When Life Gives You Lemons...Make Lemon Pistachio Cake

Wow! What a month! It's almost been a month since my last post. We've been up to our necks over here in the studio with holiday cards, holiday baking, and preparations for new projects in the new year. I haven't been baking as much as I used to, so it was nice to make some time for making a floury mess in the kitchen. While this year's holiday baking wasn't last year's holiday baking spectacular, I did manage to try some new delicious recipes (which I will surely share), and a few that have become favorites, including Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.

The recipe I share today came to me by request of my husband on a dog-eared page of Edible Santa Barbara magazine. He's a big fan of pistachios, and we're always up for a creative lemon recipe. We happened to have pistachio meal flour on hand from a past trip to the farmers' market where it struck our curiosity (and we used it that night for pistachio crusted grilled halibut!). This cake was delicious. Not too sweet--almost coffee cake like. And the sea salt flakes make this unique combination of flavors bold. We both highly recommend it.

I'm hoping to squeeze in a little more baking this year--'tis the season.

Lemon Pistachio Cake
Makes 9 Servings

1 cup flour
1 cup pistachio meal flour*
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup pistachio oil
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs (preferably local, free-range)
1/4 teaspoon Neilsen-Massey lemon extract
1/2 cup whole milk
Zest of 1 small lemon
Juice one small lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup shelled, chopped unsalted pistachios
Pinch of sea salt flakes

Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan. Preheat oven to 350ยบ.

Whisk flour, pistachio meal, baking powder, cardamom, and salt together and set aside. Using an electric stand mixer, cream the butter, oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the lemon extract and beat until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Meanwhile, whisk together the zest and juice of the lemon with the powdered sugar until smooth. Pour over the cake when it comes out of the oven and then sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and a pinch of sea salt flakes, and press down lightly over the surface.

*Pistachio meal flour is available from Santa Barbara Pistachio or you can make it by grinding up raw, shelled pistachio nuts in a blender or coffee grinder until fine. You can also use a food processor, but keep an eye on it, if you run it too long it will become a paste.

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