If you’d have told me before today that there’s something quite beautiful about making your own pistachio paste from scratch, I’d have probably told you you’re a mug.
Turns out it’s only bloody brilliant.
I’ve been nuts about pistachio desserts ever since my taste buds got their first fix of the gorgeously-green ice cream as a kid. That sweet fragrance of pistachios and just a hint of almond reminds me of both Indian sweet shops with their rows upon rows of Pista Halwa and cherry-topped Bakewell Tarts. It’s what I imagine heaven for sweet-toothed food bloggers smells like. Also present in said heaven would be Mr Kipling (the master of baked goods), Lionel Ritchie (with his smooth-as-buttermilk voice) and Madhuri Dixit (with her timeless beauty). So like all the components of this, my dream cake… all the greats.
To get the perfect green pistachio paste, the pistachios should be unsalted, shelled and skinned. If you have the good fortune to encounter them in all their emerald-green glory in a shop, buy them. If, like me, you can’t find them, you’ll need to remove the outer shells, blanch them in boiling water for three minutes, drain and refresh under cold water, then slip the skins off. Finally, give them a quick toast in a hot oven.
Marzipan gives the paste a delicious nutty edge and liquid glucose brings it all together like a dream.
In this recipe, I use a combination of sweetened condensed milk, milk powder and buttermilk as an egg replacer and it really works wonders in helping the cake hold its structure once risen which I find is the trickiest part of egg-free baking.
Finish the cake with a slathering of cream cheese frosting, raspberries and extra pistachios. A few white chocolate curls are also welcome to join the party.
Eggless Pistachio and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
For the pistachio paste blend together:
200g pistachios, shelled and skinned
150g white marzipan
220ml liquid glucose
A drop of green food colour, if required
For the cake:
1 x 397g tin sweetened condensed milk
180g caster sugar
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
190ml groundnut oil
3 tbsp pistachio paste
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp skimmed milk powder
450g cake flour
For the frosting:
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g full-fat cream cheese
300g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
White chocolate curls
1. Grease and line two 10-inch wide x 4-inch deep cake tins.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 160C.
3. In a stand mixer, combine the condensed milk, milk powder, cider vinegar, buttermilk, oil, pistachio paste and sugar. Beat on high speed for 5 minutes.
4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in three stages, folding in gently between each. Don’t overbeat this.
5. Divide the cake batter between the two prepared tins, smoothing out the tops.
6. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted into the middles comes out clean. It’s really important not to open the oven door for the first 30 minutes – your cakes will almost certainly collapse if you do.
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.
8. To make the cream cheese frosting, in a stand mixer beat together the butter, vanilla and sugar (add the sugar gradually) for 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Next, add in the cream cheese and beat in very briefly. If you overwork this, the frosting will become runny. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
9. To decorate, sandwich the cakes together with half of the cream cheese and an even layer of raspberries. Top with the remaining frosting. Scatter with pistachios and white chocolate curls.
Enjoy with your favourite people or all by yourself.