I really love this cake. It is something I crave and always want to make. It comes from Molly Yeh’s (of the blog My Name Is Yeh) book ‘Molly on the Range.’ And I think the fact that it is so good and moorish is a testament to her cake making and recipe creation skills (but if you have seen her blog you’d never doubt those anyway!). The first time I tried this cake however, someone else made it for me.
In February my Grandpa died, and one of my friends made this cake for me. It was really special as I had given her a copy of ‘Molly on the Range’ a few months before, for her birthday. This same friend made a cake when my Grandma died four years earlier, a chocolate vanilla marble cake. It was at that time that I learnt that giving flowers when someone is grieving was not a universal custom. Often, giving food is. And as a great lover of food, I think this particular tradition is something I can get behind. Food is one of the greatest comforts we can give one another, and I think that is why it is so fitting to receive food during times of grief, and why it is customary for some.
On both occasions I was so humbled by my friends generosity, and the knowledge that she had gone to so much effort. The pistachio loaf cake was so good, I’m pretty sure I ate most of it myself. My friend made some alterations to the recipe, substituting the almond extract for vanilla extract (thankfully, as unbeknownst to her I hate almond extract, and always leave it out of every recipe that asks for it), and that is what I have done each time I have made this cake as well, so I have included that in the recipe below.
Unfortunately I was able to return the cake making favour only a couple of weeks after my friend made this cake for me. Needless to say February wasn’t a great month, or start to the year for either of us. However for me, feeling the support of such friends and having a tangible (and edible) measure of my friend’s support made that time just that much easier.
Pistachio Loaf Cake
75g plain flour
45g almond meal
225g margarine/softened unsalted butter
335g caster sugar
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the icing:
75g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice, approx.
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius, and grease and line (allow some of the baking paper to hand over the edges, this will help later when you are removing the cake from the tin) a loaf pan - mine is 31 x 7.5 x 8cm so it’s quite long and thin, you can use a loaf tin that is shorter and wider just keep in mind that the middle of the cake might take longer to cook than the timings mentioned in this recipe.
Grind the pistachios down (using a food processor is best for this) until you have an almond meal like texture. Measure out 1.5 cups of the pistachios and reserve any left overs to use when decorating the cake later. Add the pistachio meal, flour and almond meal to a bowl and whisk to combine and get rid of any lumps.
Add the margarine and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer, and cream using the paddle attachment until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs separately, mixing in between each addition. Then mix in the vanilla extract and the lemon zest. Add the flour mixture with the mixer on low speed, and mix until everything is just combined.
Transfer the batter to the prepared tin and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully remove on to a cooling rack.
Once the cake has cooled, make the icing by whisking together the icing sugar and lemon juice. Add a little more lemon juice if the icing is too dry, more icing sugar if it is too runny. Spread the icing over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Decorate with the remaining pistachio meal.
Reference: ‘Molly on the Range’ by Molly Yeh (Rodale, 2016), pp.220-221.