Another year has passed. I mean, there are 10 days left, but really, where did time go? After a crazy hockey winter, we had a super lazy summer this year, before another hectic school and hockey season started. The main goal this year was to say no to overscheduling, reduce optional activities, and focus on quality time with friends and family instead. It’s very liberating and we definitely intend to keep this going.
With the unbusying of our lives, there was also some time to revive old hobbies and try new things. I’ve always had a sweet tooth and while I try to limit my sugar intake, when I do eat desserts, they better be amazing. So, this year I started baking cakes. Mainly for the flavor because all the traditional standard flavors you usually get it in store-bought or restaurant desserts are soooo boring. I mean a chocolate or vanilla cake can be really good, but also not very exciting. When I eat the sugar, I want to make it an experience! Who is with me?
New and interesting flavor pairings are my favorite part about desserts. Sure, fancy decorations are good on the eyes, but I’ll always prioritize taste over looks when it comes to cakes. I typically start with some Pinterest recipes and combine or modify them as I prefer. I’m really sorry that you can’t taste this cake right this second, but I decided to use this blog to compile and record my favorite recipes, and maybe you will try to make some cake too some day.
And this, my dear Lincoln is how you write a long wound introduction to a recipe post. I promise the next ones won’t need an explanation. Today, let’s start with the all-around crowdpleaser of the year: A pistachio vanilla cake with honey buttercream.
Pistachio Cake with Honey Buttercream
- 1 cup shelled pistachios
- 1 cup canola oil
- ½ cup plain greek yogurt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- For pistachio flavor: 3/4 package of pistachio pudding powder, OR 1 tsp almond extract (and optional 3 drops of green food coloring)
- 1½ cups sugar
- ⅓ cup flour
- 1½ cups milk
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 1½ cups unsalted butter, soft, cut into small pieces
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3-4 tbsp honey
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter/spray with cooking spray.
- In a food processor, pulse the pistachio meat until it is coarsely chopped. Remove 2 tbsp. Pulse the remaining pistachios until they are finely ground.
- In the bowl of a mixer beat together the canola oil, yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and buttermilk. Add the flour, finely ground pistachios, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined.
- Pour the batter evenly among the 3 cake pans and bake 30-35 minutes, until the tops are just set and no longer wiggly in the center. Remove and let cool five minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pan and turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Cover and let the cakes cool completely before assembling.
- For the buttercream, in a medium heavy saucepan, whisk together the flour and sugar. Add in the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil and then thickens, 10-15 minutes.
- Transfer the hot milk mixture to a stand mixer bowl and mix with the paddle attachment on high speed until cool, about 9 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter, a few pieces at a time, until it is full incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, a few minutes.
- Add in the vanilla and honey and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, chill it and mix again.
- To assemble the cake, place one cake layer top side up on a serving platter. Use a long serrated knife to cut the top so that it is flat and even. Spread a little over a cup of frosting on top. Add the next later and, again, trim so that it is flat. Top with another cup of frosting. Add the remaining cake layer and trim the top again. Spread a thin layer of frosting over top of the cake and smooth out the frosting on the side for the naked frosting look.
- Decorate the cake with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios, dried cranberries, and any edible seasonal flowers you can find. Roses or pea flowers would work well in summer, chrysanthemums in fall.
- The cake batter was adapted from this recipe from Half Baked Harvest. I reduced the sugar, replaced 1 cup of flour with the pistachios and added the pistachio flavoring.
- The buttercream came from this recipe from Eats Well With Others. The buttercream part of it was the bomb, but the cake was a little dry and dense, so I used the modified vanilla cake instead.