The Melbourne summer is markedly different to the Brisbane one. Up north the heat is well settled in by Christmas time, and the days follow one another predictably hot and steamy. Down south though, the heat is dry and crackly, and a sweltering day can easily be followed by a grey drizzly one. Needless to say, I know I’ve been away for a while when I come to Melbourne without a cardigan or jumper!
W, S and I flew down a few days before Christmas to spend the festive season with our families. I do love coming down to Melbourne, despite how busy our visits are – W is in high demand by the grandparents and assorted family members. It does feel like a holiday nonetheless, and I love walking through Melbourne’s timeworn streets and green parks, partaking of her delicious food (we’re off to Tiamo for lunch today!), catching up with people.
We’ve been staying at my mum’s place for our trip, where she has an unused KitchenAid that she has been meaning to gift me. While I was down, though, she asked me to bake something. The unpredictable weather kept me going back and forth on what to bake, but I ended up settling on this delicious pistachio cake. In the meantime though, I totally forgot to use the KitchenAid while putting it together! No matter – it turned out to be most delicious, especially when enjoyed in the courtyard with a dose of afternoon sunshine breaking the clouds and a glass of saffron tea.
Sometimes baking out of your element produces unexpected but fantastic results. This cake isn’t what I had originally envisioned – I was imagining a fluffy, buttery loaf with a syrupy icing. However, as I was staying at my mum’s for the holidays and as she rarely bakes herself, her kitchen is equipped rather differently to mine.
On the morning I decided to bake, the day before Christmas, the Melbourne weather was closer to winter than summer (a reminder on why we love living up north). So I decided to make do with what mum had in the house, rather than venture down the shops. Coconut oil instead of butter; yoghurt instead of buttermilk. I had planned to use finely ground pistachio, but mum’s grinder was on the fritz so I had to grind the nuts by hand using the mortar & pestle. Though slightly time consuming, this ended up being one of my favourite elements of the cake, as the coarse uneven grind of the pistachios added wonderful crunch and texture.
This isn’t a sweet cake – it isn’t supposed to be. It is deliciously nutty and spiced, dense and filling with a delicate crumb. Perfect in the afternoon with a cup of mint tea, or a thin slice after dinner with a glass of thick Turkish coffee.
ROSEWATER, PISTACHIO & CARDAMOM CAKE
1 cup plain flour
½ cup coconut flour
2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup coconut sugar
½ cup coconut oil + extra to grease
1 cup yoghurt
2 tbsp rosewater
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup coconut cream
1 tsp icing sugar
1 tsp rosewater
2 punnets blueberries
Pistachios, crushed, to decorate
Rose petals, to decorate
Preheat oven to 175°c/350°f. Prepare your 23cm spring form baking tin by lining the bottom with baking paper and greasing the sides with coconut oil.
In a medium sized bowl sift together both flours, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. Using either a small food processor or a mortar & pestle, coarsely grind the pistachio nuts. Add to the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl cream the sugar and eggs together. Add the yogurt, rosewater, vanilla essence, and mix to combine. If your coconut oil is hard, melt it in a small saucepan on a low heat and leave to cool for up to five minutes. Add the coconut oil to the wet ingredients and mix through.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet, being careful not to over mix. Transfer the mixture into your prepared tin, using the back of the spoon to smooth to an even surface. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, checking at about 30 minutes to be sure not to overcook.
Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare the icing, pop the can of coconut cream in the fridge overnight. Once chilled, remove the cream from the top, reserving the remaining milk in a glass for later use. Pop the coconut cream in a bowl along with the sugar and rosewater, and beat until thick and fluffy.
Spread the coconut icing over the cake, pile the blueberries in the middle, and sprinkle the crushed pistachios and rose petals over the top. Enjoy fresh, or keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for up 3 – 4 days.