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
- 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
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.
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.
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.