Pistachio cake has a light texture, a lot of flavor coming from the pistachio, butter, and vanilla. This cake has tender crumbs and it stays super moist for days. The cake has freshly ground pistachios; it has no artificial coloring, and we are not going to use pistachio pudding or a cake mix. I have also included the recipe for a fail-proof icing that complements the flavor of the cake. Watch the video tutorial in this post to learn how to make both the pistachio cake and the icing!
I promised not to add artificial coloring in this recipe. Still, in case you wanted the cake to look green, then read (Tips for the best pistachio cake) below where I explain many things, from how to prepare the baking pan, the way to bake this cake, ingredient’s substitutes, plus other useful information!
If you enjoy cakes with different flavors, then you must try my Best Orange Cake, and if you are fond of chocolate, then my Moist Marble Cake is going to surprise you. I also have a flavorful rich cake that’s perfect with chilled milk or coffee, buttery, and moist, it’s the Perfect Pound Cake!
What do you need to make the perfect Pistachio Cake?
All-purpose flour: You can also use cake flour, keep the measurements the same. Using all-purpose flour will result in a light and moist pistachio cake, so there is no need to use cake flour.
Unsalted butter: In desserts, it’s best to use unsalted butter because some salted butter has more salt than others, and it might affect the flavor of the dessert. We are using butter in this cake to add more flavor and richness.
Pistachios: Use unsalted pistachios; it won’t add more salt to the cake batter. If you have salted pistachios on hand, then place the salted pistachios on a damp kitchen towel. Cover it with another damp kitchen towel, then place your hand over the top kitchen towel and roll your hand back and forth; this will remove some salt from the pistachios. Make sure the kitchen towel is damp and not soaking wet. Pat the pistachios with a dry kitchen towel and then grind it.
Buttermilk: The acidity in buttermilk combined with baking soda in the batter create moist crumbs. Make homemade buttermilk by mixing 1 and ½ tablespoon of white vinegar with the amount of milk mentioned in this recipe, stir this mixture and keep it aside for 5 minutes then use it in the recipe.
Eggs: Two large eggs.
Sugar: Use fins sugar; it takes less time to mix with the butter.
Baking powder, baking soda.
Salt: A pinch to enhance the flavor.
Oil: Adding oil keeps the cake moist for a longer time.
Vanilla: Use almond extract if you wish, but I prefer vanilla because it gives a fantastic flavor to the pistachio cake.
How to Make Pistachio Cake
- In a food processor, add the pistachios and pulse, break it down to fine crumbs. This process will bring out the green color and the oil in the pistachios for more flavor and texture.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
- Add the fine pistachio crumbs to the flour and mix well. Do not worry; the pistachio texture will turn moist when you bake the cake, you won’t get a crunchy nut texture in your cake.
- In a different bowl, cream the butter and sugar until soft and lighter in color about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add an egg to the butter mixture and beat until combined, then add the second egg and vanilla, beat until combined.
- Add a little flour to the mixture and beat, then add some buttermilk and beat. Repeat three times while mixing on low speed.
- Spoon the batter in a previously greased and dusted baking pan (How to prepare Bundt pan below).
- Run a butter knife through the batter and then gently tap the baking pan two or three times against the kitchen counter.
- Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. (More details in the recipe card below).
How to Prepare the Bundt Pan to Prevent the cake from Sticking
Always grease and dust the Bundt pan after preparing the batter. The heat from the kitchen might melt the butter, and the cake will stick to the pan.
- Use soft (not melted) butter to grease the Bundt pan. Make sure the butter covers every detail of the Bundt pan. Be generous with the butter. It’s best to use a pastry brush to spread the butter evenly in the pan.
- Add ¼ cup of flour to the Bundt pan. Swirl the pan allowing the flour to completely coat the pan. Place a parchment paper or a baking sheet on the counter to collect the discarded flour. Flip the Bundt pan and tap it one time over the parchment paper or the baking sheet. Discard the excess flour.
- Immediately pour the batter in the pan.
How to make Perfect Icing for the Pistachio Cake
Many complain about the icing melting into the cake or not having a firm consistency, but in this post, I will show you how to make the perfect icing that will make all your cakes look beautiful and it won’t seep into the cake.
- In a mixing bowl, add the confectioner’s sugar.
- Add half a teaspoon of vanilla or your favorite flavor.
- Add one tablespoon of milk or water and mix well.
- Add another tablespoon of milk or water and mix until you get a thick paste-like texture. The texture should be thick and drops off of a spoon within a few seconds.
