Over the past month two of my sister-in-laws have celebrated their 50th birthdays. I couldn't celebrate their special days with them because one of them lives in New York and it just wasn't possible for me to get to her party and the other was on holiday in Italy to mark the occasion. We will get to celebrate another time in the future.
I was at home baking for a market last week and thought if I could bake them a birthday cake which cake would I make. It would have to be something delicious. Both of them enjoy good food and fabulous flavours so I wouldn't want to disappoint on that front. The cake would also have to look right, pretty, but natural, with no food colourings. Then I remembered a recipe I had made before from an copy of Vegan Life magazine - a pistachio and orange blossom water cake.
I love pistachios. To make the pistachio flour needed for this recipe I simply grind the nuts, in batches, in a spice grinder. I love both rose and orange blossom water. Both would work in this cake but I do feel orange blossom has a slight edge. This bake also contains another favourite ingredient of mine - cardamom.
The cake is moist and aromatic and then the icing on top brings a delicious sweetness.
I had bought some edible flowers from Sainsbury's and was desperate to use them. (They sell them in the fresh herb section in my local branch and cost £3 but you get a lot. I put them on a couple of cakes, added to white chocolate bark and put in ice cubes. I'm determined to grow my own but my gardening skills are not the best.) I scattered the flowers with the chopped pistachio over the icing and it just looked so colourful.
Not the cheapest cake to make, because of the pistachios, but I do feel it's absolutely worth it. If you have a special event coming up or maybe a summer gathering I'd really recommend baking this one. It sold out at the market I was attending and people passing by my stall frequently commented on how pretty it looked.
PISTACHIO AND ORANGE BLOSSOM WATER CAKE
160ml sunflower or vegetable oil (with a little more for greasing cake tin)
250g caster sugar
180ml soya yoghurt
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp grated orange zest
100g pistachios, finely ground
200g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp fine sea salt
120 ml soya or almond milk
100g non-dairy butter, softened
200g icing sugar
½ tsp orange blossom water
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
50g pistachios, roughly chopped
Seasonal edible flowers
Heat the oven to 160°C /fan 140°C (gas 2-3). Oil a 20cm cake tin then line the base with baking paper.
Beat oil and sugar together. Add yoghurt, orange blossom water, vanilla and orange zest and stir until well combined.
Stir ground pistachios, flours, baking powder, ground cardamom and salt together in another bowl. Then gradually add yoghurt mixture to the dry ingredients, alternating with a spoonful of milk. Stir after every addition until smooth but don’t over mix.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 55 mins or until a skewer can be popped in and come out crumb free. Check at about 45 mins and if the top of the cake is getting too brown, cover with foil. When the cake is ready take it on, keep the cake in the tin for about 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool down.
While the cake is cooling, stir together non-dairy butter, sifted icing sugar, orange blossom water, vanilla extract and lemon juice until creamy.
When the cake is completely cold spread the icing on top and then sprinkle chopped pistachios and flowers over.