Pistachio Cake with Lemon, Cardamom, and Rose Water

February 1, 2015


Author Notes: This recipe was adapted slightly from Julie Powell, who adapted it from Nigel Slater, who published it in his book "The Kitchen Diaries." Sarah Jampel

Serves: 10 to 12
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 50 min

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup finely ground salted pistachios
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom (1/2 teaspoon if preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Butter an 8- or 9-inch round baking pan and line it with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the ground pistachios and almond meal and mix to combine. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and rose water and mix well.
  4. Whisk the flour and cardamom together in a small bowl. (If you have used unsalted pistachios, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt at this stage.) Then use a rubber spatula to gently fold this dry mixture into the wet butter and egg mixture. Be careful not to overmix.
  5. Transfer the mixture into the prepared cake pan, spread it out evenly, then bake for 40 minutes. Tent the top of the cake with aluminum foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the sides are starting to brown, a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, and the cake is no longer wet-looking or sticky. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan for several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the icing, whisk together the lemon juice and confectioners' sugar. Pour this over the cooled cake, then wait for at least 30 minutes for the icing to set before slicing and serving.

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Reviews (90) Questions (0)

90 Reviews

melissa July 30, 2018
Made this cake last night for my dad's birthday. It was excellent! Followed the recipe as was but replaced meyer with regular lemons, upped the rose water a wee bit and ground granulated sugar in a food processor to get the superfine sugar. Came out so lovely. It's even better with coffee this morning. :) Would be perfect for an afternoon tea. It's delicate so if you like a bolder flavor, I wouldn't be shy with the lemon, rose water, and/or cardamon. To decorate, I sprinkled some of the left over pistachio meal and added a thin ribbon of lemon rind. Enjoy!
 
pbf April 23, 2016
I never buy salted butter. I love the fresh sweet taste of unsalted butter and when I cook with it I like to be able to control how much salt I want. In a recipe that calls for salted butter I just add a bit of salt to the mix. <br /><br />On a separate note, I just made this cake for the Seder last night and I substituted matzoh meal/matzoh cake meal (half and half) for the amount of flour. It tested done -- but still moist -- after 40 minutes with the sides nicely browned. I added much more Meyer lemon juice to the glaze and didn't wait for the cake to cool before adding the glaze because I wanted it to soak in a bit to make sure the cake would be moist. It cut beautifully and was a hit at the Seder. This is indeed a good recipe.
 
neighome April 23, 2016
Salted butter? Unsalted? What have people been using?
 
Suzie April 8, 2016
I made this cake for a meeting. It turned out beautifully, and everyone wanted the recipe. I am making it again for my book club. I did sprinkle toasted almonds on top and a bit of lemon zest....very pretty...I am wondering.....will this cake freeze well? Would be great to have one made up ahead of time.
 
Stephanie S. April 6, 2016
I have made this cake twice now, both with very tasty results.<br /><br />I personally did not enjoy the texture of the purchased almond meal, so I set it through a fine mesh to get the finer bits for my cake. To me this improved its mouth feel.<br />Highly, highly suggest adding just a bit of blood orange juice with your lemon juice for the icing. It will produce a pink icing to compliment the green cake.<br />A bit of yogurt was also pretty darn good in here (about a half cup)<br />Thank you for the recipe, I'll be breaking it out every Easter for its spring time color scheme!
 
Andrea Y. February 11, 2016
This is one of those recipes that I've had saved for awhile and I want to make it but (you knew there was a big but coming), it will be expensive. Although I have a fairly well-stocked kitchen, I'll have to buy superfine sugar (I have granulated, powdered, and turbinado, but not superfine), almond meal (I have 8 kinds of flour on hand, but not almond flour), meyer lemons (I have standard lemons, but not meyer lemons), cardamom (I have probably 40 spices on hand, but not cardamom), and pistachios (I have walnuts and pecans on hand, but not pistachios). I just happen to have rose water on hand. And nuts are never cheap. I will probably spend $25 at least on this cake; more when I go to the gourmet grocery hoping they have all these not quite standard ingredients. And finely ground pistachios? I will admit that I don't have an eye for this, but is that 2 cups of whole pistachios? 1.5 cups? 4 cups? I wish it would give the measurements (especially for ground items) in weight rather than volume. As in, "6.5 oz (or grams) of pistachios, finely ground." I will probably table this recipe again because just getting the ingredients sounds too complicated today....
 
