Until a month or two ago, I was one of the 100 people who hadn’t read Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. So much of what Kondo discusses not only directly relates to the actual tidying up of the home but deeper emotional connections we have to our things. Before reading this book, I had clothes a few sizes too small in my closet that I kept around. This is despite my overt efforts to eliminate any and all reminders or connections to my physical weight like scales, diet foods, diet books, things like that. But I was still holding on, albeit somewhat sub consciously of the possibility of living in a smaller body in the future and thus the clothes a few sizes too small. I hadn’t tried those clothes on in years but I kept toting them around with me from Wisconsin to Seattle to New Mexico to California – literal emotional baggage.
This book gave me the courage to get rid of all of those clothes – even the expensive ones, even the items I really really liked. Because they were serving no other purpose in my life other than reminding me of a tortured and unhappy past and continuing to taunt me with the hope of someday losing weight and the hope of someday having a better life because of this. A few years ago if I read this book I’m not sure if I would have been able to get rid of those clothes, so I also have to credit myself with the work I’ve done to get to a place to be able to do even do this. This is all to say that it is possible. To recover, to wear clothes that fit you and that you feel beautiful and comfortable in. To be bigger than you used to be. To get rid of your scale, those too small clothes, to embrace who you are now and make room for your true passions. I was too caught up in holding on to these physical manifestations of my desire for thinness that I had no room for embracing my passion of baking from the heart.
This pistachio cake is a labor of love, it is unique, it is delicate yet sturdy. The cake is a white cake mixed with homemade pistachio paste. The frosting is a buttercream mixed with more homemade pistachio paste. This is like the cake version of pistachio gelato. Serve with vanilla ice cream or if you want to really go over the top – pistachio ice cream!
Cake recipe adapted from Zoe Bakes’ adaptation of Abby Dodge’s recipe in The Everyday Baker.
Double Pistachio Cake
- 1 1/4 cup pistachios
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 sticks butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 5 egg whites + 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup pistachio paste
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup pistachio paste
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
For the pistachio paste
In a high-powered blender or food processor, blend pistachios. Keep blending and scraping down the sides until a paste forms. With blender running, drizzle in olive oil. Keep blending till a smooth, looser paste/butter forms. Set aside to use later.
For the cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line with parchment 3 or 2 8 inch cake pans.
In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter for 3 minutes. Add sugar and beat for 3 more minutes. Add pistachio paste and vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds.
Sift together cornstarch and flour. Add baking powder and salt.
Add half of this flour mixture and half of the buttermilk. Mix for 15 seconds. Add the other half of the flour and the other half of the milk, mix for another 15 seconds.
In another stand mixer bowl fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar as you keep whipping the egg whites. Whip until stiff peaks form.
Slowly and carefully fold the egg whites into the flour, butter, and milk mixture until barely any visible egg white remains. Pour into the prepared cake pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
For Frosting and Assembly
In stand mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment beat together butter and pistachio paste. Add powdered sugar and keep beating. Add 1 tablespoon of milk and continue to mix. Add another tablespoon if mixture seems too thick.
If you used 2 cake pans instead of 3, cut the cakes in half using a serrated knife.
Place a dab of frosting on a cake plate or cake round and then place the first later of cake down. Use a generous smattering of frosting to top the cake round and then place the next layer on top, repeating topping with frosting. Frost top and sides of cake.