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.
Reader Rave ~
“I made the Pistachio Pound Cake the other day. I loved it and so did all my friends, who came over to play bridge and eat! We loved the taste of the cardamom. It’s even better the next morning.” ~Mary
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.
more pound cakes to try
- Perfect Buttermilk Pound Cake
- Maple Pecan Pound Cake
- Triple Coconut Pound Cake
- Triple Vanilla Pound Cake
- Chocolate Pound Cake
Pistachio Cardamom Pound Cake
- 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 or 1/2 cup, unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
- enough heavy cream for thinning
- Set oven to 350F
- Mix the first 7 dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add in the eggs, one at a time, and blend until smooth.
- Mix the buttermilk, food coloring (if using) and vanilla paste together in a bowl or measuring cup.
- 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.
- Turn the batter into a buttered and floured 9×5 loaf pan. I like to line it with parchment paper with overhanging edges to make it easier to remove for glazing and slicing.
- 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.
- Cool for a few minutes in the pan, and then remove to a rack.
- Whisk the glaze ingredients together and spread it over the cake when it is almost completely cool. Dust with crushed pistachio nuts.
- 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.
Questions and Reviews
Made this recipe on a while when my grocery order added in cardamom by mistake. Everything else I already had on hand. Holy cow! Such a treat. It felt elegant enough to serve to company but home-y enough to enjoy on the couch with my kids on the trampoline running in and out. I took the liberty to also add in regular vanilla extract as well because in this house, we measure that with the heart.
I made the recipe–I haven’t tasted it yet, but it snells great as it’s baking! I do tons of baking and cooking and follow loads of recipes and I would say that this recipe is hard to follow–the steps could be written more chronologically, such as saying “butter and flour the baking pan” at the beginning of the recipe and having the butter and sugar listed together directly after the “first seven ingredients” since they need to be creamed together. Also, the step with the buttermilk and vanilla paste should start with the phrase “In a separate bowl”–I didn’t see that part until after I added the buttermilk to the batter. but I’m hoping it turns out OK. The recipe also calls for ground and chopped nuts and then later says “crushed pistachios”. I am a very experienced baker and it took me 45 minutes to prepare (not 15 as listed). All that said, I’m sure it will be delicious!
This is one of my older recipes Danni, I’ll put it on the list for a refresh!
No! I can’t stand Cardamom in desserts or curries or any other place you can use it, it the rest of the cake is delicious
Delicious! And not hard to make at all. I slightly reduced the sugar and still tasted great. Also made a cream cheese and rose syrup frosting.
How many calories for serving?