Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just Because Lee Asked...

Here's the recipe for a cake I made along with the grape & wine pasta. It reminds me a lot of Crans Cake, playing on a similar nut & cream theme. The downside: pistachios are time-consuming to shell and blanch. And by the way, since the frosting is mostly butter (I'm really not kidding), be sure that the cake is completely cool before you try to spread it, else it will simply melt and dribble off. I mean completely cool. I ended up putting mine in the freezer for a few minutes.

Sicilian Pistachio Cake
for the batter:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream, divided
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/3 cup blanched pistachios
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1,1/2 sticks (12 Tbs) butter
for the buttercream:
  • 3 large eggs yolks
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 drops pistachio essence (optional) // because everybody has that in their pantry, right?
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs blanched pistachio nuts, slivered or coarsely chopped

The Cake
Set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan with butter and flour.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, 3 Tbs of the sour cream, the vanilla, and almond extract, just until lightly combined.

In a food processor, process the pistachios with the sugar until finely ground but not to a powder.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, the pistachio mixture, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed for 30sec. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1,1/2min. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating for 30sec after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen their structure. Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly.

Bake for 35-45min, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10min before removing the pan and allowing it to cool completely.

The Buttercream
In a medium bowl, mix the yolks until light in color.

In a small saucepan, preferably nonstick, combine the sugar, syrup, and lemon juice. Using a spatula, stir until all the sugar is moistened. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup begins to boil around the edges. Stop stirring and continue cooking for a few minutes, until the syrup comes to a rolling boil (the entire surface will be covered with large bubbles). Immediately transfer the syrup to a heatproof glass measure (or ceramic bowl) to stop the cooking.

Beat the syrup into the yolks in a steady stream. Continue beating for 5min. Let cool completely. To speed cooling, place the bowl in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

When cool, beat in the butter 1 Tbs at a time. The buttercream will not thicken until almost all of the butter has been added. Add the vanilla and pistachio essence (if using), and beat until incorporated.

Use the buttercream at once. Otherwise, place in an airtight container and use up to 4hrs later. If you are keeping it longer, refrigerate it and bring it to room temperature before using.

The Presentation
When the cake is completely cool, frost the top and sides with swirls of buttercream. Coat the top and sides with the slivered or chopped pistachios.


Moxie said...


Lee said...

Brilliant and exactly what I thought. Looks so glorious. This cake served a similar purpose for me the other day: http://orangette.blogspot.com/2007/06/you-dont-mess-around.html

I hope you know Orangette. She is as close as I get to obsessive hero worship. Her cakes--all of them, I think--are utterly brilliant and simple and homey. The yogurt cake is almost half an hour start to finish, and just touches the core Platonic cake ideal.

Moxie said...

Wow I just looked at the recipe for the yogurt cake: we need to make that. I especially liked the variant using ground almonds instead of some of the flour. plus some almond extract. Yum.


Celia said...

i MUST make this.