Pistachio and Almond Cake with Orange Salad, excerpted from this week's Cook the Book selection, A16 Food + Wine, is one of those incredibly simple recipes that always yields dependable, delicious results. When do loaf cakes ever not turn out?
This rustic version is reminiscent of the nut and lemon trees that stud the coasts and hills of Italy. The batter is made primarily from ground pistachios and almonds, and is then flavored liberally with fresh citrus zest. A salad composed of Valencia oranges, blood oranges, and marmalade adds a refreshingly elegant touch. Serve the cake with small glasses of grappa or Limoncello.
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- Yield:one 4 x 8-inch loaf cake, 6 to 8 servings
- For the pistachio and almond cake:
- 1 1/3 cups unsalted shelled pistachio nuts
- 1 1/3 cups blanched whole almonds
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 lemons
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon "00" flour, or all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the orange salad:
- 3 blood oranges
- 2 Valencia or navel oranges
- 1/4 cup orange marmalade
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- Unsalted shelled pistachio nuts
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 300ºF. Butter a 4-by-8-inch loaf pan. Then, using a sifter or a fine-mesh strainer, dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.
In a food processor, combine the pistachios and almonds and pulse until finely ground. Set aside.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Grate the zest from the lemons directly into the bowl. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Mix in the vanilla just until incorporated. On low speed, gradually add the nuts and mix just until incorporated. Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Stir in the flour and salt and mix just until incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then, run a pairing knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake sides, invert the cake onto a plate, and lift off the pan. At this point, the cake can be served warm or allowed to cool completely before being sliced and reheated.
To make the orange salad, cut a slice off the top and bottom of 1 orange, stand the orange upright, and cut downward to remove the rind and pith in thick strips. Cut the orange crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices, capturing any juice. Repeat with all of the remaining oranges. Set the orange slices aside until needed.
Gently heat the marmalade in a pot over low heat for about 3 minutes, or until syrupy. Add any captured orange juice along with lemon juice to the marmalade. Remove the pot from the heat and add 1 to 2 tablespoons water to thin the marmalade to the consistency of a vinaigrette. Let cool.
To serve, preheat the oven to 400ºF, Cut the cake into generous slices and place on a baking sheet. Bake the slices, turning them over once, for about 5 minutes, or until warm and slightly toasted on both sides.
Place 4 or 5 orange slices on each plate and drizzle generously with the marmalade syrup. Place the warm pieces of cake next to the orange slices and top with a dollop of yogurt and a few pistachios. Serve immediately.