pistachio cake with orange segments
Let’s talk about the other night. Something happened. Maybe it was the wine. Maybe the company, maybe both. One thing is clear, my usual restraint failed me. No, it’s nothing like that. It was dessert. DESSERT!!! A simple pistachio cake scented with orange zest. It had a tender, moist crumb. There were flecks of subtle green from the ground pistachios. The orange segments made a perfect partner. It was sublime. It was GONE. Gone in about 10 minutes.
The evening started out well with a few dinner guests joining us. We sipped a little wine, grilled some chicken, crunched green beans, munched bruschetta with basil and walnut pesto and tomatoes. There was music and lively conversation, a few laughs and then some cake. CAKE. Picture the scene. Five of us — each with a sweet wedge dusted with powdered sugar and glistening with fresh orange segments. One bite. Two. Bigger bite. Gone. Maybe just a sliver more. Or two. Are there any oranges left? Then a frenzy of forks jostling for the remains on the cake plate. No more.
What I’m saying is that pistachios should be at the top of your grocery list. This cake is too good not to have this weekend (with a cup of coffee or tea – no wine – lest you succumb to the same fate as I). Seriously, make this. Eat this. You won’t be sorry.
Here’s why you’ll like it: It isn’t involved. There isn’t a huge time commitment. you won’t be making several layers, letting them cool, splitting them in half and frosting them layer by layer, assembling as you go. Heck, you don’t have to make frosting at all. No. It’s a single 9-inch cake. Adorn it with whipped cream, ice cream, or powdered sugar. Or don’t. It’s yummy either way. I didn’t make a single change to this recipe other than to segment the oranges that I’d already zested for the batter and serve them with the cake.
Speaking of the recipe, I’m not taking credit for this one. I’m spreading the word. I found this on epicurious.com by chef Rick Tramonto. However, it did get me thinking – could I do this with cashews? Peanuts? Brazil nuts? Pecans? Hmmm. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m making this again — so should you.
- 3/4 cup unsalted shelled pistachios (about 4 ounces -- not dyed red)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 3 medium oranges, zested (2 Tablespoons) and segmented
- powdered sugar
- whipped cream
- ice cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trace the circumference of a 9" round cake pan on a piece of parchment paper and cut out the circle. Spray the pan with vegetable spray. Lay the parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and spray again. Set aside.
- Using food processor (I used my 3 cup mini-prep), pulse pistachios until finely ground, about 40 seconds. Don't over-process or you'll get a nut butter.
- Add flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt and pulse a few times to combine.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (1 1/2-2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and alternate adding pistachio mixture and milk -- beginning and ending with pistachio mixture and beating just enough to combine. Add orange zest and vanilla and beat just to combine.
- Spread batter evenly in a pan and bake until wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean -- about 30-40 minutes.
- While cake is baking segment oranges and set aside in a small bowl.
- Cool in pan and on rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around cake to loosen from pan and invert onto rack. Peel off parchment paper.
- Can be served warm or room temperature. Serve a spoonful of orange segments alongside a slice of cake with any additional garnish you like!