Pistachio Cardamom Pound Cake

Pistachio Cardamom Pound Cake features a classic Middle Eastern flavor pairing — it’s an unusual and delicious cake perfect with coffee or tea.

My last pistachio cardamom pairing was in a granola, and I’ve been plotting another way to use the two flavors for a while now.   Pistachio and cardamom go hand in hand in lots of recipes from India and throughout the Middle East.  You’ll find the combination in ice cream, (kulfi) and rice puddings, to cakes, candies and cookies.

I used lots of fresh shelled pistachios in my pound cake, with cardamom in the batter and the glaze.  I also added vanilla bean paste to round out the flavors.  I keep two jars of the stuff in the cupboard at all times because I’m completely hooked on it.  It’s a thick paste made with vanilla beans, and one tablespoon of the paste is equal to a whole vanilla bean.  I’ve been so disappointed by those thin, dried out beans that cost $13, that I’ve switched to the paste for most recipes.  It gives great flavor, and all the vanilla specks you could want.

It shouldn’t be so hard to find unsalted pistachio nuts, but it can be.  Sometimes they’re stored in out of the way spots in stores, so be sure to ask if you can’t locate them.  They are freshest in their shells, and it doesn’t take long to shell them because as pistachios ripen their shells pop open naturally.

I love the parrot green color of  these nuts.  I include both ground and chopped nuts in this cake.  The ground nuts act almost like additional flour, and the chopped nuts add texture.  I used a good amount of cardamom both in the cake and in the frosting, and it’s definitely assertive, but not overwhelming.  I can’t get enough cardamom.  Is everybody with me on this?  I love the color, the floral aroma, the mellow complex flavor…I love the ground stuff and the whole pods.  Cinnamon can’t even begin to compete.

I did add one drop of green food coloring, but looking back on it, I’m not sure it did anything.  I wanted the cake to have a hint of color, and I was worried that the nuts alone wouldn’t do it.  The choice is up to you.

Pistachio Cardamom Pound Cake

Pistachio Cardamom Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachios (see note)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios (plus extra for garnish)
  • 1 rounded tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 drop (no more!) green food coloring
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • for the glaze, mix together:
  • 2/3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • enough heavy cream for thinning

Instructions

  1. Set oven to 350F
  2. Mix the first 7 dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and blend until smooth.
  5. Mix the buttermilk, food coloring (if using) and vanilla paste together in a bowl or measuring cup.
  6. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet to the butter and sugar. Begin and end with the dry ingredients, beating just until blended with each addition.
  7. Turn the batter into a buttered and floured 9x5 loaf pan. I like to line it with parchment paper with overhanging edges to make it easier to remove for glazing and slicing.
  8. Bake for about 55 minutes to an hour, until a toothpick comes out without raw batter clinging to it. The top will be risen and lightly golden.
  9. Cool for a few minutes in the pan, and then remove to a rack.
  10. Glaze the cake when it is almost completely cool. Dust with crushed pistachio nuts.
http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/pistachio-cardamom-pound-cake/

Notes:  For the ground pistachios use a small food processor to grind the nuts into a flour-like texture.  Then do another batch but leave them chunky.  Save a bit to garnish the cake after glazing.

pistachio cardamom cake-2

You can see I’m having a bit of a love fest with these photos.  Those nuts on the cardamom and vanilla  laced glaze is too much.

I hope you try this one, you won’t regret it.  And you have all weekend to track down those nuts!

41 Comments

  • Reply
    Brinda
    March 12, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Love this! Have made it a handful of times now, and the best has been when I add much more powdered pistachio. I also cut the sugar down a bit because with the icing it’s too sweet for me. Most recently, I added a bit of rosewater in the icing to give it a full Indian flair. Will try it with a bit of saffron next time. Thanks again for posting this – beyond fantastic!

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 12, 2017 at 8:32 pm

      Thanks so much for taking the time to come back and comment, Brinda ~ your ‘tweaks’ sound amazing, especially the rosewater!

  • Reply
    Kat
    December 13, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Hi! Can you double the recipe and make this in a bundt pan?
    Kat

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 13, 2016 at 8:39 am

      If your pan is large enough you should be able to, don’t fill it more than 3/4 full!

