Pistachio Cake


Preparation info

  • Makes

    10 to 12

    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Simple Art of Perfect Baking

By Flo Braker

Published 1984

  • About

This is the quintessential dessert to show off a distinctive pistachio flavor. The technique in this dessert provides a surprise when sliced, as each serving reveals a layer of chocolate génoise buried in its blanket of gossamer-smooth Bavarian cream.



    Advance Preparations

    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.)

    Lightly oil the inside rim of the springform pan to facilitate the dessert’s removal. Trim ½ 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).

    Prepare Chocolate Génoise.

    Bring cups water to a boil, pour in 8 ounces of pistachio nuts (4 ounces from the recipe for Bavarian cream and 4 ounces from the above 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.

    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-degree 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.

    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.)

    Prepare Pistachio Bavarian Cream.

    Assembling the Cake

    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 pan with foil. Then refrigerate for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight.

    Serving the Cake

    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 edges.

    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.

    Optional Decoration

    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.