Hello Everyone! Today I have a special post for you as today is my not so little sister’s 19th birthday! Today is also the first time in 4 years that I have been home to celebrate with her and the rest of the family. If you have been following my blog since September last year, you would know that I started getting into baking cakes. I never really liked baking cakes to be honest, only because I find it very time consuming and my level of patience does have a limit. Since I started baking cakes, my Mom and sisters now prefer a homemade birthday cake instead of an expensive and cliché store-bought cake. So on Sunday, with the help of the birthday girl, we baked her birthday cake together. We baked it on Sunday even though her birthday is today. Why? Well only because tomorrow we’ll be off for a 1-month vacay to the Philippines, and if we had baked it today, leftovers would be sitting in the fridge until April.
Today’s cake recipe has been slightly adapted from, and can be found on Joanne Eats Well With Others. As you have already read from the title, it is a 3-layer pistachio cake with honey vanilla buttercream. I decided to add the strawberries and crushed pistachios on top to bring some life and colour to the presentation of the cake. I substituted some ingredients, such as instead of using cream of tartare, I used lemon juice instead. I barely use cream of tartare in my baking and buying a jar of it didn’t seem very economical as I know it’ll just sit in the pantry waiting for its expiry date. Also, instead of cake flour, also because I barely use it, I used plain flour combined with cornstarch instead. The easiest way to do this substitution is to put 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in the bottom of a 1-cup measuring cup, then fill the cup as usual with plain flour and level the top. In addition, I lessened the amount of sugar and butter in this recipe and it still turned out fine for me! I am not a huge fan of overly sweet desserts, and also I had to take into consideration my Mom who is a diabetic.
Before I move on to the recipe, I HIGHLY recommend that you buy shelled pistachios. We went to four different grocery stores and could not find any and so we decided to buy the shelled ones. It took forever to shell just over a cup of pistachios – thank goodness I had my Mom and my sisters to do the tedious job while I worked on the batter. Also, have a food processor handy, but if you’re like me and don’t own one, then all you need is a motor and pestle to bash it all up as well as grinding it. It takes time but it gets the job done. I think that’s why towards the end of this cake I was starting to lose a little bit of my patience because everything took longer to do! But hurray for a gas oven! I cannot stress how much I hated using the oven at the Doncaster Lodge. Everything took at least double or triple the normal time to cook!
- 3 & 1/4 cups plain flour
- 1 & 1/2 cups ice water
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 cup shelled pistachios, plus extra for decorating
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 3 large free range egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 large free range egg
- 5 tbsp cornflour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp lemon juice
- 300g unsalted butter, soft, cut into small pieces
- 1 & 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1/3 cup plain flour
- 1/3 cup thickened cream
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 160C or gas mark 3. Grease three 8.5-inch cake pans with a little butter.
- For the Cake Batter: Using a food processor, pulse the pistachios until coarsely chopped. Remove half of the pistachios and transfer to a small bowl. Pulse the remaining pistachios until they are an almost powder-like consistency.
- Transfer to a large bowl and whisk together both the roughly chopped and fine pistachios with the plain flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside
- Cream the butter using an electrical mixer on high speed for about 3 minutes. Add in the sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy for about another 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add in the egg, mixing until just combined.
- Turn the mixer to low and add the flour+pistachio mix to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the ice water, mixing each time until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
- In a medium, clean bowl whisk together the egg whites with the lemon juice until soft peaks form, about 3-5 minutes. Fold the egg whites into the batter.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and let them completely cool.
- For the Buttercream: Meanwhile, as the cakes are cooling down, whisk together the flour and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Then, add in the milk and cream, and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil and then thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer the hot milk mixture to a large bowl and mix 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 for a further few minutes. Then add in the vanilla and honey, and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, chill it in the freezer for a while and then mix again.
- Assembly: 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 cake with a very thin layer of frosting for the crumb coating. Put in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes. Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting and decorate as desired.
– Ally xx