do you remember old school pistachios? i do. their red shells would stain our fingers when we ate them, mom and me, the glorious ceremony of it all. im sure they were colored with red dye #2, and our lives were probably at stake as we devoured them by the bagful. alas, the world is wiser now, no more cancerous dyes, and who can be bothered with shells when trader joes pulls them off for you and roasts them to boot.
olive oil pistachio cake with orange flower water
i've been wanting to make this pistachio cake for a while now. i got the idea from my friend valeria, who is italian, and thus knows the virtues of the little green nut that most everyone reveres. have you been to italy? they toss pistachios around, devil-may-care, like they grow on trees.
just a quick bit of trivia, the pistachio is one of two nuts mentioned in the bible, so that makes them holy, yeah? maybe judas stuffed himself with them before he brought the axe down on his good friend, the one who made a living sanding tables and dispensing miracles on the side.
and evidently bags of this praiseworthy nut are given as gifts to parting house guests in syria, such a beautiful bestowal, so when evan's birthday arrived in full stealth mode (he tried to keep it secret, to no avail), it was settled: orange blossom water would need to be procured, and the cake would be made without further hesitation.
i loved valeria's recipe, but i wanted something a little citrusy, a little floral, and besides, i'm not afraid of the downside of creme fraiche (valeria uses yogurt in her recipe, how lovely and health-minded). can i just tell you, what came of my afternoon experiment was nothing short of a miracle. earthy and fragrant, yes, just sweet enough, really, the cake of my dreams.
the best thing is that it comes together quickly with virtually zero effort. and once you've had it, i venture that this little joy will make it into your repertoire of regulars tout de suite. lets just hope that judas doesn't get wind of our plan and put an end to the dispensation of our little miracles.
here's your larder and the method:
-100g all purpose flour
-50g whole grain pastry flour, i used arrowhead mills
-2 eggs, yolks & whites separated
-120g roasted pistachio nuts
-125g creme fraiche
-125g granulated sugar, i used organic evaporated cane
-50g good fruity olive oil
-10g baking powder
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp orange blossom water (don't be tempted to use more, it will overwhelm and embitter the cake)
-zest of one large, darkly hued orange
Preheat the oven to 360 degrees and line an 8.5" x 4.5" x 2" loaf pan with parchment paper.
1) mortar the pistachio nuts until they arrive at a coarse consistency, set aside
2) whisk together the egg yolks, the sugar, the extracts and the zest, then add in the creme fraiche and olive oil, set aside
3) sift both flours and the baking powder, set aside
4) whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks
5) fold 100g of the nuts into the yolk mixture
6) with a wide spatula, fold the flour into the yolk mixture in 3 passes, careful not to overwork the mixture or the cake will be tough. streaks of flour can remain after each pass
7) fold the egg whites into this mixture in two passes, carefully now, you don't want to deflate the whites or overwork the flour. streaks of the whites can remain after the final pass
8) pour into the prepared loaf pan. the mixture will be quite thick, so you will have to spread it out into the corners of the pan. sprinkle with the remaining 20g of nuts
9) bake for 38 - 45 minutes, checking at 38 minutes. check the cake by inserting a thin knife into the center, it should come out relatively clean, but if a few bits of the moist cake adhere to it, its fine. just be sure that there are no streaks of raw cake batter on the blade
mangia bene, vivi felice
This post was sent off to Wild Yeast Bread's Yeast Spottin'