This recipe has gone through many iterations (as have I) since I started working it in 2007. It was originally based on recipes from Pierre Hermé and David Everitt-Matthias. It spent some time on and off menus when I was in kitchens and is to date probably my most requested recipe. I like taking the Sicilian approach and pairing with Prickly Pear sorbet, bitter components or something bright and tart to counteract the rich, alkaline nature of the cake. This ratio of butter to olive oil yields a fairly round richness, but you can raise the the EVOO percentage and use a peppery Tuscan or Nuovo oil to yield a much more phenolic and spicy cake. You can have some bitterness at work here too depending on the oil which adds a complex nuance that is really fun to work with. Don't fear bitter - playing with it highly is recommended. You can even take this cake to a salty savory space that could even counterpoint charcuterie. You can even pair nearly dry wines or bubbles all the way to Vin Santo successfully. —Pietro Buttitta
coarse-grain rice flour (like Bob's Red Mill)
unsalted shelled pistachios
pastry or all-purpose flour
Extra virgin olive oil
fine zest of one lemon, lime, and orange
one half lemon
In This Recipe
Butter and flour on 9” springform pan and place on baking sheet. Bake cake at 300F for approximately 70 minutes. Cake will remain soft and a toothpick may not come out completely clean, but it will firmly set. 200F is a good internal temperature target. Use the jiggle test. Do not remove from pan until the cake is completely cool, at least 2 hours time. Please note: this cake can be made gluten free by substituting a different gluten-free flour for the wheat flour.
Combine rice flour, pistachios, flour, baking powder, and salt in food processor and process until a
chef Pietro Buttitta, Sicilian pistachio cake
medium-fine textured crumb appears but still has a little chunky texture. Make sure it isn't overly uniform as this is "rustic" cake.
Mix barely melted unbroken butter with olive oil.
In a mixer whip eggs at medium speed while adding sugar. We don't want to over-inflate them whipping to ribbon stage but the sugar should dissolve with minimal foam. Slowly add the butter/olive oil mixture. Mix well but creating an emulsion is not necessary. Add juice, zest, and then gently fold in pistachio mixture from food processor. Pour into well buttered springform pan and bake as indicated above.
For an easy accompaniment gently simmer sliced peaches or pears with one half bottle of red wine, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 cloves and 1 star anise until syrup consistency. Remove star anise and cloves, spoon cooled fruit mixture and syrup onto plate with a bit of whipped cream.