Lemon & Pistachio Cake



5 oz pistachio nut kernels (whole)

3 oz ground almonds

10 oz caster sugar

6 oz icing sugar

4 large eggs

10 oz butter

2 unwaxed lemons

8 oz plain flour

1 tsp baking powder


Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4.

Place 4 oz pistachio kernels in a food processor or liquidiser and process until the consistency of ground almonds.

Add 2 oz ground almonds, 3 oz caster sugar, 3 oz icing sugar and the white of one egg to the ground pistachios and process until a thick paste is obtained. Divide the paste into two equal portions.


Cream together 7 oz each of  butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy.

Lightly beat the egg yolk and the other three eggs then beat into the creamed mixture a little at a time, adding 1 oz ground almonds after the first of the egg and all but one tablespoon of the lemon juice and zest after the last of the egg.

Fold in the flour (8 oz) and baking powder. The mixture should be glossy and smooth.

Line two sandwich tins with baking parchment and place a quarter of the mixture into each tin – this will look very thin on the base – spread it out with a spatula to cover the base of the tin. (A quarter is between 6 and 7 oz if you want to weigh it into the tins to get it exact.)

Roll out each of the two portions of the pistachio paste to roughly a circle about an inch smaller than the base of the tins. Place one circle in each tin, on top of the cake mixture.

Add the remaining cake mixture, divided equally between the tins, and spread with a spatula to ensure that the pistachio paste is completely covered.


Bake in the centre of the oven for about 40 minutes until well risen  and firm to the touch.


Whilst the cakes are baking, make the filling and topping:

Beat 3 oz butter and 3 oz icing sugar in a food processor or with an electric whisk. Add the last tablespoon of lemon juice just before you stop the machine.


When the cakes are cooked and cooled, spread about ⅔ of the topping over the base of one upturned cake and sandwich to the other cake. Spread the remaining topping over the top of the assembled cake (the topping should have a very easily spreadable and fluffy consistency, a bit like Creme Fraiche, so don’t assemble or top the cake until you are ready to serve as it will soak into the cakes a bit). Finally sprinkle the last 1 oz of pistachio nuts onto the top of the cake. You can coarsely crush them if you wish but I leave them whole.