In cakes, I am relaxed about sugar and fat, as long as I don’t eat them every day. Even so, there are good cakes and there are bad ones. In my unscientific view, cakes made with ground nuts are always good – not only do they taste great, all moist and chewy, but they stay fresh for longer, too. This one uses unrefined brown sugar and spelt flour (though you could try other wheat varieties). The deep pistachio shade is stunning, as is the combination of white chocolate, cardamom and lemon.
A deliciously chewy, citrus-topped pistachio cake spiked with cardamom and white chocolate chunks.
Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr
250 unsalted butter, softened
200g soft brown sugar
220g shelled pistachios
10 cardamom pods
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 lemons, zested
200g white spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
100g white chocolate, roughly chopped
For the lemon icing
200g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4, and grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
Cream the butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer until light, fluffy and pale.
In a food processor, pulse 200g of the pistachios to a fine flour (don’t over-process or they’ll turn to a paste). Meanwhile, crush the cardamon pods in a mortar, remove the outer kernels and finely grind the seeds.
Beat the vanilla, the zest of two of the lemons and the ground pistachios into the butter, then add the juice of one of the lemons.
Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Fold in the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom with a large metal spoon, mixing everything gently and briefly. Stir in the chocolate, then transfer to the lined tin.
Bake for 50 minutes, covering with foil about halfway through so the top doesn’t brown too much.
While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Beat the cheeses in a bowl, stir in the juice of another lemon, then sift in the icing sugar. Add more lemon juice from the third lemon,to taste.
Spread the mascarpone icing over top of the cooled cake. Roughly chop the remaining pistachios and sprinkle them over the cake along with the last of the lemon zest. This cake will keep in an airtight container for four to five days.
To make the cake vegan, use aquafaba or chia seeds instead of the eggs and olive or vegetable oil instead of the butter. And make a lemon drizzle as a replacement for the cheese icing.