PISTACHIO CAKE RECIPE

pistachio cake recipe

Pistachio Cake
Makes 8 to 10 servings

8 ounces raw pistachios

For the génoise
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup unsifted cake flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Pistachio Bavarian Cream
4 ounces pistachio nuts (from above)
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons gelatin
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder, optional

Prepare the pistachios
1. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil, pour in the pistachio nuts (4 ounces from the recipe for Bavarian cream and 4 ounces from the ingredients for the decoration), and bring just to the boil. Immediately pour the nuts into a sieve and shake to remove as much moisture as possible. The skins slip off easily while the nuts are moist and warm. Set aside half the nuts.

2. Place half the blanched nuts on a baking sheet and allow them to air-dry for 3 hours or as long as overnight. Then place in a preheated 300°F (175°C) oven to roast them slightly, enhancing their flavor but without coloring them (about 5 to 10 minutes). Remove from oven. When the nuts are cool, grind them to the consistency of cornmeal. Set aside until time to decorate the dessert.

Make the génoise
3. Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Using a paper towel, grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with solid shortening. Dust generously with all-purpose flour, tilt to coat, tap out the excess, and insert a parchment or waxed paper liner.

4. Chop the chocolate into matchstick-size pieces and place them with the butter in a 1 1/2-quart mixing bowl that fits snugly over another bowl half-filled with hot (140°F) water. (The water temperature can be this high because the addition of butter reduces the risk that the chocolate will scorch.) Stir occasionally until the mixture is melted and smooth; remove from the water; set aside to cool slightly.

5. Pour the flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and baking powder in that order into a triple sifter. Sift onto a sheet of waxed paper to distribute the ingredients evenly; set aside.

6. Place the eggs and egg yolks in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Add the 1/4 cup sugar and whisk ingredients by hand to combine. Rest the bowl in a shallow pan, such as a 10-inch skillet, filled with 1 inch of hot tap water (120°F). To prevent the eggs from setting, whisk them continuously for about 30 seconds, or until the mixture has warmed to body temperature, taking care that the temperature doesn’t exceed 110°F. Rub a little of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger; it should feel smooth, not granular.

7. Place the bowl on the mixer, and with the whisk attachment, whip the mixture on medium speed (#5) until it has cooled and thickened, appears paler in color and resembles a whole-egg meringue, and has tripled or more in volume (about 3 minutes). Add the vanilla toward the end of whipping. Test if it’s time to fold in the flour by lifting the whisk. If some of the mixture falls back into the bowl in ribbons and remains on the surface, proceed. But if it sinks back into the batter right away, continue whipping for a few more minutes, or until the desired consistency is achieved. Remove the whisk and bowl from the mixer.

8. With the aid of a flexible metal icing spatula, scoop one-third of the flour mixture and sprinkle it over the top. Using a rubber spatula, fold into the batter just until incorporated. Fold in the remaining flour in two more additions. With the aid of a rubber spatula, gently pour one-third of the batter onto the chocolate mixture, and fold until combined. Now pour the rest of the batter onto the chocolate mixture and fold together until combined.

9. Gently pour the batter into the prepared pan, taking care not to deflate the foam structure you’ve created. With the rubber spatula, level and smooth the surface. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until the top springs back slightly when lightly touched and the sides begin to contract from the pan. Do not overbake.

10. Place the cake on a rack to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. With mitts, tilt the pan, and gently tap it to see that it has contracted from the sides. If not, or if in doubt, run a small metal spatula or the thin blade of a table knife between the outside cake edge and the metal rim, freeing the sides and allowing air to get under the layer as it is rotated. Then release and remove the outside of the springform pan. Allow to cool completely on rack.

11. When the cake is cool, cover it with another cooling rack, invert it onto the rack, and carefully remove the springform bottom from the cake. Slowly peel off parchment liner, turn it over so that the sticky side faces up, and reposition it on top of the cake. Cover with the first rack, invert the layer right side up, and remove the top rack.

Make the Bavarian cream
12. Rest a sieve on top of a 3-quart mixing bowl to strain the filling after it has been cooked.

13. Combine the milk and ground pistachios in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour through a second sieve to strain; extract milk from the nuts by pressing them against the sides of the sieve with a rubber spatula. Discard the nuts (their flavor is now in the milk) and measure the flavored milk, adding more milk if needed to make 1 1/2 cups.

14. Pour the water into a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over it, and set aside until softened.

15. Pour the cream and almond extract into a 1 1/2-quart deep mixing bowl, and with an electric hand mixer, whip the cream on medium to high speed (#8 to #10) until peaks barely form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

16. Whisk the egg yolks in a 1-quart mixing bowl to combine, add half the sugar, and whisk until completely incorporated.

