Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pistachio-Cardamon Cake

When I read this recipe in Suvir Saran's book American Masala I knew it had to be made immediately. My husband, who does not have a sweet tooth, was salivating over the cake and begged me to make it again. This was several years ago. So a few weeks ago when I took this to a potluck with my fabulous girlfriends (where I also took along the Spinach and Cheese Dip from Saran's book) it was a hit! I have re-made it for several occasions in the past few weeks— which made me wonder why I never shared this fantastic recipe with all of you. 

This Lebanese cake is a pound cake is wonderfully soft as the pistachios are ground to a fine powder. As Saran says; "I find that the freshly ground cardamon enhances the flavor of the pistachios, contributing an ethereal citrus essence." The lemon icing is what sends this perfect cake over the top and gives it that irreplaceable finishing touch.

Makes 1 loaf

For the cake
1 cup raw, shelled pistachios
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk

For the icing
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon heavy cream or milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  2. Butter and flour a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with 1 tablespoon butter.
  3. Pulse pistachios in a food processor until they become very fine (be careful not to over process; otherwise you'll have pistachio butter). Set aside.
  4. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cardamon, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  5. Crack the eggs in a liquid measuring cup, whisk in the vanilla and set aside.
  6. Using an electric mixer, cream the remaining stick and a half of butter and sugar, until they are light and airy.
  7. Drizzle in the eggs, a little at a time, beating between additions to incorporate and scraping the bowl as necessary.
  8. Alternate adding the flour and milk, starting and ending with the flour and mixing until the batter is just nearly combined between additions, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  9. Fold the pistachios into the batter by hang, then transfer to the prepared loaf pan. Bake the cake until a cake tester inserted into the cake's center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack and turn it so that its top faces up. Let the cake cool completely.
  10. While the cake cools, make the icing. Sift the confectioners' sugar and cardamon powder into a medium bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and milk
  11. Spread the icing over the cake, letting it drop over the sides. Once the icing has set, slice and serve.
Saran's tip: The lemon icing is nice finish, but the cake is delicious on its own too. Heavy cream makes the icing opaque and less gritty, but if you don't have any handy, add an extra teaspoon of lemon juice.

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