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    Moist Pistachio Cake Recipe

    This super moist and flavorful pistachio cake recipe uses real pistachios (that’s right – no pudding or cake mixes involved!) to create a truly memorable cake that is full of nutty, rich, pistachio flavor. It’s topped with a not-too-sweet pistachio cream cheese frosting that adds a wonderful creamy element to the cake. One word – delicious!!

    Pistachio Cake

    What is pistachio cake made of?

    There are two key ingredients that distinguish a from-scratch pistachio cake from a regular vanilla cake (or pistachio pudding cake that uses something like an instant pistachio pudding mix) and that is real pistachios and almond flavoring (in either the form of an extract or essence).

    The base for this pistachio cake recipe is my very popular vanilla cake recipe. It has the most amazing velvety texture, so knew it would be perfect for this recipe! I then amended it by adding in crushed pistachios and some almond flavoring.

    For the buttercream frosting, I tried two versions – one with cream cheese and one without. The cream cheese version definitely added another level of flavor and creaminess to the final cake, so it was a no brainer to go with the cream cheese version!

    Many pistachio cake recipes pair pistachio cake with a simple vanilla buttercream, so you could totally use my silky smooth buttercream recipe or Swiss meringue buttercream too.

    What flavors pair well with pistachio cake?

    Pistachios have a unique flavor profile that blends nuttiness with a hint of sweetness and a touch of earthiness. When considering flavors that pair well with pistachios, or in particular a pistachio cake (although I do feel this cake goes just perfect on it’s own!), it’s important to complement rather than overpower their delicate taste.

    Some condiments or sides to consider could include citrus options (like my lemon curd recipe), simple flavored ice creams like vanilla, or toppings that have spices in them like cardamom or even saffron. Pistachios go well with chocolate too, so even a little drizzle of dark chocolate ganache would work! It is best to trial these out though, and see what your personal preferences are 🙂

    How to make pistachio cake

    Preheat oven to 180 °C (350°F) and grease and/or line two 8 inch cake tins (I use my homemade cake release). If using a fan function (also known as convection mode) then you will need to reduce the temperature to 160C (320F).

    pistachio cake

    Add pistachios to a food processer, and process until they become fine crumbs. You don’t want the pistachios to be too fine (like a powder), but you don’t want large chuncks either. Process them until they’re a bread crumb consistency with a few small chunks in them (see video for visual).  Once done, set aside for now.

    In a bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Using a whisk or fork, mix until well combined. Set aside.

    pistachio cake

    In a large mixing bowl, add in butter, vegetable oil and sugar. Using an electric mixer (hand or stand mixer are both fine), cream together for 2 minutes until light and creamy.

    Add in eggs one by one, mixing well in between each addition (about 10-15 seconds between eggs).

    pistachio cake

    Add in vanilla, vinegar and half of the total quantity of buttermilk, and mix until well combined. Now set your mixer aside as the remainder of the batter will be finished by hand.

    Add half of your flour mixture to your wet ingredients, and gently fold it in with a spatula until just combined. Then add in the remaining buttermilk, and fold it in until just combined. Lastly, add in the remaining dry ingredients and gently fold it into the mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.

    pistachio cake

    pistachio cake

    Finish off by adding in the crushed pistachios, and a few scant drops of green coloring (if using gel colours then use less – you only want a pastel green color), and fold with a spatula until just combined. Add more coloring if needed, but try not to overmix the batter.

    pistachio cake

    Pour the batter evenly into the two 8 inch cake tins, and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs on it.

    Once baked, allow the cake layers to cool in the cake pans for about 15-20 minutes, and then turn them out onto a wire rack to completely cool before frosting with the pistachio cream cheese recipe below.

    pistachio cake

    Pistachio Cream Cheese Frosting

    In a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer if using one), add in butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract/essence, almond extract/essence and cream.

