This week was my birthday, and so of course we had some lovely cake. I’ve been wanting to make Aunt Sassy Cake from the Baked Explorations book for ages, but since it’s a pistachio cake, it didn’t seem like the kind of thing that would be great to show up to a potluck with, ya know, nut allergies and all.
It’s been SUPER hot here this week, so my baking plans got modified several times. I ended up making an ice cream cake instead of one of the baked cakes I had planned, but that was also delicious and wonderful and well-received.
As for Aunt Sassy Cake? Fabulous. The texture of the cake was wonderful and fluffy. The pistachio was lovely. I added a bit of cardamom to the cake batter, and the frosting I made up as I went along since we ended up being in a time crunch, but I finished it with a bit of orange zest and it was just beautiful.
We had a great day filled with delicious food. Whole Wheat Macaroni Salad with veggies from the garden, a new batch of Refrigerator Half-Sour Pickles, homemade salsa with tomatillos from the garden, and of course, Charlie sweating over the grill for us. Wonderful birthday times, as usual.
While you’re here, don’t forget to enter to win a gift certificate to my new etsy shop!
Ingredients – Cake:
1 cup shelled pistachios
2 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Ingredients – Frosting:*
*Note: The recipe in the Baked Explorations book calls for a cooked frosting, which we did not have the time/inclination to do yesterday, so we made a standard buttercream, which I am including the recipe for here. If you’d like to make the Baked version, check out their book.
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup shortening
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
3 cups confectioners sugar (or to taste)
2 tablespoons milk (or to desired consistency)
zest of one orange
handful of pistachios, reserved for decorating
Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out the excess flour.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the pistachios until they are coarsely chopped. Transfer about 2 tablespoons’ worth of the coarse pistachios to a large bowl. Continue to process the rest of the pistachios until they are almost powdery—but not a superfine dust. Stir the pistachio powder into the reserved coarse pistachios. Sift the flours, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together over the large bowl containing the pistachio mix. Stir to combine.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the whole egg, and beat until just combined. Turn the mixer to low.
In a measuring cup, make 1 ½ cups ice water. Add the flour mixture to the mixer in three parts, alternating with the ice water, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. For each addition, turn the mixer to low to add ingredients, then up to medium speed for a few seconds until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form (You can do this by hand. Don’t be intimidated, it should only take 2 to 3 minutes). Do not overbeat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and let cool completely. Remove the parchment paper.
Next, make the icing. In large bowl, cream shortening and butter in a stand mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use.
Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface, and evenly spread about 1 ¼ cups frosting on top. Add the next layer, trim and frost it, then add the third layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake and put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up. (This is known as crumb coating and will help to keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake.) Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Garnish the cake with crushed pistachios and refrigerate it for 15 minutes to it firm up before serving.
Candles are in after the cake was cut so someone could have a to-go slice before heading to work!