Pistachio Rose Cake

April 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

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The Kitchen Diaries features a picture of this cake that often drifts into my daydreams. The cake is on a simple plinth, set on a rustic table, surrounded by verdant shrubbery and the weak late afternoon light of springtime London. Elegant glasses of mint tea accompany. It’s a captivating scene, one that makes me believe that it would be possible to live in a London where the sun shines on a secluded garden, and to sip mint tea in the afternoon while reading short stories and wearing white. In other words, it makes you believe the unbelievable.

The cake, though, is real. I made it for Easter Sunday, having already rocked the Simnel cake too recently to repeat. What I wanted, apart from timeless elegance, was a not-too-sweet cake. Something that would stand its own in the inevitable context of too much food and way too much chocolate. I couldn’t have been happier with how it worked out. It’s a cake heavy with pistachios and almonds, fragrant with orange and rosewater, and just sweet enough with its thin layer of lemon icing. To make it yet more celebration-worthy, I added candied rose petals along with a scattering of leftover shelled pistachios to decorate. Raised on a plinth, and through the haze of a boozy lunch with good friends, it fed our own version of an idyllic scene.

Pistachio Rose Cake
Adapted from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries

250g butter
250g sugar
3 eggs
100g shelled pistachio nuts
100g ground almonds/almond flour
1 orange, zest and juice
1 tsp rosewater (honestly, you could leave this out if you don’t have it and don’t want to invest in a jar although it is a poetic addition)
60g plain (all purpose) flour
candied rose petals and shelled pistachio nuts to decorate (optional)

For the icing:
100g icing/confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 325F/160C. Grease a 22cm/9inch round cake tin and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar using a stand mixer, electric whisk or wooden spoon, until light and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition and scraping down the side of the bowl. Add the almonds and pistachios, taking care not to overmix. Beat in the orange juice and zest and the rosewater, again mixing only to combine. Fold in the flour using a metal spoon or silicon spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for around 50 minutes to an hour (my cake took the full hour to bake). Cover the top of the cake with foil after 45 minutes. The cake is ready when a metal skewer inserted into the centre come out mostly clean, with no big clumps of cake clinging to it.

Leave the cake to cool in the pan before unmolding. When the cake is completely cool, it is ready for decorating. Mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice to make a paste. Spread evenly over the cake and then top with candied rose petals and shelled whole pistachios, if using.

The cake should keep, well wrapped, for 3 days.

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