Pistachio Cake


Italian Easy: Recipes from the London River Cafe (Clarkson Potter, $35), the latest cookbook from Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers of London’s River Café, promises Italian dishes that are easy to make, or, as the book jacket boldly proclaims, "straightforward and sexy."

The book is filled with simple, uncomplicated recipes for bruschettas, salads, pastas, risottos, meat and fish dishes, and desserts. The recipes have stripped-down names like "Fig and Chile," a pasta of tagliatelle, black figs, dried chiles, and lemon, and "Spirale, Clams, Shrimp," fusilli tossed with shellfish, garlic, and arugula. Opposite each page of recipes is a mouthwatering, full-bleed photo of the final product.

I haven’t made a single one of the pastas or entrées yet, though I have been eying the recipes for gnudi (bianchi and spinaci), the denuded ravioli made famous in New York City by River Café protégé April Bloomfield at the The Spotted Pig.

I jumped ahead to the chapter entitled "Almond Cakes." They remind me a little of the almond cakes served at New York mini-chain Moustache. Not only does Moustache make great lahmajun and merguez sausage sandwiches, but the waiter presents you with a free slice of sweet, dense honey-almond cake when he or she brings you the bill.

I made the Pistachio Cake (see recipe below), one of four cake recipes in the book. I love pistachios, and they give the cake not only great flavor, but a striking pale green color. The glaze on top is fantastic, sweet and tart with lemon and sugar and chunks of nuts. A slice of the dense, buttery cake makes an excellent crumbly accompaniment to coffee or tea.

Kitchen Notes: (1) The recipe requires a 12 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4-inch loaf pan, a somewhat unusual size that I did not own. This gave me an excuse to go shop for one at Bridge Kitchenware. All the better, since it produces the long, narrow shape you see in the picture above. (2) The recipe indicates "beating" the butter into the sugar and then the eggs. I actually tried to accomplish this by hand using a whisk, which was pretty challenging. Next time, I would try using an electric mixer to cream the sugar and butter together and combine the eggs.

Pistachio Cake
by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
from Italian Easy: Recipes from the London River Cafe

2 1/4 sticks Unsalted butter
1 Lemon
1 Vanilla bean
2/3 cup Blanched almonds
3/4 cup Pistachios
1 1/4 cups Superfine sugar
4 Eggs, organic
1/2 cup All-purpose flour

1 Lemon
1/2 cup Pistachios
1/4 cup Superfine sugar

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Grease a 12 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4-inch loaf pan with 4 tsp of the butter and line with baking parchment.

Soften the remaining butter. Finely grate the lemon peel. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Finely grind the almonds and pistachios together.

Beat the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the lemon peel and vanilla seeds, then fold in the nuts and sift in the flour.

Spoon the batter into the pan and bake for 45-60 minutes. The cake is ready when a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan, then turn out.

For the topping, grate the lemon peel and squeeze the juice. Halve the pistachios. Mix the lemon juice with the sugar, boil until reduced to a syrup, then add the peel. Stir in the pistachios and pour over the cake.

Recipe reprinted with permission. Copyright 2004 Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers.



hi josh,

gee this one looks super good, I know I am making this in the very near future. thanks for sharing!


Why grease the pan with 4 tsp - (HALF A STICK) and then line with parchment. This seems a bit excessive, no?


Thanks Chika!

It's tsp (teaspoon), not tbsp (tablespoon), so that's just around 1/8 of a stick actually, not half of a stick.

There is quite a lot of butter in the batter though.


Hi Josh,

This looks like an insanely good treat for pistachio lovers -- and I'm certainly one of those. It does sound like a big butter-to-flour ratio but if it turns out as lovely as your pic...mmmm, well worth it. Thanks for sharing the recipe -- and I eagerly await news of gnudi di spinaci...


Josh, thanks for the recipe and beautiful photo. I love pistachios in any form and will try this one ASAP! By the way, best of luck today on the Bloggies. ;-D


Thanks Julie. I do want to make those gnudi. They look pretty easy, but require 24 hours, so that will mean some planning . . .

