It’s been freezing, so I’ve been hunkered down here a bit for the last few weeks and my dear friend Stanley has been cranked to the max. I find the presence of a constantly hot oven generally prompts an insatiable urge for comfort food, and what could be more comforting than cake? While tidying up in a corner of the pantry the other day I stumbled upon a bag of pistachios. Pistachios (apparently a relative of cashews – who knew?) have been grown in the Middle East for many thousands of years – in fact they were said to be growing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Their purplish skin and gorgeous green flesh make them one of the prettier nuts around and they are still hugely popular in one of my favourite cuisines – Middle Eastern cooking.
While winter in the Northern Hemisphere might mean a lack of fresh fruit in many areas, that is not the case here in Australia. We are lucky in this great big land to be able to grow most fresh produce all year round. For most states in Australia, winter means fresh citrus fruit and loads of it. Australia grows some amazing citrus fruit all over the country. At this time of the year we can choose from oranges (Valencias and Navels), lemons, limes, mandarins and grapefruit, and I had a big bag of vibrant, juicy oranges sitting in the kitchen just begging to be treated extra specially. With a nod to the Middle East, it didn’t take me long to think up just one more ingredient to add to take that old family favourite, orange cake, up a notch or two and thus my Pistachio Orange Blossom Cake was born!
Oranges are a perennial favourite as they are rich in fibre, vitamin C and, most importantly, flavor – and adding them to cake is an inspired way to add fruit to the diet. Orange cake is always a crowd-pleaser, but with the simple addition of these special extra ingredients you will have a delicious cake that will be just as at home on the afternoon tea table or the after-dinner table! True to my preferences for keeping things easy, this recipe makes use of an indispensable kitchen appliance, the food processor, making the preparation quick and simple, however the addition of pistachios and orange flower water also make it stylish enough to serve as dessert at your next dinner party.
- ¾ cup unsalted shelled pistachios (approximately 4 ounces, 110 gms)
- 1 cup SR flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ tsp orange blossom water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 100 gms (3 ½ oz) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- finely grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
- Preheat oven to 165C (350F).
- Butter loaf pan and line bottom with waxed paper.
- Using food processor, pulse pistachios until finely ground, about 40 seconds. (Do not over process, or mixture will become paste.) Set aside.
- In processor, at moderate speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add orange rind, sour cream & vanilla, mixing in. Scrape down.
- Add the rest of the dry ingredients and nuts & mix until well combined.
- Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until wooden skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes, then run knife around cake to loosen and invert onto rack.
- Drizzle with glaze made from icing sugar and the juice of the orange, decorate with candied orange peel and chopped pistachios.
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