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Pistachio Cake

pistachio cake | ZoeBakes (4 of 14)

Pistachio is my absolute favorite flavor of ice cream. When I traveled with my family to Italy, we did a whole lot of “research” on gelato. It was an informal, albeit thorough, study consisting of my sons trying every single flavor made in the country, while I stuck to a scoop of pistachio and one of espresso. Side by side, they are the perfect combination. I should know, because I ate it daily during our two weeks in Italy. This pistachio cake is based on that perfect marriage.

pistachio cake | ZoeBakes (2 of 14)
Pistachio cake, pistachio buttercream and a layer of espresso ganache.
pistachio cake | ZoeBakes (1 of 1)

Pistachio Cake with Pistachio Buttercream and Espresso Ganache

See me assemble this cake step by step below and find the full recipe at the bottom of this post!

In a sauce pan heat the heavy cream to a simmer. Add the espresso and chocolate, swirl the pan until the chocolate is submerged into the hot cream. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Gently stir the gauche until smooth.

pistachio cake | ZoeBakes (14 of 14)

Divide each cake layer into two and ganache the tops.

pistachio cake | ZoeBakes (13 of 14)

I only divided 3 of my 6×2-inch rounds, because I had other plans for the last layer, but you could easily make these cakes with all the layers. I love a tall cake.

pistachio cake | ZoeBakes (8 of 14)

You’ll need more crushed pistachios for the buttercream and to decorate the outside.

pistachio cake | ZoeBakes (11 of 14)

I used my classic buttercream recipe and folded 1/2 cup of ground pistachios into it.

pistachio cake | ZoeBakes (10 of 14)

I smoothed the surface with a spatula, as you can see in this video.

pistachio cake | ZoeBakes (7 of 14)

And now they are ready for the pistachios on the sides.

pistachio cake | ZoeBakes (6 of 14)

Use your hands to gently press the nuts to the sides of the cake.

pistachio cake | ZoeBakes (4 of 14)

I left the top clean, but you could cover the whole thing in nuts.

pistachio cake | ZoeBakes (1 of 14)

Enjoy!

Pistachio Cake on a cake stand

Pistachio Cake with Buttercream and Espresso Ganache

Pistachio and espresso is the perfect combination. I should know, because I ate it daily in the form of gelato during two weeks in Italy. This pistachio cake is based on that perfect marriage.
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Course: cake, Dessert

Ingredients

Cake (see note)

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar divided
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup egg whites (about 5 extra large)
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachios plus more to cover the outside of the cake, if desired

Espresso Ganache

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup ground pistachios

Instructions

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter and flour two 8×3-inch cake pans.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  • Cream the butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar lemon zest and vanilla and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl as needed.
  • Add a third of the flour and beat on low speed until combined. Add half the milk and mix until blended. Continue with another third of the flour and then the rest of the milk, finish with the final third of flour.
  • Put the egg whites in a very clean bowl and whip until foamy. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue to beat until medium-stiff peaks.
  • Add 1/4 of the whites to the cake batter and mix together well. Add another 1/4 whites to the batter and fold gently until mostly combined. Continue in the same way with the remaining egg whites. Gently fold the pistachios into the batter before dividing it into the pans.
  • Divide the batter into the two prepared pans and smooth with a spatula. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool.

Espresso Ganache

  • In a sauce pan heat the heavy cream to a simmer. Add the espresso and chocolate, swirl the pan until the chocolate is submerged into the hot cream. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Gently stir the gauche until smooth.

Buttercream

Assembly

  • Divide each cake layer into two and ganache the tops. I only divided 3 of my 6×2-inch rounds, because I had other plans for the last layer, but you could easily make these cakes with all the layers. I love a tall cake.
  • I smoothed the surface with a spatula, as you can see in this video. And now they are ready for the pistachios on the sides. Use your hands to gently press the nuts to the sides of the cake. I left the top clean, but you could cover the whole thing in nuts.

Notes

The white cake recipe is from Abby Dodge’s The EVERYDAY BAKER (makes two 8×3-inch rounds or four 6×2-inch rounds). I left the lemon out for this cake.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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16 thoughts to “Pistachio Cake”

  1. i giggled when i read that you ate the double scoop of gelato each day in italy. my tummy would have been right there with you; pistachio takes me over the moon too, zoe. i am especially pulled in to this post by how you chose to pistachio-up so many components of the cake. then turning the ganache into an espresso party? come on. love love love. i will definitely be making this soon. thank you 🙂

  2. Hi Zoe, I am so making! Looks super yum! I have to make 40 cupcakes for a kids birthday party in two weeks, I was wondering if you had a go to cupcake recipe that would work or any cake recipe ? Thanks! I love your blog!

      1. Hi Zoe, I was thinking red velvet or strawberry. I am pretty open to favors just something yummy! Thanks so much for responding!!

  3. The link for the White Cake is for a Lemon flavored white cake. I just want to make sure that’s correct, and that I should make it lemon flavored. I wasn’t sure lemon and espresso would go together, so I thought I should check. I love reading your recipes, but sadly am usually too intimidated to make any of them. I might just give this one a try. I love pistachios too.

  4. Hi Zoe, I wanted to thank you for the Strawberry Mascarpone Cake with Raspberry Cream! OMG it is so good! I just made it for my moms birthday. Everyone just loved it. Thanks for the videos on cutting ,filling and icing. Thanks, Kim

  5. I ate the best pistachio gelato in Siena. I can still remember the taste.

    This cake looks amazing! The taste of the Espresso Buttercream pairs well with the pistachio flavour. Can’t wait ti bake it.

  6. I am a gigantic fan of both you and Sarah from The Vanilla Bean Blog (how I found your site!)… you two make such beautiful cakes and I love seeing you guys in action. It’s so inspiring since I’ve been trying to improve my cake game! So this is me just commenting to say thanks 🙂 This cake looks like perfection!

  7. Do you toast the pistachios lightly before using them? I have only worked with pecans and they definitely retain their light crunch and crispness best when toasted.

  8. I’ve had this recipe saved since it first posted and was looking for a chance to make it…I finally did this weekend! I used my standard white cake recipe but followed your recipes for the rest. What a delicious hit this was for my friend’s birthday! He loves pistachios and this cake was perfect for celebrating his day. Thanks for sharing another great recipe 🙂

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