Thanks Viv! Alas, it looks like it was not meant to be. My congratulations to the winner, Cooking for Engineers.


What a coincidence; I made a pistachio and date loaf just a few days ago too!

It is quite good too, so please try it out whenever.

Gorgeous picture; I love it!


I made it and was very impressed.

I used a normal 9x5 tin and it was OK, although the edges did get a little too brown before the centre set.


Do you think this would taste better after sitting a day? (obviously, that would involve making two cakes and devouring one while the other sits).


How much is 2.24 sticks butter in ounces?


Hi Anna,

One stick equals 4 ounces, so it would be 9 ounces in all.


Thanks for your prompt reply Josh
Is a cup measure for the flour and nuts also equal to 4oz?
And is all purpose flour plain flour or self raising flour?


Hi Anna,

This is where my baking skills break down! A cup is equal to 8 fluid ounces, but when we're talking about something like nuts, you are probably better sticking to volume measurements, I would think. Are you using metric? How about converting cups into litres?


Please could soemone clarify the meaning of 'all-purpose flour' and explain what weight of nuts is needed in grammes or ounces. And is 'superfine' the same as caster sugar?


To Madeira Faye: "all-purpose" flour is the same as "plain" flour and superfine sugar is the same as caster sugar. A cup of plain flour weighs about 140 grams, a cup of sugar weighs 200 grams and a cup of pistachios weighs about 130 grams. You can work it out from there.


How about using normal measurements such as grams and kilograms...that can be measure on a scale. Specifying an oven temperature would be rather useful too.


for those who use metric - the original recipe says:

Oven temp 150C

270g butter
250g caster sugar
50g almonds
60g pistachio
40g flour

for the topping it is 50g sugar, 60g nuts


A cup of plain flour weighs about 140 grams, a cup of sugar weighs 200 grams and a cup of pistachios weighs about 130 grams. You can work it out from there.


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wow that looks really good


very nice article thanks for the share


Thanks for posting about this, I would love to read more about this topic.


Not only does Moustache make great lahmajun and merguez sausage sandwiches


this cake is very nice. I think this must be very delicious.


The cake looks like so delicious.I hope to buy it.


Is that good looking?
I got a little confused.
Just so so.


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It was a very nice idea! Just wanna say thank you for the selective information you have distributed.


So perhaps this is obvious, but is it okay to use salted pistachios for this cake, or is it supposed to be made with the unsalted?

[Definitely use unsalted -- JF]


This is looking delicious cake.


Pretty interesting site you’ve got here. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to them.


woo, it looks nice,and it is a beautiful one i have ever seen before.


Ahhhhhh. Still waiting for my cake to cook! After 2 hrs it is still a buttery slop! Now I know why! I was tres lazy and followed the comment above by Alex for the measurement conversions without checking and they are Wrong!!! Double the nuts people! But don't take my word for it - work it out for yourself!!
Oh - and if that comment could be removed it would help the other lazy people like me not to mess up


There are a lot of people I know that would love this recipe! Even though the dish in the picture doesnt look too inviting, from the ingredients that are added to make the dish I'm sure it would be tasty!


Thank you for taking this opportunity to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and I take pleasure in learning about this kind of topic.


This cake is very nice. I think this must be very delicious.Cool!


I love pistachios


Szia, nagyon szép munkát végzett, sok embert keres a most fognak talál elegendő forrás az Ön tippeket, még várjuk a további tippeket, hogy


I'll try to do it


Pistachio cake looks weird than other usual cake; but it really taste good. With your recipe I can now make them my own. Thanks


You will always like Italian desert.Pistachio cake is the item specially made in London River Cafe and is very tasty.Please check it whenever you get a chance.


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Well, another very interesting article you have got here i would be happy if you write more stuff like this Thanks to sharing.


Thanks Viv Alas! it looks like it was not meant to be. My congratulations to the winner


Thank you for this nice recepie, I tried it and it turnout out great and very tasty, every body loved it. A very simple strait forward recipie.


came across this recipe an would luv to make it, would it be possible to make as a round cake ?


I absolutely love this cake! I also posted it on my blog together with an illustration


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