Pistachio Cardamom Pound Cake

Pistachio Cardamom Pound Cake features a classic Middle Eastern flavor pairing of warm cardamom spice and crunchy pistachios — 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.


Other pound cakes to try ~


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 (unsalted) 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.
https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/pistachio-cardamom-pound-cake/

Notes:

  • For the ground pistachios use a small food processor to grind unsalted nuts into a fine meal.  You can use a knife to chop the nuts for the topping.

 

Don’t forget to pin this cardamom pistachio pound cake!

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51 Comments

  • Reply
    Donna
    June 8, 2018 at 6:50 am

    Great cake! But unsalted pistachios should clarified in the ingredient list. It just says pistachio.

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 8, 2018 at 7:00 am

      I’ll change that, thanks Donna :)

  • Reply
    Ruslana
    November 29, 2017 at 1:11 am

    The recipe looks amazing. All my favorite flavors. Could you write ingredients in grams because I am never sure how American measuring system works. Would really apriciate. Can’t wait to make it.
    Thank you in advance

    • Reply
      Aarti
      March 4, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      Hi Sue,

      This recipe sounds really exciting! Could you, however, clarify what you mean by alternately add the wet and dry ingredients? I’m not really an expert baker or anything, and just want to get the instructions right before attempting it?
      Many thanks!

      Dr. Aarti

      • Reply
        Sue
        March 4, 2018 at 3:07 pm

        Hi Aarti ~ that just means to add a little of each at a time, alternating between them, so you aren’t dumping everything into the bowl at once. This helps keep the batter light. So start with a little of the dry ingredients and mix it in. Then add a little of the wet, and back and forth until it’s all incorporated.

        • Reply
          Aarti
          March 5, 2018 at 9:12 am

          Thanks Sue! :)

        • Reply
          Aarti
          March 6, 2018 at 1:47 pm

          Hi,

          Just to let you know that I made this cake for my son’s birthday and it turned out fantastic. Great recipe! Thanks :)

          Dr. Aarti

          • Sue
            March 6, 2018 at 3:10 pm

            I’m so pleased, thanks Aarti!

  • Reply
    Jill
    July 14, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    This looks so good! I was wondering whether I can substitute the butter milk with sour cream (since I happen to have one in the fridge and I want to use it up)? If so what would be the suggested amount? CAN’T WAIT to try it this weekend :)

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 14, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      I haven’t tried that Jill, but I would recommend starting with the same amount of sour cream. Maybe thin it down a little bit with milk, if you have it.

  • 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.

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