Ruby bakes with pis­ta­chios

Ground pis­ta­chios are loaded with flavour and colour, pro­vid­ing a wel­come shot of green to oth­er­wise beige bakes, as ev­i­denced by this ver­dant cake and reg­i­ment of rose tartlets

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - By Ruby Tan­doh

Nut-based cakes can tend to slump into shades of brown and beige, but pis­ta­chios will lift your bak­ing out of that rut and into greener pas­tures. Grind the nut ker­nels to a fine meal and they can be folded through any­thing from cookie bat­ters to cakes, frangi­pane and but­ter­creams.

Both of this week’s recipes call for a food pro­ces­sor or cof­fee grinder to blitz the pis­ta­chios. I try not to be pre­scrip­tive when it comes to kitchen equip­ment (you don’t need fancy gad­gets to bake well – I baked for years in a squalid stu­dent kitchen, us­ing sau­cepans for mix­ing bowls and forks for whisks) but if you can get a cheap cof­fee grinder or mul­ti­pur­pose pro­ces­sor I’d strongly rec­om­mend it. You’ll be able to grind nuts, seeds and spices quickly and eas­ily, un­lock­ing recipes like th­ese, which use ground pis­ta­chio in place of the more read­ily avail­able ground almond.


Us­ing oil in­stead of rich but­ter here helps the pis­ta­chio’s sub­tle flavour take cen­tre stage, yield­ing a sim­ple cake with a soft, ver­dant crumb. A lit­tle car­damom ac­cents and bal­ances the sweet­ness of the sponge and its white choco­late glaze, adding a del­i­cate sharp­ness, though you can leave it out if you’re not fond of it.

Serves 8-10

200g pis­ta­chio ker­nels

250ml sun­flower or almond oil

250g caster sugar

10 car­damom pods, seeds only, ground

1½ tsp vanilla ex­tract

4 large eggs

100g plain flour

1½ tsp bak­ing pow­der

A pinch of salt

For the ganache

200g white choco­late, very finely chopped

50ml dou­ble cream

5 car­damom pods, seeds only, ground

1 Pre­heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease two 20cm-round cake tins – prefer­ably loose-bot­tomed or spring­form ones.

2 Us­ing a cof­fee grinder or food pro­ces­sor, blitz the pis­ta­chios un­til finely ground. Re­serve 2 tsp of the nuts for dec­o­rat­ing. Beat the oil with the caster sugar, the car­damom, vanilla ex­tract and eggs to cre­ate a bat­ter. In a sep­a­rate bowl, com­bine the pis­ta­chio, flour, bak­ing pow­der and salt, then lightly fold it into the bat­ter.

3 Divide the bat­ter be­tween the two tins, level the tops and bake for 25 min­utes, or un­til the cakes are just be­gin­ning to shrink from the sides of the tins and a knife in­serted into their cen­tres comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins be­fore re­mov­ing.

4 Pre­pare the ganache top­ping. Com­bine the white choco­late with the dou­ble cream in a small heat­proof bowl and warm gen­tly ei­ther in the mi­crowave (in 10-sec­ond bursts) or over a pan of barely sim­mer­ing wa­ter. As soon as the choco­late has mostly melted, re­move from the heat and stir gen­tly to com­bine.

5 Add the ground car­damom, then spread thickly over the top of each cake layer. Leave to cool and firm up a bit, then stack the lay­ers and sprin­kle the top with the re­served pis­ta­chio.

Us­ing oil in­stead of rich but­ter helps the pis­ta­chio’s sub­tle flavour take cen­tre stage


Th­ese are much like bakewell tarts – crisp short­crust pas­try, jam, frangi­pane and a slick of ic­ing – but with a rasp­berry and pis­ta­chio flavour base in­stead of the usual cherry and almond. Rose­wa­ter adds a light flo­ral edge, but it’s im­por­tant not to overdo it. Use vanilla ex­tract or or­ange blos­som wa­ter if you pre­fer.

Makes 12

100g un­salted but­ter, soft­ened 100g caster sugar 2 large eggs 100g pis­ta­chio ker­nels, finely ground A few drops of rose­wa­ter, to taste 30g plain flour ½ tsp bak­ing pow­der 150g seed­less rasp­berry jam

For the pas­try

125g un­salted but­ter, cubed 225g plain flour 60g caster sugar 45ml milk

For the ic­ing

150g ic­ing sugar 20ml wa­ter A few drops of rose­wa­ter Ed­i­ble dried rose pe­tals, op­tional

1 First, make the pas­try. Rub the but­ter into the flour and sugar us­ing your fin­ger­tips un­til no vis­i­ble chunks of but­ter re­main. Driz­zle in the milk, then bring the in­gre­di­ents to­gether by mak­ing cut­ting mo­tions through the mix­ture with a small knife un­til all the flour has moist­ened and the dough is start­ing to form small clumps.

2 If the dough feels a lit­tle sticky, press it into a flat­tish disc, wrap it in cling­film and re­frig­er­ate it for 20-30 min­utes be­fore rolling. Oth­er­wise, roll it out on a lightly floured work sur­face un­til it’s 3-5mm thick. Cut cir­cles large enough to line the moulds of a 12-hole muf­fin/cup­cake tin. Gen­tly line the tin with the pas­try cir­cles, re-rolling any of­f­cuts if nec­es­sary. Chill the tin in the fridge for 30 min­utes while pre­heat­ing the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Place a heavy bak­ing tray in the oven to heat – it will help the bases of the tarts to crisp as they cook.

3 Beat to­gether the but­ter and sugar for the fill­ing be­fore adding the eggs, ground pis­ta­chio and rose­wa­ter, to taste. Com­bine the flour and bak­ing pow­der in a sep­a­rate bowl be­fore adding to the wet mix­ture and fold lightly to­gether to com­bine.

4 Dol­lop 1-2 tsp of jam into each chilled pas­try case, then divide the pis­ta­chio mix­ture be­tween them, smooth­ing the tops as you go. Trans­fer to the oven on the pre­heated tray. Bake for 25 min­utes. The fill­ing should be golden and domed. Leave to cool com­pletely.

5 Stir to­gether the ic­ing sugar, wa­ter and rose­wa­ter, so the ic­ing is thin enough to spoon on to the tarts, but thick enough that it won’t run straight off. Scat­ter with a few rose pe­tals, if that’s your kind of thing.

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