Pistachio and lemon curd cake

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The saying goes that we eat with our eyes. This is a notion highly applicable to the realm of sweets. The difficult thing about baking cakes is that, often, they can come out of the oven looking less than spectacular – at least compared to the photos in recipe books. This cake throws any worry of a wonky rise or volcanic cake peak out the window. 

I think I’ve found the cake that is perfect for those times when you feel like baking something a little more extravagant without the fuss of layering, filling or icing a cake. Made by baking homemade lemon curd on top of a basic cake batter, the end result is so aesthetically pleasing that you’ll grin with glee when it comes out of the oven. 

Lemon is one of my favourite flavours to cook with. Not only is it easy to integrate into recipes – the zest of half a lemon can do wonders in a cake or whipped into cream – but I find that it balances the sweetness of baked goods perfectly. 

Making your own lemon curd isn’t that difficult at all. I was a bit sceptical at first, having failed to make custard many times before, but using a bain marie to heat the eggs and sugar and create that luxurious curd really is a fail-proof method for first timers. The end result is so delicious you’ll never go back to buying store-bought curd again!

The cake batter uses finely chopped pistachios and only a small amount of flour to lend a slightly dense texture and nutty flavour, with a pop of freshness added by a small amount of lemon rind. Spread the velvety, sweet curd on top, sprinkle with more pistachio and flaked almonds and bake until the lovely aroma of citrus and nuts fills your kitchen.

A lot of the sweetness of the cake comes from the lemon curd rather than the cake itself. 

Baking the curd on top of the cake turns it a beautiful caramelised colour, sticky and gooey like molten lemon lava. The crunch of the nuts and stickiness of the baked curd go insanely well together, offset by the wholesome, green-tinged cake layer.

Definitely a cake worth baking again. 

Lemon curd and pistachio cake
From 'Indulgent Cakes by the Australian Women’s Weekly', see recipe here

Lemon curd
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon rind, finely grated
  • ½ cup (125ml) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ¾ cup (165g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 100 g unsalted butter
Pistachio cake
  • 1 ¼ cups (160g) finely chopped pistachios
  • 125 g unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon rind, finely grated
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup (100g) cake flour or plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  1. To make lemon curd, combine eggs, rind, juice and sugar in a medium heatproof bowl; set over a medium saucepan of simmering water. Stir about 10 minutes or until mixture thickens and thickly coats the back of a spoon. Gradually add butter, stirring until smooth between additions. Strain mixture into a medium bowl. Cover surface with plastic wrap; cool. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until chilled.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 22cm (9-inch) springform pan; line base and side with two layers of baking paper. Spray the side lining paper with oil, avoiding the base. Place 1/4 cup (45g) of pistachios in the pan; rotate pan on its side to coat side with pistachios.
  3. Beat butter, sugar and rind in a medium bowl with an electric mixer for 3 minutes until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined.
  4. Sift flour and baking powder into a small bowl, add 2/3 cup (90g) of the nuts; stir to combine. Using a large metal spoon, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined.
  5. Spoon cake mixture into pan; drop pan on work surface to settle the mixture. Spread 1 cup (200g) of the curd over batter, levelling the surface; scatter evenly with remaining pistachios. Cover remaining curd; refrigerate.
  6. Bake cake for 40 minutes; cover surface with a round of baking paper to prevent nuts burning, then bake a further 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean (the top will still be slightly wobbly).
  7. Serve cake warm or at room temperature with remaining lemon curd.

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  1. Yum. I love fresh pistachios in all sweets. Loving the lemon curd combo too!

    1. Pistachio is one of my fave flavours, love it especially in gelato :D

  2. Totally agree with you, lemon really adds that extra touch to dessert. Breaking that sweetness.
    The cake looks so good, heat and baking... must try to conquer haha!

    1. Hehe, baking and heating definitely don't go well together but at least these flavours are good for all year round!

    2. Hehe, baking and heating definitely don't go well together but at least these flavours are good for all year round!