    Mix on a low speed until the ingredients are combined (about a minute), and then turn up the speed to a medium high and mix for a full 10 minutes. You want to scrape down the bowl half way through just to make sure everything is mixed well. If using a stand mixer then use the paddle attachment.

    pistachio cream cheese frosting

    Once finished, add in the cream cheese and crushed pistachios and mix until well combined. Avoid overmixing. Finish off by adding in a few scant drops of green food coloring (if using gel colours then use less – you only want a pastel green color).

    pistachio cream cheese frosting

     

    The frosting should be silky smooth and it’s now ready to use!

    If you find that your frosting is a bit firm and has a lot of air bubbles, then it means that either the butter or cream during the initial 10 minutes of mixing was too cold. To fix this, gently heat the buttercream in the microwave for 5 second bursts (don’t heat it for too long otherwise the buttercream will melt), mixing in between each burst until the frosting is softer in consistency and you can easily mix it, and then re-whip it for a few minutes. If your frosting is too soft, simply pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes, and then re-whip it.

    How to decorate pistachio cake

    There are so many wonderful ways you could decorate a pistachio cake, but here is how I decorated mine 🙂

    So to start off I levelled off the tops of my cake layers so that they were nice and flat. This helps prevent your cake layers from sliding around once you come to stacking your cake.

    I also trimmed off the caramelised edges of the cake layers. This step isn’t necessary though – I just wanted the perfect thumbnail (haha!), so you can skip it if you want 🙂

    I then went ahead and placed my first cake layer in the middle of a cake stand and smoothed out some frosting on the top with my offset spatula.

    pistachio cake

    I then placed the next cake layer on top, and again smoothed out some frosting on top and sides of the cake, so that the cake was completely covered. I didn’t bother doing a crumb coat (check out this video for more info on what a crumb coat is), but you can do one if you prefer. I then used my cake scraper to smooth out the sides.

    Now when you scrape the sides of a cake, you usually end up with a lip of frosting around the top edges. To get rid of these and get a ‘sharp edge’ on the top, slowly bring your offset spatula into the middle of the cake, catching that lip of frosting as you go.

    pistachio cake

     

    I then finished off by doing some piping around the top edges using a 1A piping tip.

    pistachio cake

     

    And that’s it! The cake is now ready to serve. Enjoy!

    How to Store Pistachio Cake

    This cake can be left at room temperature for the day, however overnight it will need to be refrigerated due to the cream cheese in the frosting. The fat and sugar in the frosting will prevent the cream cheese from going off, which is why you can keep it out at room temperature for an extended period of time.

    When storing, place it into an airtight container, and into the refrigerator. Allow it to come to room temperature before serving.

    Pistachio Cake

    Moist Pistachio Cake Recipe

    This super moist and flavorful pistachio cake recipe uses real pistachios (that's right - no pudding mixes involved!) to create a truly memorable cake that is full of nutty, rich, pistachio flavor. It's topped with a not-too-sweet pistachio cream cheese frosting that adds a wonderful creamy element to the cake. One word - delicious!!
    5 from 21 votes
    Print Pin Rate Watch Video
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes
    Cool Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
    Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
    Servings: 12 people

    IMPORTANT: For accuracy, I would recommend using the gram measurements provided as those are the exact quantities I use. Cup measurements are given as estimates (based on US cup measurements) to make it easier for those who do not have a scale.

    Ingredients
     

    Pistachio Cake

    • cups (175 g) pistachios - raw, unsalted
    • 2⅓ cups (300 g) flour - regular all purpose (see note 1 if you want to use cake flour)
    • ¼ cup (25 g) cornstarch
    • ½ tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp salt - omit if using salted butter
    • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter - room temperature
    • ½ cup (105 g) unflavoured vegetable oil - I use canola
    • 1⅔ cups (332 g) white granulated sugar
    • 3 large eggs - room temperature
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract/essence
    • ½ tsp almond extract/essence
    • 1 tsp white vinegar
    • cups (336 g) buttermilk - room temperature, see note 5 if using a homemade buttermilk substitute
    • Few drops green food coloring (optional) - gel and liquid are both fine as you only use a small amount

