About the Recipe
This cake has a special story behind it for me. It is based off of a delicious lemon coffee cake recipe that was given to me by a wonderful woman named Carmen who lives in Barbados. My husband and I travelled to Barbados in 2012 with my in-laws. We stayed in this lovely apartment by the beach which was taken care of by Carmen. Carmen would always make this wonderful lemon loaf for us that we would eat with a nice tea in the mornings as we sat outside listening to the waves and watching the local birds. Oh how I wish I could travel back in time. I have such wonderful memories of that trip.
Anyways, we loved that lemon cake so much that Carmen sent us home with the recipe. Since then, we have called it Carmen's Lemon Cake and I make it a few times a year and it brings us back to that lovely time we spent with her.
I recently gifted myself a beautiful Nordic Ware Bundt pan and immediately thought of making Carmen's Lemon Cake but I wanted to add a little something to it to change it up slightly. In came my love for pistachios!
I didn't know if it would work as I had to substitute some of the original ingredients to allow for the pistachio flour, but Carmen must have been with me in spirit, because the cake turned out better than I could have imagined. The delicate flavor of pistachio melds so well with the lemon. It is light, not too sweet and perfect as a side to coffee or tea. Serve it with or without the icing. Either way it is delicious!
I do hope you give it a try and enjoy it as much as I do.
3/4 cup Pistachio Flour
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2/3 cup Unsalted Butter
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 cup Milk
2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (depending on if you are using salted pistachios or not)
4 tablespoon Lemon Rind (about 4 lemons)
3/4 Block of Cream Cheese
1 1/2 cup Icing Sugar
4 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
If you do not have prepared pistachio flour, begin by pulverizing pistachios into a flour like consistency. Obviously having shelled pistachios makes the job a lot easier. But if you do not have any shelled like the situation I found myself in, you'll have a bit more preparation work to do. You can use salted or unsalted pistachios for this recipe, just adjust your salt accordingly. If you are using salted nuts, only use 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Next grate your lemons to get that wonderful lemon rind that will bring so much lovely flavor to this cake. In a large bowl, mix together your ground pistachio flour as well as the all-purpose flour. Add in the baking soda and salt. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine your softened butter, sugar and eggs. With a handmixer, mix until you get a smooth creamy mixture. Add in the milk bit by bit mixing after each addition. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Again going bit by bit, mixing after every time you add a little more until everything is really well incorporated and smooth.
Now, with a rubber spatula, fold in your lemon rind.
Preheat your oven to 350F and prepare your baking pan.
I like to grease mine with a bit of butter and flour. To do this I either use a scrap of the butter foil or some kitchen towel. I rub a thin layer of butter all over the pan. Make sure to really get in all the nooks and crannies, especially if you are using an intricate bundt pan. The layer does not have to be thick, no chunks. Just enough so that it coats and will allow the flour to stick. Next add a large spoonful of flour to your baking pan and tap and turn it so that the flour coats the butter and your pan now looks powdered. Try not to leave any flour chunks. I like to turn my pan upside down over the sink or garbage and give it a couple of good whacks to make sure that I get rid of any excess flour.
Once your pan is ready to go, pour your lovely batter into the pan. Once filled, I like to tap my pan on the counter a few times to make sure I have gotten the batter down into mold properly. I fill the pan until it is almost up to the edge leaving a little room for it to grow and now spill over. The cake will rise a little when baked.
Once your oven is ready, pop your cake in and let it bake for 1 hour- 1 h 15 minutes.
To check when it is done, I like to insert a skewer stick, if it comes out clean, it is ready. If there is still a little batter that sticks, pop it back in the oven to bake for a few more minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.
Next is always the exciting part. Put a plate overtop the opening of your baking pan and flip! Give it a couple of good taps and lift your pan up. Your cake should slide out. If it doesn't, I like to use a small rubber spatula to help 'unglue' the cake from the mold and try again.
Let your cake cool on a wire rack for about an hour or so or until it is relatively at room temperature.
In the meantime, prepare your icing.
Add the cream cheese. icing sugar, lemon juice and vanilla to a food processor if you have one. If you don't, no worries, you can also just put them in a bowl and use your hand mixer.
Mix until blended. Now slowly add a bit of the water bit by bit and mix. Add as much of the water as you want until you achieve your preferred consistency. I like mine to be runny enough so that it is able to run down the cake, but still thick enough for it to feel like a real icing and not just a glaze.
Now comes the fun part. Decorating your beautiful cake. Spoon your icing over the cake top. Put as much or as little as you like. From there, you can sprinkle a little lemon rind and crushed pistachios over top. Or decorate with what you like. Sprinkles, edible flowers, marzipan... anything really. Be creative!
Serve and enjoy!