- The icing melts and seeps in the cake if it’s runny or if the cake is hot. Make sure the cake is completely cool before adding the icing.
- Place a folded towel over the kitchen counter, Place the cake in a serving plate. Pour the icing on the top part of the cake, tap the serving plate gently against the kitchen towel; the icing will run down the cake beautifully.
How to Store Pistachio Cake
Room Temperature: Planning to eat the cake or serve it later, don’t pour the icing over the cake and place it in an airtight container. Leave it on the kitchen counter for two days. Fresh pistachio cake always tastes great but if your kitchen is warm you must refrigerate it.
Refrigerating: Wrap the cake with a plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 4 days. You can pour the icing over the cake and wait for it to set before refrigerating. From my experience, refrigerated pistachio cake tastes good and stays moist!
Freezing: Do not pour icing on the cake if you are planning to freeze it, or it will turn soggy when thawed.
Wrap the cake with plastic wrap and then wrap it with aluminum foil. Place the wrapped cake in a freezer bag and freeze for up to one month. You can freeze the slices by wrapping each with plastic wrap and then with foil and then place them in a Ziplock bag for up to one month.
To thaw a frozen cake, unwrap it and leave it on the kitchen counter at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours, depending on how big the cake or the cake slice is.
Pistachio Cake Made from Scratch
FOR THE CAKE BATTER
- 1 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup pistachios out of shells
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons fine sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup buttermilk how to make it at home in the notes below
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
FOR THE ICING
- 1 and 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoon milk or water
MAKING THE PISTACHIO CAKE BATTER
- Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 325F (162C). Grease and flour an 8” wide and 5” deep Bundt pan. (how to properly prepare a Bundt pan for baking in the post above).
- Using a food processor, ground the pistachio until fine crumbs. (watch the video or refer to the image in the post).
- In a big mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the fine pistachio. Mix well using a whisk or a spatula.
- In a different bowl, beat the butter and sugar using a stand mixer or a hand mixer for 4 to 5 minutes until light in color. Add the oil and beat for one more minute.
- Add an egg to the butter-sugar mixture and beat until combined, add the second egg and the vanilla, beat until combined. Scrape down the sides and beat for two minutes. (If you wish to add food coloring, this is the step where you can).
- Add part of the flour to the butter mixture and beat at low speed, add part of the buttermilk and beat for few seconds. Repeat this step three times for the flour and the buttermilk. Mixing the batter shouldn’t take more than a minute, or you’ll be over mixing it.
- Scrap the sides of the bowl and up the bottom of the bowl with a spatula.
- Scoop the batter using a spatula into the previously prepared Bundt pan. Run a butter knife through the batter to remove air bubbles. Gently tap the Bundt pan down against the kitchen counter; this will spread the batter evenly.
- Place the baking pan under the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Place the Bundt pan over a cooling rack, leave the cake in the pan for 7 minutes.
- To remove the cake from the pan, gently pull the side of the cake toward the center to release the cake.
MAKING THE ICING
- Add the confectioner’s sugar to a mixing bowl; it’s best to sift it to avoid lumps.
- To the confectioner’s sugar, add half a teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract. You can also add 1 teaspoon of lemon or orange zest.
- Start by adding one tablespoon of milk or water and beat with a whisk. Add another tablespoon of milk or water and continue beating until it is thick yet pourable. The consistency should be thick and drops off of a spoon within seconds.
- Pour the icing over the top part of the cake. Make sure the cake is cool, or the icing will melt.
- Place a folded towel or kitchen towel over the counter.
- Hold the serving plate of the cake from both sides and tap gently against the kitchen towel. The icing will run down the cake.
- Instead of buttermilk, you can use milk or add 1 and ½ tablespoon of sour cream to the milk for a moist cake.
- Do not add salt to the cake if you are using salted butter.
- If you are using salted butter and salted pistachios in this recipe, you can remove some of the salt from the pistachio. The method is under (What you need to make the perfect Pistachio Cake). Omit the ½ teaspoon salt from the recipe.
- When using unsalted butter and salted pistachio, omit the salt from the recipe, and there is no need to remove the salt from the pistachio.
- Instead of two large eggs, use two whole medium eggs and one egg yolk.
- If you are fond of the green color in pistachio cake, then add two to three drops of green food coloring to the batter, use less food coloring if you are adding gel food coloring.
- To make a two-layer cake, use two 7” baking pans. The baking time will reduce, so keep an eye on the cake 15 minutes after placing it in the oven.
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