    Pistachio Cream Cheese Frosting

    • cups (340 g) unsalted butter - room temperature
    • 3 cups (375 g) powdered sugar - also known as icing sugar/confectioners sugar
    • tsp vanilla extract/essence
    • ½ tsp almond extract/essence
    • ½ cup (120 g) whipping or heavy cream - room temperature
    • ½ cup (112 g) cream cheese - cold, use a firm cream cheese (not a spreadable one)
    • ½ cup (70 g) pistachios - unsalted, processed into fine crumbs
    • Few drops green food coloring (optional) - gel and liquid are both fine as you only use a small amount

    Instructions

    • IMPORTANT: For this recipe I would highly recommend using gram measurements, especially for the flour for accurate results. It has a high fat/liquid ratio so slight adjustments to the quantities can throw off the balance of the cake 🙂

    Pistachio Cake

    • Preheat oven to 180 °C (350°F) (see note 4 if using a fan function) and grease and/or line two 8 inch cake tins (I use my homemade cake release).
    • Add your pistachios to a food processer, and process until they become fine crumbs (see note 6). Once done, set aside for now.
    • In a bowl, sift together your flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Using a whisk or fork, mix until well combined. Set aside.
    • In another bowl, add in butter, vegetable oil and sugar. Using an electric mixer (hand or stand mixer are both fine - see note 2), cream together for 2 minutes until light and creamy.
    • Add in eggs one by one, mixing well in between each addition (about 10-15 seconds between eggs).
    • Add in your vanilla, vinegar and half of the buttermilk, and mix until well combined. Now set your mixer aside as the remainder of the batter will be finished by hand.
    • Add half of your premixed dry ingredients to your wet mixture, and gently fold it in with a spatula until just combined. Then add in the remaining buttermilk, and fold it in until just combined. Lastly, add in the remaining dry ingredients and gently fold it into the mixture until just combined. Do not overmix (see note 3).
    • Finish off by adding in the crushed pistachios, and a few scant drops of green coloring (if using gel colours then use less - you only want a pastel green color), and fold with a spatula until just combined. Add more coloring if needed, but try not to overmix the batter.
    • Distribute the batter evenly into the two 8 inch cake tins, and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs on it.
    • Once baked, allow the cake layers to cool in the cake tins for about 15-20 minutes, and then turn them out onto a wire rack to completely cool before frosting with the pistachio cream cheese recipe below.

    Pistachio Cream Cheese Frosting

    • In a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer if using one), add in butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract/essence, almond extract/essence and cream.
    • Mix on the lowest speed until the ingredients are combined (about a minute), and then turn up the speed to a medium high and mix for a full 10 minutes, scraping down the bowl half way through. If using a stand mixer then use the paddle attachment.
    • Once finished, add in the cream cheese and crushed pistachios and mix until well combined. Avoid overmixing. Finish off by adding in a few scant drops of green food coloring (if using gel colours then use less - you only want a pastel green color).
    • The frosting should be silky smooth and it's now ready to use! See note 7 if your frosting isn't fluffy and smooth. For decorating ideas, check out the recipe video or blog post above 🙂

    Video

    YouTube video

    Notes

    Note 1. You can use cake flour in replacement of the all purpose flour and cornstarch in this recipe (325g total required). 
    Note 2. If using a stand mixer, then use the paddle attachment for the initial mixing, but continue to do the last step by hand as stated in the recipe.
    Note 3. By gently folding in the ingredients, it prevents too much gluten from forming, thus giving us a softer cake. Only mix until the strands of flour have disappeared and the batter is uniform. 
    Note 4. In this recipe I use an oven with no fan function. The fan forced function cooks cakes/cupcakes faster, so if using a fan function (also known as convection mode) then you will need to reduce the temperature to 160C (320F). 
    Note 5. I use store bought buttermilk (and is what I recommend for this recipe) which is thicker than a homemade substitute. For this recipe, because it uses a lot of buttermilk, a homemade substitute doesn't give the same results. If you are using a homemade version you will need to reduce the amount of buttermilk to about 1 1/4 cups (275g) - though this still doesn't guarantee that you will get the same results. 
    Note 6. You don't want the pistachios to be too fine (like a powder), but you don't want large chuncks either. Process them until they're a bread crumb consistency with a few small chunks in them (see video for visual).
    Note 7. If you find that your frosting is a bit firm and has a lot of air bubbles, then it means that either the butter or cream during the initial 10 minutes of mixing was too cold. To fix this, gently heat the buttercream in the microwave for 5 second bursts (don't heat it for too long otherwise the buttercream will melt), mixing in between each burst until the frosting is softer in consistency and you can easily mix it, and then re-whip it for a few minutes. If your frosting is too soft, simply pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes, and then re-whip it. 

