pistachio + lemon cake

A pitachio + lemon cake topped with pistacios drenched in lemon syrup sitting on a white plate.

If you are in search of a unique, flavorful dessert, this lemon-drenched cake featuring pistachio nuts is beautiful enough to double as your centerpiece. And because the lemon syrup adds the appropriate tart zing, the overall cake is not too sweet—which allows the distinctive flavor of the pistachios to shine. I wouldn’t object if you served this with whipped cream, but it stands quite nicely on its own.

pistachio + lemon cake

Serves: 6
Cooking Time: 50 minutes


  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, finely ground in a miniprocessor
  • Zest of 2 lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 cup (1½ cubes) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • Syrup:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/3 cup pistachios



Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan or springform pan, and line the base and sides with parchment paper.


In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, baking powder, ground pistachios, and lemon zest. Mix and set aside.


In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is thick and pale. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.


Remove the bowl from the mixer, and fold in the flour mixture by hand. (Be careful not to overmix or the cake will be tough.) Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan.


Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.


To make the syrup, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture just to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer until the syrup has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.


Add the lemon zest and pistachios (or leave the pistachios out at this point and pile them onto the cake later, as shown in the photo). Let the syrup sit until cool, about 20 minutes.


Turn the cake out onto the rack, peel away the parchment paper, then invert the cake back onto a serving plate. For dramatic effect, pile the unchopped pistachios in the center of the cake. Slowly spoon the warm syrup evenly over the top, using all of the syrup. Cool completely before serving.

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