17. Return the pistachio-flavored milk with the other half of sugar to medium heat and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and pour about half into the egg mixture, whisking until blended. Pour mixture back into saucepan, whisk, and return to medium-low heat. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it registers 165 to 170°F (71 to 79°C) on the candy thermometer and is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon (about 45 to 60 seconds).

18. Immediately remove from the heat and pour the mixture through the sieve into the mixing bowl. Add the gelatin; stir to dissolve; then set over a larger bowl of ice water. Stir the mixture occasionally to distribute the cold and prevent any lumpiness. When the mixture is syrupy and cooler than room temperature (about 8 to 10 minutes), fold in the chilled, lightly whipped cream with a rubber spatula until combined. If it goes beyond the syrupy stage and develops more body than desired, remove from the cold-water bath and whisk partially setting mixture until smooth. Then fold in the cream.

19. Pour into a container refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until cold and set.

Assemble the cake
20. Lightly oil the inside rim of the springform pan to facilitate the dessert’s removal. Trim 1/2 inch from the cake’s edge, using a small paring knife. Place a round of parchment or waxed paper inside the pan and center the génoise on it (this will make it possible to remove the dessert from the metal disk to a serving plate later).

21. The springform pan may leak, so place it on a baking sheet. (Once assembled, the dessert will go into the freezer for a short time to hasten the setting of the cream, so be certain the baking sheet fits in your freezer.)

22. Pour Pistachio Bavarian Cream into the springform pan, being certain that the gap between the trimmed cake and pan is filled, thus completely covering the génoise. The filling will come 1 inch below the springform’s top rim. Place the dessert in the freezer for 30 minutes to hasten the chilling and setting of the Bavarian cream. Cover the top of the pan with foil. Then refrigerate for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight.

Serving the cake
23. Up to 6 hours before serving, remove the dessert from the refrigerator and pat a damp sponge all around the outside of the pan. The moisture from the sponge will begin to loosen the Bavarian cream from the inside of the pan. Carefully and slowly release the springs on the pan to unmold. If the springs are stubborn, coax them with a thin-bladed knife around the edges.

24. Place the reserved ground dried pistachios on a baking sheet. Hold the dessert in one hand directly over the nuts. Tilt the cake slightly. With the other hand, pick up the ground nuts, and gently press them onto the sides and top of the Bavarian cream. Rotate the cake as you work until all the cream is covered. Press lightly with the side of a clean flexible metal icing spatula to ensure that the nuts adhere neatly. Alternately, coat only the sides of the Bavarian Cream with the ground nuts.

OPTIONAL DECORATION PREPARATION
If desired, make a template for a finishing touch: Buy acetate from an art supply store. (The joy of an acetate template is that it is reusable. To clean, run under water and pat dry.) Trace the letter P from an art book, newspaper, etc., with a pencil or felt pen. Cut it out, using a utility knife. The thinner the acetate, the easier it is to cut. The thicker it is, the easier it is to lift it from the cake after using.

If using the P template, center it on top of the cake. Pour the cocoa into a sieve. Using the palm of your hand for better control of the powder’s flow, gently tap the sieve to sprinkle it evenly over the P. Carefully lift the template. Then slip under the paper a large, wide spatula and transfer the dessert onto a serving plate. Refrigerate until 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Flo Braker, The Simple Art of Perfect Baking (Chronicle, 2003)

LEMON PULL-APART COFFEE CAKE RECIPE

“Lemon and cream cheese have long been classic companions in American baking, and this fun-to-assemble, sweet-tart filled coffee cake makes it easy to see why. Showcasing the lively flavors of fresh citrus, the sweet, buttery filling is made with fluffy, fragrant lemon and orange zest. The warm loaf is brushed with a zippy cream cheese icing, whose tangy flavor marries marvelously with the sunny taste of citrus. Enjoy a slice of this pull-apart coffee cake whenever you need a pick-me-up.” –Flo Braker

LEMON PULL-APART COFFEE CAKE RECIPE

Lemon Pull-Apart Coffee Cake
Makes one 9-by-5-inch cake; 14 servings

For the pull-apart sweet dough
About 2 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the lemon filling
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 to 3 lemons, preferably organic)
1 tablespoons finely grated orange zest, preferably organic
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

For the cream cheese icing
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Make the pull-apart sweet dough
1. Mix the dry ingredients: Stir together 2 cups (9 ounces) of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.

2. Mix the wet ingredients: In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat just until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, add the water, and set aside until warm (120 to 130°F [49 to 54°C]), about 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract.

3. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together: Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Attach the bowl to the mixer, and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing jjust until incorporated after each addition. Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) flour, and resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30 to 45 seconds. Add 2 more tablespoons flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.