Chris V. February 16, 2016
Hi Andrea,<br />You can easily substitute regular gran. sugar for the superfine sugar (if you want to replicate the texture you can just process sugar for a few pulses in a food processor or blender), and regular lemons for Meyer lemons. You can eliminate the cardamom or replace with vanilla (not the same taste, but it will work). If getting pistachios is an issue you replace with nuts of your choice. Almond meal creates a wonderful texture in cakes so if you bake often it's good to have on hand. But at the end of the day you decide what your shopping budget is, and if you can't get key ingredients then it's your right to make something else.
 
tilo July 13, 2015
I simply loved the recipe,the flavors and texture are very unique. Everybody loved it.
 
MB June 26, 2015
Can I reduce the butter in this recipe and replace it with half applesauce or yogurt?
 
radovanovic.rade June 4, 2015
Hi! Please, can we get the rose water recipe since I cannot find to buy it here? Thanks!<br />
 
pbf June 4, 2015
Rose water is very difficult to make and requires a huge amount of rose petals which have no pesticides or other chemicals on them. That is why it is so expensive for such a small bottle. However, it is also very strong so you only use a few drops of it in a recipe, so it isn't all that expensive in the long run. I suggest you try Amazon or some other web site.
 
Sophia H. July 2, 2015
Try ordering it on line, many Mediterranean and or finer baking supply places should have it.
 
Amy S. May 9, 2015
This is an awesome recipe that takes kindly to modifications. I used a regular lemon and because I had lavender simple syrup on hand, substituted that for the rose water. I also added a little of the simple syrup to the glaze to intensify the lavender flavor. I put the batter in tiny springforms and just watched it carefully-- it yielded a dense yet pleasantly tender and flavorful cake that stayed just as moist the next day. Definitely going to put this in my regular baking rotation!
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. May 16, 2015
So glad you love it, Amy!
 
olive April 27, 2015
does anyone know is there really no baking powder in this cake? it must not rise very much? is it a very shallow cake? thanks!
 
Skilletlicker April 27, 2015
Yes it's shallow-ish and it's FANTASTIC!!! A very sophisticated dessert.
 
Ginny April 5, 2015
I made this cake today for Easter. As always, I followed the recipe to the letter. I am no novice to baking, so this is not unchartered waters. :) However, the rose water was so pronounced and the lemon on the icing was so bitter, the cake was not quite what I expected. Deeply disappointed. i wonder what went wrong.
 
Jennifer W. March 28, 2015
I'm new to baking so..do you really need a standup mixer for this cake? can i use my handheld and my arm muscles? Thanks!
 
Karen F. March 19, 2015
Made this for a friend's birthday. So beautiful, and turned out perfect! Will wait to hear how it tasted, but it was a show stopper to present.
 
Skilletlicker March 8, 2015
This cake is fantastic. I made it last week. I didn't have Meyer lemons so I just used regular lemons. I will definitely make again. A lot.
 
Annie S. March 8, 2015
Janet I used dry roasted shelled pistachios from TraderJoe.
 
Janet P. March 8, 2015
Should this cake recipe be made with raw or roasted pistachios. Thanks.
 
reub February 26, 2015
Made as well - stayed to recipe accurately. Certainly a crowd pleaser and to answer my earlier question, it stayed edible and tender with no noticeable degradation in tender just wrapped in plastic on the counter for over a week.
 
Wendy L. February 26, 2015
I made this for a dinner party this month—lovelove. Has a texture mimicking pound cake, love the subtle unique flavors of cardamom & rosewater, both of which I slightly reduced. We carved away at the leftovers for breakfast over the next week. A really great cake!
 
Annie S. February 26, 2015
I made this cake and we devoured it! It was truly a joy to make and to eat. The texture was wonderful. I put a link to this recipe on my Facebook page. I think this could make a lovely wedding cake.
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. February 26, 2015
So glad to hear you liked it!