Make this fluffy pistachio layer cake with rosewater buttercream for a unique birthday dessert (plus a how to bake a level cake)
I can’t believe it has already been a year since I published my first post. Yes, you guessed it right, today is my blog’s first birthday!!! And what better way to celebrate than this amazing, tender, velvety, super fluffy and moist pistachio layer cake filled and frosted with a romantic rosewater scented buttercream. I realize that since this is a Mediterranean focused food blog I could have picked a more Mediterranean-like dessert, such these olive oil baklava fingers, but nothing says happy birthday better than a delicious cake. And besides that, pistachios and rosewater are ingredients commonly used in the Mediterranean cuisine (plus, it had been too long since I last ate a good piece of cake 🙂 )
I wonder if I should write something about my one year as a food blogger. Ha! It still seems funny referring to myself as a food blogger. But yes, I cook some food, take photos of it and then post them on this blog, all things that certainly qualify me as a food blogger!
The best thing that could ever happen this year, actually happened and it was my nomination as a finalist for Best New Voice at the Saveur Blog Awards. Actually, tomorrow is the day when the winners will be announced during a live event in Charleston, and unfortunately, I couldn’t be there, something that makes me really sad. So you can say that today is a bittersweet day for me, like a 70% cacao chocolate bar. It really helps to imagine your days like chocolate. They’re more manageable this way.
Anyway, back to this pistachio cake. After seeing the final photos, I realize that this cake is just perfect for a girly birthday cake since it’s pink and pretty enough for this kind of celebration. The cake itself has a nice pistachio flavor and a pale green color (some drops of food coloring help to achieve this) and the buttercream will remind you of Turkish delights. At first, I thought about melting some Turkish delights and incorporating them into the buttercream (like it incorporated them in this no-churn Turkish delight ice cream) but I changed my mind because I wanted something simpler and easier. So I just added some rosewater into the buttercream. If you can’t find or don’t like rosewater, you can always use vanilla only (increase it to 3 teaspoons), or try it with some orange water for a different flavor profile. Either way, it will be delicious!
Again, to keep things simple, I used two cakes with one layer of filling in the middle, but if you want an even more spectacular birthday pistachio cake, you can cut each cake horizontally into two layers. This way you’ll end up with four cake layers and three filling layers.
How to bake level cakes:
If you want to make your life a little easier, here’s my trick for baking a level cake: I wrap the pans with towel strips soaked in water (squueze them lightly before wrapping the pans) and secured with safety pins. If you have an old, worn out towel, this is the perfect use for it! These strips prevent the edges of the cake from baking too quickly, so the surface rises at the same time, thus remaining level :-). Oh, and a good cake recipe helps too! You can see my DIY cake strips below:
(excuse my strips, they’re not dirty, they’re just a little browned from the times they’ve been in the oven!)
And here’s the cake with minimum dome:
- Bring all the ingredients at room temperature. This is very important for the proper emulsification which will result in a great texture.
- If possible, weight the ingredients for better accuracy.
- If you only have large eggs, use 3 whole and one egg white.
- For the pistachio cakes
- 3 1/3 cups (400 grams) cake flour, sifted
- 5 teaspoons (25 grams) baking powder
- 3/4 to 1 cups (90 grams) roasted pistachios, unsalted
- 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 cup minus 1 heaped tablespoon (210 grams) soft butter
- 4 medium eggs (200 grams), room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups (300 grams) milk, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) vanilla
- 2-3 drops green food coloring, optional
- For the rosewater buttercream
- 1 cup (2 sticks / 250 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 4-5 cups (500-625 grams) confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted (you’ll adjust this according to your preference)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-3 tablespoons rosewater or to taste
- 3-4 drops pink food coloring
- Some chopped pistachios for decoration
- 2 8-inch (20 cm) round pans
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease and line with baking paper two 8-inch round pans. Then, wrap them with wet cake-strips.
- In a food processor, process one cup flour, one cup sugar and the pistachios until finely ground (processing nuts with the flour and sugar prevents them from turning pasty).
- In the bowl of your electric mixer combine all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, pistachios, salt, baking powder, and cardamom) and mix for 10-20 seconds until well combined. Add the butter and mix on low speed until mixture resembles wet sand.
- Combine milk, vanilla and eggs in a jug and mix with a fork just to break down the eggs. Add about three-quarters of the wet ingredients in the bowl and beat on medium to medium-high speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl halfway. You will see the mixture to lighten in color and get fluffier. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and beat for another 30seconds until well combined. Add the green food coloring (if using) and mix well.
- Divide mixture into two pans and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert onto a rack and let the cakes cool.
- For the buttercream, beat the butter and 3 1/2 cups sugar on low speed until well incorporated. Increase speed to high and beat well for 3-4 minutes until very fluffy. Add the salt, the vanilla, the food coloring, and two tablespoons rosewater and beat to incorporate. Taste the buttercream and add more sugar or rosewater to your preference, until you get the consistency you want.
- When cakes are cooled, frost with buttercream and decorate with chopped pistachios.
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