searched at customs as they were convinced I had a knife!

    Chele - oh, what have you made from the book?

    Liz - thanks. Did all of what you said, though still have the good news to write up about.

    Gillian - don't be silly, I buy pistachios ready shelled. Will be posting about chocolate adventures soon.

    Sushma - thank you.

    Celia, thank you. The rather muted green grew on me as the days past.

    Moon Smile - I'm sure normal yogurt would be fine - do try it and let me know if it works.

    Ananda - thank you. I love pistachios too. Do give yogurt a try, I find it works really well.

    Hazel, thank you. It was a good combination, but subtle.

    CityHippy - thank you. I did have a good time in Belgium and yes I'm sure I will love that mascapone as soon as I get around to trying it.

    Foodycat - thank you for the reassurance. I just like gaudy really, but also not a fan of artificial food colourings.

    Best Hamburger and Easy Picnic - thank you

    Margaret - two flavours that went very well together.

    CC - not aware that the skins are particularly tough. I certainly didn't do anything with them, but did buy them ready shelled.

    MangoCheeks - had a good time in Ghent despite the work element and will be posting about it soon.

    Jannett - thank you. Let me know if you do try it out.

  25. It occured to me after posting on your blog that the city of Ghent has started an initiative called 'Meat Free Mondays'. Did you see any sign of this?

  26. MangoCheeks - Ghent is an excellent place for vegetarians - not meat free Mondays but vegetarian Thursdays. Have said more about this in my post which should be up some time tonight.

  27. I feel like it is a reflection of my love of chocolate when I look at this recipe and think how good it would be with a handful of choc chips added to the mixture - am sure you would empathise - though am also sure it would taste delicious without choc chips

  28. Johanna - oh dear sorry to mislead you by having a non-chocolate cake on my blog (topping excluded). Just occasionally, it's nice to make a cake without chocolate in it. But you are right, I'm sure it would be really good with some chocolate in too - think it would have to be white though.

  29. I love orange blossom water, I have never used spelt but have some in the cupboard, your recipe is certainly tempting me to break it out!

  30. what a scrummy looking cake. Has started me thinking about why I don't use pistachios more. Haven't come up with a plausible answer so shall be adding them to my shopping list instead!

  31. Peacepudding - I often use spelt in my cakes, it works really well I find.

    Nic - plausible answer could be that they are quite expensive, but definitely good to use as an occasional treat.


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