The cake is made with pistachio paste which was made by toasting shelled pistachios and grinding them in a food processor. A sugar syrup was made and added to the ground nuts while pureeing. The pistachio paste recipe calls for orgeat syrup which I love, but I was out at the time and since such a small amount was needed, I used some almond extract instead. The paste can be made in advance and refrigerated for about a month. To begin the cake, eggs and sugar were whisked together in a mixing bowl, and cream and pistachio paste were added. Flour and baking powder were folded into the batter before melted butter was added, and it was poured into a parchment-lined loaf pan. Chopped pistachios were sprinkled on top. It was placed in a 400 degree F oven for five minutes, and then a lengthwise incision was made in the top of the cake. It was to be placed back in the oven with the temperature reduced to 300. I think there was a typo in the recipe because the baking time of 35 minutes at 300 degrees F was off. It needed more like 55 minutes and/or a higher temperature. The cake baked into a pretty arched top studded with chopped nuts.
First, I have to tell you that the pistachio paste will not win any beauty contests, but the aroma and flavor are truly lovely. And, I’m glad to have enough of it leftover to use in the Pistachio Nougat. It gave the crumb of this cake a pretty, pale green color. It’s a buttery, nutty, delicious pound cake that’s easy to make. I can tell I’m going to have fun with all the recipes in this book.
Recipes reprinted with publisher’s permission from A la Mere de Famille.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Makes two 6-by-4-inch cakes or one 9-by-4-inch cake
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream, warmed
3 1/2 tbsp pistachio paste
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Handful of chopped pistachios
MAKING THE BATTER
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until the mixture is pale and thick. Add the cream and pistachio paste and whisk until combined. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Finally, stir in the butter. The batter should be smooth and shiny.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two 6-by-4-inch or one 9-by-4-inch loaf pan(s) with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and scatter the chopped pistachios over the top. Bake for 5 minutes, then make a lengthwise incision in the top of the cake with a sharp knife. Lower the oven temperature to 300°F, then return the cake to the oven for about 35 minutes (mine required a longer baking time of about 55 minutes), until the cake is golden-brown and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn the cake out of the pan. Cool completely before serving. (The cake will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)
Chef’s tip: To keep the cake moister, wrap it in plastic wrap as soon as it comes out of the oven and allow it to cool like that.
Makes about 1 pound
Preparation: about 15 minutes
1 1/2 cups blanched pistachios
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tbsp orgeat syrup (see chef’s tip)
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp hazelnut oil
PREPARING THE SUGAR SYRUP Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the pistachios on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water and cook over medium-high heat until the syrup registers 250°F on a candy thermometer.
MAKING THE PASTE Put the pistachios in a food processor and process until they are finely ground. With the food processor running, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup through the feed tube and continue to process until combined. Add the orgeat syrup and hazelnut oil and continue to process until the mixture forms a smooth paste. Transfer to an airtight container. Store the pistachio paste in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Chef’s tip: Orgeat syrup is an almond-flavored syrup that is often used in cocktails. It is available in most good liquor stores. You can use this pistachio paste in many ways—try making a pistachio-based cream instead of an almond-based frangipane in a pear tart. Mmm. . .
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