4. Knead the pull-apart dough: Sprinkle a work surface with 1 tablespoon flour and turn the dough onto the flour. Knead gently until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky, about 1 minute, adding an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons flour only if the dough is unworkably sticky. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm place (about 70°F [21°C]) until doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes. Press the dough gently with a fingertip. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for the next step.

Make the lemon filling
5. Make the citrus sugar: While the dough is rising, in a small bowl, mix together the sugar, lemon zest, and orange zest. Set aside. (The sugar draws out moisture from the zests to create a sandy-wet consistency, so don’t be alarmed when you see this.)

Assemble the coffee cake
6. Ready the oven: Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Lightly butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan.

7. Shape and cut the dough: Gently deflate the dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle with a short edge facing you. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted butter generously over the dough. Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips, each about 12 by 4 inches. (A pizza cutter is helpful here.) Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the zest-sugar mixture over 1 of these buttered strips. Top with a second strip and sprinkle it with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the zest-sugar mixture. Repeat with the remaining strips and zest-sugar mixture, ending with a stack of 5 rectangles. Work carefully when adding the crumbly zest filling, or it will fall off when you have to lift the stacked pastry later.

8. Fit the dough into the pan: Slice the stack crosswise through the 5 layers to create 6 equal strips, each about 4 by 2 inches. Fit these layered strips into the prepared loaf pan, cut edges up and side by side. (While there is plenty of space on either side of the 6 strips widthwise in the pan, fitting the strips lengthwise is tight. But that’s fine because the spaces between the dough and the sides of the pan fill in during baking.) Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place (70 °F [21°C]) until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes. Press the dough gently with a fingertip. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for baking.

9. Bake the cake: Bake the coffee cake until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.

Make the cream cheese icing
10. Make the lemon icing: In a medium bowl with a rubber spatula, vigorously mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the milk and lemon juice until the mixture is creamy and smooth.

11. Remove the coffee cake from the pan: Tilt and rotate the pan while gently tapping it on a counter to release the cake sides. Invert a wire rack on top of the coffee cake, invert the cake onto the rack, and carefully lift off the pan. Invert another rack on top, invert the cake so it is right side up, and remove the original rack.

12. Ice the cake: Slip a sheet of waxed paper under the rack to catch any drips from the icing. Using a pastry brush, coat the top of the warm cake with the icing to glaze it. (Cover and refrigerate the leftover icing for another use. It will keep for up to 2 days.)

13. Serve the coffee cake warm or at room temperature: To serve, you can pull apart the layers, or you can cut the cake into 1-inch-thick slices on a slight diagonal with a long, serrated knife. If you decide to cut the cake, don’t attempt to cut it until it is almost completely cool.

Adapted from Flo Braker, Baking for All Occasions (Chronicle Books, 2008)

BABY LEMON CHEESECAKES RECIPE

Creamy cheesecakes set on a gossamer base of thin sponge cake (biscuit) and topped with lemon curd are a real favorite for a dinner party, an afternoon tea, or any special event. Make all twelve as there will surely be calls for seconds!

Baby Lemon Cheesecakes
Makes: 12
Baking Time: 25 to 35 minutes

Plan Ahead
Chill the composed cakes at least 2 hours before unmolding.
Make the biscuit
Make one biscuit recipe (recipe below)

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese (65° to 70°F)
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/8 teaspoon salt

Lemon Curd:
Makes: 3/4 cup plus 1-1/2 tablespoons
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter 65° to 75°F
4-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
and strained (about 4 large lemons)
pinch salt

Special Equipment:
Two silicone muffin pans, each with six cups (about 4 ounces capacity), coated lightly with baking spray with flour and set on a wire rack. (You can also use aluminum muffin pans lined with foil muffin liners.)

One 18 by 9-inch baking pan or roasting pan large enough to fit the wire rack and to serve as a water bath. (If you have a roasting pan and wire rack large enough to fit both pans, you can bake them at the same time. Alternatively, while the first pan is baking, fill the second pan and refrigerate it covered until ready to bake.)

Subrecipe: Biscuit

Batter:
1/3 cup (or 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sifted into the
cup and leveled off) cake flour (or bleached all-purpose flour)
2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 large eggs, divided, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 cup superfine sugar plus 1 tablespoon, divided
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cream of tartar

Line the Pans:
Cut out the sponge cake with a biscuit cutter or scissors to conform to the size of the bottoms of the muffin cups. Line each cup with a round of cake.

Make the Filing:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and yolks, beating until smooth and scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the lemon juice and salt and beat until incorporated. Beat in the sour cream on low speed just until blended, about 20 seconds.

