Sunday, 9 August 2015

Pistachio and almond cake

Sometimes, a cake comes about simply because you have an ingredient that you are desperate to use.  My wonderful friend Jasmin has recently been on holiday to Sicily and, amongst other foodie goodies, kindly bought me back some intriguingly green pistachio marzipan.  It has sat on my baking shelf for almost a month as I mused how best to use it…and now I’m ready!

The marzipan wasn’t enough to use around a battenburg-style cake so I decided on baking it into a nutty sponge cake.  I rather like the idea of the cake looking like a normal sponge only to reveal a layer of marzipan when cut into.  Enclosing it entirely in the batter also meant that it retained its bold colour.

No icing needed for this rich fragrant sponge; the topping is simply some chopped pistachios mixed with honey.  I put this on top of the sponge while it was still warm so any excess honey would be absorbed into the sponge making it even more soft and moist.  Cakes like this age so well too as the nuts release their oils over time and the flavour and texture is enhanced.

If you don’t have (or indeed, don’t like) marzipan, the cake would still be lovely without it.  You could have it as a plain sponge, or cut the sponge through on baking and fill with buttercream.  What I hadn’t banked on (this is my last attempt to sway you to use marzipan!), was that the sponge under the marzipan absorbed the oils from it as it baked and ended up crisp and delicious.

Personally, I see this as more of a dessert cake simply because of the rich nuttiness of the sponge.  It isn’t a dry crumbed sponge.  Serve either warm or at room temperature with ice cream, whipped cream or even some natural yoghurt.

Thanks for the gift Jasmin - wish I could send you a slice!


For the cake:
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
120g ground almonds
100g ground pistachios – make this yourself by grinding pistachios to fine powder in a food processor
50g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
150g pistachio or almond marzipan

For the topping:
60g pistachios, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon runny honey – just enough to coat the nuts


Preheat the oven to 180C/fan oven 160C/350F/gas mark 4.

Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and whippy.  Do not skimp on this stage – keep going until the mix is pale and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Beat in the ground almonds and ground pistachios.

Beat in the flour and baking powder.

Spoon just over half the batter into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Roll the marzipan out into a disc slightly smaller than the size of the tin – you want the batter to completely engulf it, so it’s a surprise when you cut into the cake.

Lay the marzipan on the batter.

Spoon the remaining batter into the tin and level the surface.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean – don’t worry if it takes longer; mine took almost an hour.

NB. When you bake the cake, especially if you use a springform tin, you will see the nut oils dripping from the tin – we’re only talking a little, not a flood, but it’s a good idea to either stand the cake tin on a baking sheet, or place a baking sheet on the shelf below with some kitchen paper to catch any drips.

Now make the topping: roughly chop the pistachios.

Mix with enough honey to coat the nuts but not pool in the bowl.

Spoon onto the top of the cake.

Leave to cool for 20 minutes in the tin, before de-tinning and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve in generous slices.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.



Stuart Vettese said...

Never heard of pistachio marzipan before CC. I'm not a huge fan of the almond one, so this may be the answer for me...Cake looks delicieux!

Lisa Marie said...

First, I just need to say again how delighted I am that you are back, CC! Second, this looks divine. The ice of the cake under the marzipan disc becoming crisp? Heaven!

Angie Schneider said...

I have to find that pistachio marzipan!! The cake looks so nutty and sinfully delicious!

Baking Addict said...

I'm not a fan of marzipan but I'd love to try this cake without the marzipan as it looks delicious! love the topping of nuts and honey. yum!

Maggie said...

Pistachio marzipan is new to me but as a marzipan and pistachio fan this cake ticks all the boxes for me and it looks like a keeper too.

Laura Denman said...

What a brilliant idea to showcase the pistachio marzipan. I can see how delicious this cake was!

Gloria Baker said...

I love pistachio and marzipan! This cake look stunning!

Gloria Baker said...

I love pistachio and marzipan! This cake look stunning!

Gloria Baker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Snowy said...

Looks a very delicious cake, and a great way of using the unusual pistachio marzipan,.

Jo said...

Marzipan fan here!! I didn't know you could get pistachio marzipan so I'm definitely intrigued. The green strip looks great running through the centre. I wish I could have a slice!

Choclette Blogger said...

Now this CC is something I would choose over pretty much, dare I say it, any chocolate cake. I adore pistachio cakes and whilst I've never had pistachio marzipan, I know it would be a complete winner. What a totally fabulous cake.

Anonymous said...

First of all: great that you like to share your baking again - I am very happy and missed my monday-cake recipe-fix! AND I love the cake and have to bake it in near future, when it is not that hot... By the way: it is very easy to make marzipan by grinding nuts (normaly almonds, but I am sure it will work with pistachios, too) and powdered sugar and a little bit rose water or water! There are plenty recipes online.

Kate Glutenfreealchemist said...

This is genius! What a totally fab idea to bake the marzipan in the cake..... I am definitely going to try it. I will also be attempting to make some pistachio marzipan..... I made some amazing almond marzipan a few months back which I blogged and it was really easy.... I am sure now I see this that it must be possible to make it in all sorts of nut varieties...... Now why haven't I thought of that before??? Thanks for the share xx

Katherine (An Ostrich in the Kitchen) said...

I am very excited to make this, if only pistachio marzipan was easier to get your hands on!