  • Reply
    Cindy
    December 7, 2016 at 6:55 am

    The aroma wafting through the apartment while this was baking should have been reward enough (I’m trying to watch my calorie intake), but it wasn’t. My husband and I could hardly wait until the cake was cool enough to even glaze, let alone to let the glaze set. The consensus was that if you want to have a refined, subtle, yet totally seasonal ( and sensational!) taste of the holidays, you can’t go wrong with this little gem. Thank you so much for the recipe.

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 7, 2016 at 8:20 am

      Thanks so much for coming back to let me know Cindy, I love to hear reports like this ;) Have a wonderful holiday season!

  • Reply
    Cindy
    December 7, 2016 at 6:54 am

    The aroma wafting through the apartment while this was baking should have been award enough (I’m trying to watch my calorie intake), but it wasn’t. My husband and I could hardly wait until the cake was cool enough to even glaze, let alone to let the glaze set. The consensus was that if you want to have a refined, subtle, yet totally seasonal ( and sensational!) taste of the holidays, you can’t go wrong with this little gem. Thank you so much for the recipe.

  • Reply
    Cindy
    November 29, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    My husband and I love the taste of cardamom, and how can you ever go wrong with nuts? We live in a small town in Germany where the grocery store shelves are not well stocked, so for all of you who may be in the same boat, and find prices online a bit steep to purchase vanilla bean paste, do conduct an internet search for DIY vanilla bean paste. It’s a little more affordable that way, despite the cost of vanilla beans, and the quality is very similar to the commercial brand which I used for years. Thank you for the wonderful recipe, I’ll try it soon.

  • Reply
    Cassie M
    October 24, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    In love with this! Is there a way to appropriate this recipe to muffins or even mini muffins for my prescholer??

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 25, 2016 at 5:50 am

      You can try, Cassie. Pound cake has a denser texture than muffins, though, so just be aware of that.

  • Reply
    Patty
    June 15, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    I just made this recipe and was a bit disappointed that it did not rise. I went back to scrutinize the recipe and was wondering why you only used 1/4 tsp of baking powder? I always thought that for each cup of flour one should add 1 tsp of baking powder. I’m thinking this might have been the cause. Just asking. It does taste delicious in spite of the looks and I will attempt it again.

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 15, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      I checked some of my other pound cake recipes and that’s what I often use, combined with a bit of baking soda, too. Pound cakes don’t generally rise as much as regular cakes because of their dense texture. You could certainly try a little more next time, and make sure to cream the butter and sugar together until really light and fluffy.

  • Reply
    Julia
    June 3, 2016 at 2:15 am

    Just found this pic via Pinterest and am so glad I didn’t miss it! Will definitely bake such a cake for the weekend and hope it will look (and taste!) as delicious as yours!

  • Reply
    Truffle lover
    May 4, 2016 at 3:40 am

    Has anyone tried subbing gluten free flour mix in this recipe?

  • Reply
    Pat
    March 15, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    I am interested in making this for a friend of mine but he is vegetarian and does not eat eggs. Do you think I can get away with using ‘flax eggs’ instead? Any feedback is appreciated. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 15, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      I wish I had an answer but I’ve never used flax eggs, Pat. My best advice is to give it a try!

  • Reply
    Gina
    July 26, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I made this recipe again today. As always, I’m amazed at how truly perfect it is. I’m tempted to try to work some rose water into the glaze for a middle eastern twist but the original recipe is so lovely that I’m loathe to mess with it!

    • Reply
      Gina
      August 3, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      I ended up adding a bit of rose water after all and it was lovely! I’m thinking of adapting this recipe as a cake instead of a loaf and working the cardamom/rose water combo into a Swiss buttercream, tinted light pink, with pistachios sprinkled on the top… I have a friend in mind who would probably be thrilled with this as a birthday cake.

      • Reply
        Sue
        August 3, 2014 at 3:09 pm

        Your alterations sound fabulous, I love the thought of the pink tinted icing with the pistachios!

  • Reply
    Little Chef - Badooba
    June 22, 2013 at 5:53 am

    Hi!
    I made this yesterday for a get together with 20 friends and it was a HUGE HIT!! i mean absolutely every single one of them was begging for more and asking for the recipe!!! it was so so sooooo goood!!!! THANK YOU!!!