Fill the Pans:
The easiest way to fill the pans is to pour the batter into a disposable pastry bag, or gallon-size resealable plastic bag, with a small part of one of its corners cut off, and pipe the batter into the cups, filling them almost to the tops (2.2 ounces/63 grams each). Alternatively, scrape the batter into a large measuring cup or pitcher with a spout and pour it in. Set the pan on the wire rack in the larger pan and add very hot water to reach about halfway up the sides of the muffin pan.

Bake the cheesecakes:
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F/70°C. When the pan is moved, the batter will jiggle like jelly and the top will be set and bounce back when pressed lightly.

Cool the cheesecakes:
Remove the large pan to a wire rack and add a handful of ice cubes to the water to stop the heating. Allow the cheesecakes to cool for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the water is cool enough that you can remove the muffin pans. Cover the pans with plastic wrap, being careful not to allow it to touch the surface of the cheesecakes. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour to firm up before topping with the lemon curd. Prepare the lemon curd just before you are ready to pour it on top of the cheesecakes.

Make the Lemon Curd:
Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a medium bowl. In a small heavy saucepan, whisk the yolks, sugar, and butter until well blended. Whisk in the lemon juice and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula and scraping the sides of the pan as needed, until thickened and resembling hollandaise sauce, which thickly coats the spatula but is still liquid enough to pour. The mixture will change from translucent to opaque and begin to turn a yellow color on the spatula. Don’t allow it to come to the boil or it will curdle. Whenever steam appears, remove the pan briefly from the heat, stirring constantly, to keep the mixture from boiling. When the curd has thickened and will pool thickly when a little is dropped on the surface, pour it at once into the strainer and press it through with the back of the spatula.

Apply the Lemon Curd:
Transfer the lemon curd to a pitcher or measuring cup with a spout and pour the hot curd evenly over the top of each cake. Use about 1 tablespoon for each. Smooth the curd or make concentric circles, if desired, with a small metal spatula. Cover the pan carefully with plastic wrap, stretching it so that it doesn’t dip down and mar the top of the curd, or cover the pan with a larger pan, such as a disposable aluminum foil pan. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before unmolding.

Unmold the Cakes:
Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pans and the cakes, pressing firmly against the pans, and with your finger, push up the bottom of the silicone pan. The cheesecake will rise up and out of the pan and can be supported with a small offset metal spatula and then transferred to a serving plate. If using aluminum muffin pans, lift out the cakes by grasping each side of the foil liners. Remove the liners and, if you desire smooth sides, use a small metal spatula run under hot water.

Subrecipe: Biscuit

Batter
1/3 cup (or 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sifted into the
cup and leveled off) cake flour (or bleached all-purpose flour)
2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 large eggs, divided, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 cup superfine sugar plus 1 tablespoon, divided
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cream of tartar

Special Equipment
One 17¼ by 12¼ by 1-inch half-sheet pan, bottom coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray or shortening, lined with a nonstick liner or parchment, and then coated with baking spray with flour.

One 9-inch springform, loose-bottom pan, or a flan ring at least 2½ inches high.

Preheat the Oven
Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.

Mix the Dry Ingredients
In a small bowl, whisk the flour and cornstarch to combine them well.

Mix the Yolk Mixture
Separate 2 of the eggs, placing the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater. Place the egg whites in a medium bowl, preferably another mixer bowl. To the yolks, add the 2 remaining whole eggs, the additional yolk, and ½ cup of the sugar. Beat on high speed until thick, fluffy, and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed and beat in the vanilla. (If you have only one stand mixer bowl, scrape the yolk mixture into a large bowl and whisk very thoroughly. Wash and dry the mixer bowl and whisk beater.)

Make the Batter
Sift half the flour mixture over the egg mixture and, using a large balloon whisk, slotted skimmer, or silicone spatula, fold it in gently but rapidly until the flour has disappeared. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture until all traces of the flour have disappeared.

Beat the Egg Whites into a Stiff Meringue
Attach the clean whisk beater. Beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy. With the mixer off, add the cream of tartar. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised
slowly. Fold the meringue into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and, using a small offset spatula, smooth as evenly as possible.

Bake the Cake
Bake for 7 minutes, or until golden brown and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.

Unmold and Cool the Cake
Unmold the cake at once. (If necessary, loosen the sides with the tip of a sharp knife.) Grasp the long edge of the liner and gently slide the cake onto a flat surface. Allow the cake to cool completely. Remove the liner by flipping the cake over onto a piece of plastic wrap that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray, and reinvert it so that the crust is up. (The top crust needs to be protected as it becomes part of the striped décor, so don’t invert it directly onto the work surface.) If using parchment, you can run a long narrow spatula between it and the bottom of the cake. Leave the cake on the parchment.

Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum from The Baking Bible (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)