This white chocolate pistachio cake is the secret to a good picnic. Always bring cake. My perfect picnic cake is light enough to consume after quiches and tarts, with fresh flavours and a summery touch. It’s a cake that can be sliced and shared, that you can nibble on or eat in one sitting. Personally, I love the sweet morsels of white chocolate and delicate addition of creamy pistachios for a lavish flavour in this recipe. The wonderfully creamy white chocolate icing – the definition of melt-in-your-mouth delicious – also complements this cake perfectly!
Tips and tricks for the best pistachio flavour:
Usually, nut-based cakes tend to show up in mundane shades of brown and beige, but pistachios undoubtedly lift a cake into different territory. I wanted to really enhance the pistachio flavour here, so I suggest you whizz your nuts into a fine meal and then fold them through your cake batter – rather than roughly chopping. A coffee grinder will also do the trick if you don’t have a whizzer. Pistachios unlike some other nuts are delicious and pretty. They add a layer of luxury and like almonds, tend to have a milky roundness to their flavour – excellent for pairing with white chocolate.
What makes this white chocolate pistachio cake so special?
The sponge is beautifully springy and soft, making it a lighter cake that’s not too rich. The whole milk lightens the crumb and ensures it’s not too heavy. You can make the cake in advance, and store it in an airtight container or plastic wrap for up to three days before assembling and icing. If you’re taking this with you to a picnic, I’d suggest assembling when you get there. Sandwich the two halves of cake with icing and serve with an extra dollop for the top. Then add a sprinkling of extra pistachios or edible roses for decoration.
Ingredients and alternatives:
- Flour: you can easily make your own self-raising flour but substituting it for plain flour and baking powder. Use 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 125g plain flour.
- Milk: whole milk works best in this recipe for its fat content, however you could also use a plant-based alternative or switch in semi-skimmed milk instead.
- Sugar: golden caster sugar is ideal for creamed sponge cakes, with a more caramel flavour. If you don’t have golden caster sugar to hand, you can use regular caster sugar in this recipe too.
- Eggs: this recipe calls for four large eggs. If you only have medium eggs, use FIVE eggs in this recipe.
- Chocolate: the white chocolate in this cake is beautiful. If you’d rather experiment, you could add 25g of sifted cocoa to the sponge (with an extra tablespoon of milk). Then make a milk chocolate buttercream icing instead.
- Nuts: which brings me on to nuts! Pistachios work really well with white chocolate, but if you’re making a milk chocolate variation, choose hazelnuts for your sponge instead.
- Butter: choose unsalted butter for this recipe and make sure you’re not using “spreadable” butter, which is a mixture of vegetable fats and won’t bake as well in the sponge.
- Ground cardamom: I buy this from Sous Chef. You can also omit it completely if you don’t like the flavour, or don’t have any in your kitchen cupboards.
- Vanilla: I prefer using a paste in this recipe for a stronger vanilla flavour. Vanilla essence would also work.
Got a question? Drop me a DM on Instagram and I’ll be happy to answer!
What you’ll need to make this white chocolate pistachio cake:
White chocolate pistachio cake
For the cake
- 225 g unsalted butter softened
- 225 g golden caster sugar
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 250 g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground cardamom
- 100 ml whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 100 g unsalted pistachios ground in a food processor
- 75 g white chocolate roughly chopped
For the buttercream
- 150 g white chocolate broken into pieces
- 150 g unsalted butter softened
- 150 g icing sugar sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Edible roses
- Pistachios roughly chopped
- Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F. Grease two 20cm cake tins, and line with baking parchment.
- Cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisk and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Ensure that each one is incorportated before you add the next.
- Sift in your flour, baking powder, cardamom and milk, then mix for 1 minute – making sure you don’t overbeat the batter. Fold in the 100g ground pistachios and 75g of the chopped white chocolate using a spatula, then fill the tins evenly with the batter.
- Bake for ~35-40 minutes until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tins.
- For the icing, break up the white chocolate into a heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of just steaming water until melted.N.B. Make sure the bottom of your bowl doesn’t touch the water.
- Set your white chocolate aside to cool. You do not want to add this to the butter and icing sugar until it is at least room temperature otherwise it’ll melt the butter!
- Cream the butter with an electric whisk, then beat in the melted chocolate and vanilla bean paste until light and creamy.
- Sift in your icing sugar and beat until you have a light, creamy icing that’s fully combined.
- Remove the cooled sponges from the tins. Spread a third of the icing on one cake, then top with the second. Spread the rest of the icing on top and sides and sprinkle with any remaining pistachios or edible roses for decoration.
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