Pistachio Cake Recipe

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik.]

While this cake comes together in just a few minutes, making it one of the fastest and easiest recipes around, it does require one very special ingredient: roasted pistachio oil. It’s the sole source of flavor and aroma for the cake, so use the best you can find. The result will be a cake that’s moist and flavorful enough to stand on its own with nothing more than a dusting of powdered sugar, but a frosting of homemade pistachio cream will take the pistachio confection to the next level.

Why It Works

  • High-quality roasted pistachio oil ensures a cake that is rich, flavorful, and moist.
  • The thick texture of buttermilk provides structure to the batter, for a cake that’s tangy and light.
  • The subtle aroma of orange zest and orange flower water amplify the inherent aromas of the pistachio oil, without making the cake seem citrusy at all.
  • Yield:One 8-inch cake, or 8 large wedges
  • Active time:About 5 minutes
  • Total time:About 45 minutes
  • Ingredients

    • 5 1/4 ounces white sugar (about 3/4 cup; 150g), plain or lightly toasted
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon (1g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
    • 5 1/4 ounces best-quality roasted pistachio oil (about 3/4 cup; 150g), such as La Tourangelle
    • 4 ounces cultured low-fat buttermilk or kefir (about 1/2 cup; 110g); see our explainer on buttermilk substitutes for more information
    • 1 large egg (about 1 3/4 ounces; 50g), straight from the fridge
    • 1/2 teaspoon orange flower water
    • 5 3/4 ounces (165g) cake flour, any style (see note)
    • Optional garnishes: powdered sugar, preferably organic (see our explainer on organic powdered sugar for more information); homemade pistachio cream; or toasted pistachios


    1. 1.

      Getting Ready: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Line an 8- by 3-inch anodized aluminum cake pan with parchment (see our explanation and tutorial on how to cut a parchment round) and grease lightly with pan spray.

    2. 2.

      For the Cake: Whisk sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl for about 1 minute. This dry mixture will look homogeneous well before it truly is, so use patience at this stage and whisk longer than may seem necessary. Under-mixing at this stage can produce dark spots or an uneven texture in the cake.

    3. 3.

      Add orange zest, roasted pistachio oil, buttermilk, egg, and orange flower water and whisk vigorously until batter looks smooth and well emulsified. Sift in cake flour and whisk just until well combined. Scrape into prepared pan. Bake until cake is firm but your finger can still leave an impression in the puffy crust, about 33 minutes. (A toothpick inserted into the center should come away with a few crumbs still attached.)

    4. 4.

      Cool cake directly in pan about 10 minutes, then run a butter knife around the edges to loosen. Invert onto a wire rack, peel off parchment, and place cake right side up on a serving platter or cake stand. Cool to room temperature, and top with homemade pistachio cream and lightly toasted pistachios to taste.

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