I’ve been baking a lot lately: mostly making up for the times I couldn’t bake being stuck with a rickety oven and also in celebration of the fact that I can actually spread my arms out in the kitchen and not hit the wall.
I think it’s the cold that’s making me bake loaf cakes that are a spin on the ever-comforting pound cakes (like the chocolate-chestnut loaf I made). The kind I can bake and have sit around for a couple of days and that tastes even better the day after it’s made. I turned to the Rose Bakery cookbook for the pistachio cake recipe – I’d made the cake verbatim a few months ago because I’d enjoyed it so much while having breakfast with Noel when she was it town.
When I baked that cake, it was rich, moist and full of pistachio flavor, but it was also a bit heavy on the butter and it almost felt like halwa than cake. I wanted to make it again, but without being left with greasy fingers. And while I could reduce the butter a lot more to make it like the bright green pistachio cake at the bakery (which I’m going to try the next time), I increased the flour in the recipe to bring it up to the consistency of a pound cake and it worked beautifully. I also added (more than) a big handful of 70% chocolate callets to at the last minute because pistachio + chocolate is a match made in heaven. I added lemon zest into the cake in accordance with the recipe, but I think it might be better with orange zest or even without any citrus at all for the nutty flavors to come through. I also toasted both the almonds and pistachios before I ground them because nuts tastes so much better when you take that extra step. Needless to say, it’s a far cry from Rose Carrarini intended it to be.
There are few things as comforting as a thick slice of this cake, hot tea, fuzzy socks and a book. And if you’re lucky enough to be enjoying the sunshine, you can skip the fuzzy socks and hot tea. Make it.
Pistachio, Almond and Chocolate Chip Cake
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g toasted almonds, ground finely
100g toasted pistachios, ground finely
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
200g 70% dark chocolate (I used callets but you could use chunks cut up from a slab as well)
- Preheat the oven to 170C/350F/Gas mark 4.
- Butter and line the baking pan of your choice with parchment paper.
- Rub the sugar with the lemon zest.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until lighter in colour.
- Mix in the eggs one at a time, making sure that it’s well incorporated before the next addition. Next, stir in the vanilla extract.
- In a bowl, sift together the ground pistachios, ground almonds, flour, baking powder and salt.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the bowl just until it all comes together.
- Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Spoon the cake batter into the baking pan.
- Bake for 40 minutes (for a big loaf cake) or until a skewer comes out clean. Check sooner for the mini loaf cake. Poke the cake again if you hit a piece of chocolate.
In other news, I’m going to have another go at making my own sourdough starter from the Tartine Bread book. Hopefully, it should survive this time because I plan on leaving it on my desk and have it under my nose at all times so I don’t forget to feed it. If you’ve made your own sourdough bread and have tips to share, I’m all ears.