Friday, March 22, 2013

Orange Pistachio Cake

Last year, my good friend, Rebecca, wanted me to make her a cake and cited her upcoming half birthday as the perfect excuse. I balked at the idea at first, but then decided that I'd halfway acquiesce by making her a half birthday cake. It was a hit, so this year to celebrate another year gone by, I thought it would be fun to surprise her with a half birthday lunch.

Unfortunately, after planning and baking, she was sick and couldn't attend!! It was a bummer, but I hope that next year we'll be able to celebrate her twenty-eight and a half years on this good Earth. Happy Half, Rebecca! Hope you get better soon!

To quote my co-worker, Cara, "To be honest, I was skeptical but this is really good." I know this recipe is different, but it is a great cake, especially for those of you who don't really like cake. It isn't too sweet, the flavors are subtle, and the texture is perfect. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

For a gluten-free sweet inspired by this cake, try these Orange Pistachio Meringues.

Orange Pistachio Cake
cake recipe adapted from recipe by Rick Tramonto

Pistachio Cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 scant cup shelled pistachios, finely chopped*
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven 350 degrees

Cream together the butter and sugar, about 1 minute on high. Mix in eggs one at a time until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients, nuts and orange zest. Add half the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture, then the milk and vanilla, followed by the remaining flour mixture.

Pour into greased 8" cake round, lined with parchment paper. Bake for ~40 minutes or until middle is set and inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely on cooling rack before icing.

*Measure one scant cup of whole pistachios. Place in food processor and pulse until a fine, crumbly mixture forms. Do not over-process or you'll end up with more of a paste. You may also chop by hand, though you'll end up with a coarser meal.

Orange Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest, minced
1/2 pound confectioner's sugar

Combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and orange zest in an electric mixing bowl. Beat on high until ingredients are well combined. Mix in sugar one half cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically.

Eat up!

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