I have been avoiding this cake for a couple of weeks. In fact I purchased the two key ingredients (pistachio paste and pistachio oil) over two months ago and have just been waiting for the inclanation to come – which it did this week. And after a day or two of making and baking, and a further twelve hours of freezing, we finally got to try this incredible concoction.
This recipe screams ‘Christina Tozi’, it’s creator and the creator of many treats involving unusual (yet strangely obvious) flavour combinations and recipes within recipes. As the title correctly says – this is a pistachio cake, but by all accounts the real hero in this recipe is the lemon curd which, sandwiched between the dense pistachio cake, the milk crumbs and buttery pistachio frosting, provides a much needed distraction from the dominance of pistachio flavour.
This cake reminded me of some dainty morsel I would purchase in a quintessential Parisian patisserie – rich and decadent, just on a larger scale. Make sure you have people to eat it with!
Pistachio Cake (recipe below)
65 grams Pistachio Oil
Lemon Curd (recipe below)
Milk Crumbs (1/2 the quantity from recipe below)
Pistachio Frosting (recipe below)
*You will also need 1 (6 inch) cake ring and 2 strips acetate, each 3 inches wide and 20 inches long.*
Put a piece of parchment on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment from the bottom of the cake. Use the cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake, these are your top 2 cake layers. The remaining cake ‘scraps’ will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.
For the first layer, clean the cake ring and place it in the center of the baking sheet lined with clean parchment. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. Put the cake scraps inside the ring and use the back of your hand to press the scraps together into a flat even layer. Dunk a pastry brush in the pistachio oil and give the layer of cake a good healthy bath of half of the oil. Use the back of the spoon to spread half of the lemon curd in an even layer over the cake. Sprinkle one-third of the milk crumbs evenly over the lemon curd and use the back of a spoon to spread one third of the pistachio frosting as evenly as possible.
For layer two, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top 1/4 inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall – high enough to support the height of the finished cake. Set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for layer one.
For layer three, nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Give it volume and swirls, or you can opt for a perfectly flat top. Garnish the frosting with the remaining milk crumbs.
Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. Gently peel off the acetate, and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (wrapped well in plastic, the cake cake be refrigerated for up to 5 days). Spend some time gazing at your hard work, then slice and serve.
90 grams pistachio paste
75 grams glucose (or corn syrup)
6 egg whites
280 grams icing (powdered/confectioners) sugar
110 grams almond meal/flour
75 grams pistachio oil (or you can use grapeseed as a substitute)
55 grams heavy cream
160 grams plain (all purpose) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Heat the oven to 175 c. Combine the pistachio paste and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium low for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture turns into a sticky green paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
On low speed, add the egg whites one at a time, being careful not to add the next egg white until the previous one is completely incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula after every 2 to 3 egg whites.
Add the icing/confectioners’ sugar and almond meal and, on low speed, paddle them in for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stream in the pistachio oil and heavy cream and paddle on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and paddle on low for 2 to 3 minutes, until the batter is super smooth.
Spray a 9 x 13 cake pan and line it with parchment paper. Using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes. At 20 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger; the cake should bounce back and it should be slightly golden brown on the sides and pulling away from the sides of the pan slightly.
Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack and use straight away or place in your fridge, wrapped in plastic, for up to 5 days.
100 grams sugar
4 egg yolks
1 gelatin sheet
115 grams butter, very cold
a pinch of salt
Zest the lemons. Put the sugar, lemon zest and 80 grams of lemon juice in a blender and blend until the sugar granules have dissolved. Add the egg yolks and blend on low until you have a bright yellow mixture. Transfer the contents to a medium pot or sauce pan.
Bloom the gelatin by placing this sheet in a bowl with cold water for a few minutes to soften.
Heat the lemon mixture over low heat, whisking regularly. As it heats up, it will begin to thicken; keep a close eye on it. Once it boils, remove it from the stove and transfer it to the blender. Add the bloomed gelatin, butter, and salt and blend until the mixture is thick, shiny and super smooth.
Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a heat proof container and put in the fridge until the lemon curd has cooled completely, at least 30 minutes. This can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
115 grams butter, at room temperature
40 grams icing (powdered/confectioners’) sugar
230 grams pistachio paste
a pinch of salt
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream together on medium high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow.
Add the pistachio paste and salt and mix on low speed for half a minute, then kick up the speed to medium high for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Use the frosting immediately, or store it in an airtight container for up to one week.
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon nonfat milk powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup white chocolate, melted
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons milk powder, flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Stir in melted butter until well combined. Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake until dried and crumbly, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove milk crumble from oven and let cool completely.
Transfer milk crumble to a large bowl and fold in remaining 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons milk powder and white chocolate. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Yield: Makes 1 (6-inch) Layer Cake, 5 to 6 inches tall; Serves 6 to 8
Notes: Pistachio Paste and Pistachio Oil are available on Amazon.
Source: Christina Tozi, Momufuku Milk Bar