    Nutrition

    Calories: 907kcal | Carbohydrates: 91g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 57g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 149mg | Sodium: 311mg | Potassium: 333mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 64g | Vitamin A: 1357IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 139mg | Iron: 2mg

    Nutritional information are estimates only as they are automatically calculated by a third party application. Actual values may differ based on brands and types of products used.

    Keyword: cakes with pistachios, green cake, pistachio buttercream, pistachio cake, pistachio cake frosting, pistachio cake recipe, pistachio cake recipes, pistachio cream cheese frosting, pistachio frosting
    Tried this recipe?I love hearing from you! Tag me @cakesbymk.nz on instagram so I can see your amazing creations 🙂

     

     

     

     

     

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    32 Comments

    • SP

      5 stars
      This cake was delicious and with the icing tasted like baskin and Robbin’s ice cream!!!! The cake release worked amazing!!!

      • Cakes by MK

        Awesome! So so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe 😀 and haha yes the cake release is one of my fav baking hacks!! So happy it worked well for you too 🙂

    • Evengiline

      Hi Maryam,
      First of all, thank you for sharing this amazing recipe. I have since baked this cake twice, and a third time is coming soon. I made this cake into cupcakes. The first time I made it was for St Patrick’s Day at work. The second time was for Easter. I shared with my friends and colleagues and the word they used to describe this cake is ‘DIVINE!” I used your silky buttercream recipe instead of the cream cheese frosting. The soft moist and velvety texture of the cake matches the smooth and velvety buttercream. Combined, it creates the melt in the mouth moment. Amazing! I am sharing these two recipes with a colleague. Once again thank you so much! I can hardly wait to make my next pistachio cake!

      • Cakes by MK

        Ohh that is so so wonderful to hear Evengiline! 😀 Sounds like you’re doing an incredible job at executing this recipe! Really appreciate the wonderful feedback 🙂

        • Evengiline

          You’re very welcome, Maryam. Looking forward to more of your wonderful recipes. Happy Eid Mubarak to you and your family!

    • sithana

      Hi
      I’m hoping to make this for Eid but was wondering if I can make this 2 days in advance and refrigerate??

      • Cakes by MK

        Hello Sithana! 😀 You could totally make this cake ahead of time, but I would recommend only making it a day ahead instead of two days, unless you add a little simple syrup to the cake layers 🙂
        When frosting the cake, just make sure the cake layers are completely covered (this will prevent the cake layers from drying out), and when storing in the fridge, keep it away from strong smelling foods. Allow it come to room temp for a few hours before serving on Eid. Enjoy and wishing you a lovely Eid! 🙂

    • Lord Peralta

      5 stars
      Made this cake for an Easter pot luck in my community. LOVED BY ALL. I followed the recipe exactly and it was absolutely delicious. I used 325g of cake flour and omitted the cornstarch.

      The frosting was also delicious and as you indicated, its not too sweet.

      I’ll definitely add this cake into my rotation and I’ll be interested in trying some of your other recipes which are based on the same core recipe.

      • Cakes by MK

        Yay! So so happy to hear everyone loved it and really appreciate the feedback 😀 hope you enjoy the other recipes just as much 🙂

    • V

      What kind of pistachios do you use? Raw or roasted?

      • Cakes by MK

        Hi there! Raw unsalted pistachios 🙂 I’ll update the recipe card to make this more clear. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

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    About me

    Welcome to my blog! My name is Maryam and I LOVE baking! :) I hope to provide you with the tools (i.e. simple, from-scratch, quality tested recipes), so that you can confidently bake up delicious treats to share with your family and friends!

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