How early is TOO early to start testing out cake recipes for your birthday?
Asking for a friend.
Okay FINE the friend is me and I completely made this cake in December in anticipation of my February birthday.
We are in a pandemic guys, there are no rules when it comes to cake consumption!!
We’ve even started celebrating half and quarter birthdays around here, just because. What else are we supposed to do? (No really. I’m asking.)
Well, I fully stand by my decision and that is because this cake is FREAK. ING. FABULOUS.
I mean, it’s a pistachio cake with pistachio buttercream and filled with a thick, rich chocolate ganache. Can you even imagine anything more perfect??
Because I can’t.
This cake is from the Icing On the Cake cookbook, which I have owned for a while and (until now) have baked absolutely nothing from. I just flip through it and drool over every cake and confection and then convince myself that my cake decorating skills are not good enough to attempt one.
Until now!!! I don’t know how I finally got up the nerve (probably the fact that no one would see the cake but my immediately family so if it was a disaster, it really wouldn’t matter), but I DID.
And it was perfect. This book really does a great job of walking you through the decorating steps with both words and pictures (very very helpful) and honestly, even if the cakes don’t look amazing, they still taste really good.
Pistachio cakes are a weakness of mine (which you could perhaps infer from the fact that my wedding cake and many previous birthday cakes were pistachio-flavored). Always have been, always will be.
This was no exception! It does require the purchase of pistachio cream or paste, which is on the expensive side, though there are some DIY recipes out there in the world.
The cake was gloriously nutty with the just the perfect amount of sweetness that was offset perfectly by the rich and bold chocolate ganache filling. The pistachio buttercream is equally as addictive and the recipe makes more than you’ll need. I have the extras stored in my freezer and am thinking of making a rich chocolate cake to swirl them over, though I am open to suggestions.
- 5 oz (140 g) semisweet chocolate, chopped
- ¾ cup (180 ml) heavy cream
- pinch of salt
- 2.25 cups + 2 tbsp (310 g) cake flour
- 2.5 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup (180 ml) pistachio paste, stirred
- 1.25 cups (250 g) sugar
- 1.25 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp (150 ml) whole milk
- 6 large egg whites
- 2 cups (400 g) sugar
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups (675 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅔ cup (160 ml) pistachio paste, stirred
- chopped pistachios, optional
- Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and set aside.
- In a small saucepan on the stovetop, bring the heavy cream to a low simmer. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Allow to sit for 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth. Add the salt and stir to combine. Allow to cool for 2 hours.
- Heat oven to 350F (175C). Grease three 6-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Combine the butter, pistachio paste, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the vanilla and mix on medium-low speed until combined. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the milk. After the last flour addition has been added, mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds.
- Evenly divide the batter among the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the pans and allow to cool completely. Level the tops of the cakes with a serrated knife once cooled.
- Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Place the stand mixer bowl over a double boiler, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water in the pan below. Heat the egg mixture until it reaches 160F (70C) on a candy thermometer, whisking occasionally.
- Place the stand mixer bowl back on to the stand mixer mix with the whisk attachment for 8-10 minutes on high speed, or until the outside of the bowl has cooled to room temperature.
- Decrease the mixer speed to low and add in the vanilla. Add in the butter a few tbsp at a time, making sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. Once all the butter has been added, switch the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the pistachio paste and mix until combined.
- Once the ganache has cooled, scrape into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed for 30-60 seconds. Stop the mixer and mix by hand with a balloon whisk until it is lighter in texture and thick enough to clump onto the whisk. Use immediately.
- Place one cake layer on a cake board or serving plate. Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip with the pistachio buttercream. Pipe a ring around the top of the cake to create a dam. Fill the ring with ¾ cup of the whipped chocolate ganache and smooth it into an even layer with an offset spatula. Top with the second cake layer and repeat. Then, place the final cake layer on top.
- Frost the tops and sides of the cake with a thin layer of pistachio buttercream for the crumb coat. Place the cake in the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes.
- Frost the cake with a thin layer of buttercream.
- To decorate the sides with a wavy ruffle technique, fill a piping bag fitted with a petal tip with the buttercream. With the opening of the tip facing down and the narrow side of the tip facing away from the cake, start at the bottom of the cake and pipe waves up the side of the cake. Pipe waves around the whole cake, trying to follow the curves of the the last wave as you do. Smooth the top of the cake with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the top of the cake with pistachios, if desired.