Sunday, 9 March 2014

Pistachio Cake

Pistachios are extremely versatile and like most nuts can be used in a range of both sweet and savoury dishes. I love them. With their fresh, pale green colour, beautiful sweetness and distinctive taste, they add something unique to the dishes in which they are used.

This is a really simple cake that can be served at room temperature to be enjoyed with a large mug of tea or slightly warmed with a scoop of ice-cream or a dollop of whipped cream and some poached fruits on the side, as a dessert. I have served it here with some fresh segmented oranges and some pomegranate seeds on the side. The fruits really complement the cake and when eaten with some softly whipped cream, it truly makes an elegant but delicious dessert.
 
If you like you can use blanched and skinned pistachios, but they can be difficult to get your hands on and believe me, it is a thankless task to do it yourself. That said, there is no denying that the resulting pale green colour that skinned nuts lend to the finished cake is extremely attractive. To be honest, I tend to buy the nuts and process them to a fairly finely ground powder myself, but don’t bother with skinning them as it makes little difference to the end taste of the cake.
 
I have always loved the combination of orange and pistachio, so I have included finely grated orange zest, but if you would prefer, you can use lemon zest instead. When I don’t have oranges to hand, I sometimes use a little orange-flower water instead and this really gives the cake an air of the exotic.
This is a beautiful, moist and simply a very tasty cake and I urge you to try making it if you get the chance.
 

Ingredients:

100g shelled pistachios
4 eggs
175g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
150g pot plain yoghurt
75ml melted butter
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4. Butter a 24cm round spring-form tin and line with non-stick baking parchment and set aside.
2. Grind the pistachios fairly finely in a food processor, but do not over process or they will become oily.
3. Put the eggs in a large mixing bowl with the caster sugar and orange zest and using a hand-held electric mixer, beat together until pale and creamy and almost doubled in volume. Gently mix in the yoghurt and the melted butter. Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold into the egg mixture along with the ground pistachios.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes approximately or until the cake is well risen and golden brown and a thin skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
5. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes and then turn out and allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
6. Serve dusted with icing sugar.

Serves 8-10.