My earliest memories of pistachios were my fingers stained red from the shells and my lips all blistering from the saltiness of the nuts. Bowls of empty shells scattered the apartment and we were dizzy from the smoky nut and its rich flavor. Never did I consider eating a cake filled with them, and who knew the nuts could sometimes be green?
One of the lessons learned from reading Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life is this: if you’re baking a new recipe, follow the recipe to the letter — don’t edit, don’t alter, don’t tinker — until you’ve perfected the basics. Believe when I say that I spent the greater part of this weekend attempting to re-tool new recipes (donuts, cakes and the like) using coconut flour, to which I can attest was a complete and epic failure. I’ve never seen so much dough in a garbage bin, and if it weren’t for the success of the meatballs, I would have embarked on a rage rampage.
But I digress.
As I mentioned previously, Molly’s book was a delight, and one of the closing recipes harkened back to my days on the couch, face-full of shells. In Molly’s version, you’ll find apricots nestled deep in the cake, as well as oodles of milk. While I tried desperately to stick to the original recipe, I did make some minor tweaks (I could never color in the lines), and the result was FANTASTIC. I plan to make this a few more times before I start alterations.
However, if you want a crowd-pleasing cake, look no further than this sumptuous pistachio cake. It’s light, luscious and the nuts balance out the sweetness.
INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life, with slight modifications
3/4 cup shelled, raw pistachios
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup cane sugar
3 large eggs
powdered sugar, for dusting
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round pan, generously. I ran out of parchment paper so I made sure to grease the sides (I use coconut spray, but feel free to use what gets the job done), and prayed for the best.
In the bowl of a food processor, blitz the pistachios until the resemble fine sand. Imagine yourself in Fiji rather than the hot kitchen that is yours in New York City. Add the flour, nutmeg, baking powder, salt and pulse to mix. Turn out the mixture into a medium bowl and ensure all of the ingredients are incorporated.
In a small bowl, combine the coconut milk and vanilla.
In a large bowl (or in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment), beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (2 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, mixing at low speed to just combine. LET US PAUSE HERE, SHALL WE? Felicia 1.0 used to just dump the dry batter into the wet and then I’d find myself a pitiful mess as I turned out loaves that resembled Grecian disks. Listen to me when I tell you that you’ve got to go low and slow on this one, as it’ll yield a moist dough.
Pour the batter into a cake pan. Using a spatula, smooth to ensure that the dough is evenly distributed. And DO NOT BE LIKE ME AND LIKE THE SPATULA LIKE A FOOL.
Bake the cake for 25-35 minutes. I would start checking at 25 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the side of the pan. Cool the cake on a rack for two minutes, and run around the side of the pan using a thin knife.
Add a dusting of powdered sugar and serve with blueberry jam and hot tea. LOVE.