    I made the following changes: increased the ground pistachios to 1 cup and omitted the food colouring all together. i put the roughly chopped 1/2 a cup as well!

    I also did not put the icing on top. instead i made a vanilla bean cardamom whipped cream and some dried isphahan rose petals. it was AMAZING! i would, however, reduce the sugar to 3/4 of a cup the next time.

    I will be making this again and again!! thank u again for the amazing recipe!

    Love,
    Elly from Singapore!

  • Reply
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    June 16, 2013 at 4:31 pm

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  • Reply
    Pink Patisserie
    June 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I love this! I am a huge cardamom freak, but I’ve never had it with pistachios. Must try! Such lovely photos too.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    grace
    June 10, 2013 at 8:50 am

    oh, i like this a lot, sue! pistachios give great color, crunch, AND flavor!

  • Reply
    Hungry Dog
    June 9, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Wow, this is gorgeous and so unusual! I am a sucker for cardamom in anything, but this looks like a particularly good idea!

  • Reply
    shannon weber
    June 9, 2013 at 11:13 am

    mmmm, pound cake! Easy to become obsessed with: no portioning out batter, often pretty forgiving in terms of putting things together, and is sort of just like one gigantic muffin in flavor, right? i completely understand. Aren’t pistachios the best color? they really are such a nice green; i like the chopped ones on top especially.

    what is up with the dried-out vanilla beans? it’s ridiculous, and i’m happy i’m not the only one who feels that way; it’s so hard to get good ones you don’t have to wrestle with/plump yourself/etc just to get the seeds out of. I need to look for vanilla paste, because i don’t know that my local market has it, but i’m sure I can find it near me somewhere.

    • Reply
      Joanne
      June 23, 2014 at 9:45 pm

      King Arthur Flour has vanilla bean paste.

  • Reply
    Carmel McHale
    June 9, 2013 at 12:46 am

    I’m another cardamom lover…have so many different recipes that I’ve tried or will be trying. This one looks so good and will have to try it as soon as I get the ingredients from the market. Thanks!

  • Reply
    katrina hall
    June 8, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    Beautiful combination, Sue!

  • Reply
    Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
    June 9, 2013 at 1:46 am

    I hear that – I SO prefer cardamom to cinnamon. And vanilla bean paste is amazing! Now I need this lovely green poundcake in my life!

  • Reply
    belleau kitchen
    June 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    I too love the simplicity of a pound cake… was just this minute writing on another blog how much I adore cardamom in sweet things, it has such a depth of flavour and works really well with pistachios and honey, very Greek!… the colour here is stunning too… can’t wait to receive mine in the post (ahem…)

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      Thanks, Dom, I love the color, too. It helps to use fresh pistachios because I think they lose some of that bright green as they get old.

  • Reply
    Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)
    June 8, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Wow! Gorgeous pound cake! Pistachios are the best and I don’t use them nearly enough in my kitchen. I definitely need to make this!

  • Reply
    annie@mostlovelythings
    June 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    This looks amazing Sue! If it’s half as good as it looks…it would be perfect!

  • Reply
    Amy
    June 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Beautiful flavors and photographs, Sue! Pistachio is definitely one of my favorite flavors. Unfortunately, it is near impossible to find raw, unsalted pistachios in any of the stores near me….such a shame. Nice tip about the vanilla bean paste though — I’ll have to check that out.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 8, 2013 at 6:16 pm

      Mine were roasted, and I think most all of them I’ve found are roasted. But there’s always online, and I’ve been tempted to stock up on good quality nuts that way.

  • Reply
    La Table De Nana
    June 8, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I bet it is delicious..Love pistachios..even the color is gorgeous to me.

  • Reply
    Penny
    June 8, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I love cardamom and am always looking for ways to use it. This pound cake with pistachios and cardamom sounds divine. Now if I can only find the vanilla bean paste. Thanks Sue for a great recipe. Great photos too.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      I’ve been seeing the paste at better grocery stores, and I even find it at Marshall’s and TJ Maxx! Stores are starting to stock so many more baking specialty items lately, it’s only a matter of time! Hope you try this one, it is really great.

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