July 1, 2015

Pistachio Cake w/ Honey Butter Cream Frosting

A few months ago my husband order couple pounds of high quality nuts, among one of them were delicious unsalted pistachios. We ate about 4lbs of them already but I was trying to save the last bag for a special occasion cake. I've searched high and low for a good recipe of a pistachio cake but they are quite rare. I was first contemplating making this chocolate cake with pistachio buttercream, but than I loved how the pistachio cake layers would play with buttercream. And they sure did! I have to warn though - this cake is very rich and after eating a small slice, one must have the cardiologist on standby. ha!

The original recipe is from  Jar of Vanilla blog and followed it to a tee. It wasn't a hard cake to make but definitely took some time. 

Things I would change next time.
- reduce sugar by 1/2 in batter and 1/2 in frosting. 
- add a drop of green food coloring into the batter
- add pistachio extract for pop of pistachio flavor
- don't use vanilla extract

For the cake
  • 1½ cups ice-water
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 2½ cups cake flour (see notes)
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
For the buttercream
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 1½ cups milk
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 1½ cups unsalted butter, soft, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoon honey

Prepare the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 162 degrees C (325 degrees F)
  2. Grease three 9-inch cake pans. Line with parchment paper and grease again. Dust with flour
  3. Put some ice in a measuring cup. Add cold water (up to the 1 ½ cup mark) and set aside
  4. Pulse the pistachio in a food processor until coarse. Remove 2 tablespoons to a small bowl
  5. Grind the remaining pistachios until finely chopped.
  6. Combine the coarse and fine pistachios in a large bowl and whisk.
  7. Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on top of the ground pistachios. Whisk until combined and set aside.
  8. Using the paddle attachment of the stand-up mixer, cream the butter for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat for another 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  9. Add in the egg and beat until just combined.
  10. Add the flour/pistachio mix to the batter in three additions, alternating with the ice water, mixing each time until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
  11. In a separate medium sized clean bow, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
  12. Gently fold egg whites into batter.
  13. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh batter (batter weight) = total weight – bowl weight.
  14. Divide batter among three cakes pans and smooth tops.
  15. Bake in preheated oven for 35 – 40 minutes. (don't over bake). Toothpick inserted into center should come out almost clean (just a few crumbs sticking to it).
  16. Allow cakes to cool down for 20 minutes
  17. Flip warm cakes onto cooling racks and let cool completely before frosting
  18. Remove parchment paper from bottoms
Prepare the buttercream
  1. Combine the flour, sugar, heavy cream and milk in a medium saucepan and whisk until smooth.
  2. Put saucepan on medium heat and whisk mixture continuously. You can remove whisk and start stirring with a wooden spoon.
  3. Stir until mixture thickens and starts bubbling.
  4. Pour hot mixture into the bowl of a standup mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on high speed until it has completely cooled (about 10 minutes)
  5. Reduce speed to low and add butter, a few pieces at a time. Increase speed and beat for a few more minutes until light and fluffy
  6. Add honey and vanilla and beat again until combined.
Assemble the Cake:
  1. Level tops of cakes with a serrated knife.
  2. Place one layer on a cake board (top side up). Spread frosting onto the layer
  3. Place second later. Spread frosting onto the layer
  4. Place the final layer (bottom side up). Spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake (crumb coating).
  5. Refrigerate cake for 30 minutes to set the crumb coat.
  6. After 30 minutes, evenly spread the remaining frosting on the sides and top of cake.
  7. Decorate with pistachios
*Cake flour is not readily available where I live, so here is the substitute I used: I used all-purpose flour. I removed 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour for ever cup of cake flour required; in total I removed 5 ‘levelled’ tablespoons of flour. I added 5 ‘levelled’ tablespoons of corn-starch and sifted them together. Please note that this is a substitution only for the cake flour. The remaining ingredients, including the ¾ cup all-purpose flour, were used as is with no changes made to them).


  1. Omggggg this looks so amazing! I love pistachios! Wish I could dig in!

    <3 Shannon
    Upbeat Soles

    1. Shannon, it was absolutely delicious!

  2. I love pistachios! This cake sounds amazing and looks delicious!

    Doused In Pink

    1. Jill, it takes a little bit of work but totally worth it!


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