If you’re like me, your first introduction to this nut came in the form of an unnaturally bright green ice cream studded with bottom-basement chunks made soggy over time. Which is to say, (if you are like me that is) you never touched the stuff. It took years for me to appreciate the supple, bright and earthy pistachio. And no, I do NOT enjoy those circus red, bad dye job ones.
This National Pistachio Day, I have a wee little cake studded with real deal, green as green gets, nutty and earthy pistachios; and paired with one of their very best friends, the Meyers lemon. The cake is 100% nutty goodness and actually terrific on its own as a snack cake.
Pistachio Butter Cake*
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 c. sour cream, divided
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 c. cake flour
2/3 c. pistachios, roasted and unsalted
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 375F. Spray your cake pan(s) with a light coating of pan spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place the eggs, 1/3 c. sour cream and the vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk lightly to combine. Set aside.
Place 2/3 c. of the flour and the pistachios in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Add the remaining flour,sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and pulse until well combined and no large chunks of pistachio remain.
Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer (or you can use a hand mixer). Add the butter and remaining 1/3 c. of sour cream. Stir on the lowest setting until well combined, then kick the speed up to medium and blend for another 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and gradually add the egg mixture in three batches, scraping the side of the bowl after each addition.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for approximately 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool five minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack and removing the cake pans. Allow to cool completely before assembling.
Quick Meyer’s Lemon Curd Filling
3 egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. fresh Meyer’s lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 oz. (1 1/2 sticks) very cold butter
Bring a cup of water up to a simmer in a medium pot.
In a heat-proof bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and yolks. Add all of the other ingredients except the butter, and whisk to combine. Place the bowl over the simmering water and stir continuously until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk the butter in, again until completely smooth. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
5 egg whites
2 c. (1 pound) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
Add the water to a small pot and sprinkle the sugar on top. Bring to a boil and cook until the syrup reaches 240F.
While the sugar syrup is cooking, pour the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and begin to whip on medium-high speed. It is important to have a medium-peak meringue already as the syrup reaches 240F. As soon as the syrup reaches the right temperature, immediately pour it in a slow, steady stream into the still whipping egg whites. Continue to whip on high speed until the mixture cools to room temperature and a very thick, glossy meringue is achieved.
With the mixer still on high, begin to add the butter one chunk at a time, allowing each chunk to disappear entirely into the meringue before adding the next piece. This will take a minute, and it is going to look really awful and broken. Just keep mixing, it will come together.
Remove from the mixer and assemble the cake.
1 c. water
1 c. sugar
1/4 vanilla bean, split
Bring all of the ingredients to a boil in a small pot. That’s it. Keep whatever you don’t use in the fridge for the next cake you bake, or to sweeten a post-cake eating cocktail.
Soak each layer of cake with the simple syrup before spreading on a 1/2 cup portion of the chilled lemon curd. once the layer are stacked together, combine the remaining curd with the buttercream, and frost the cake.