This pistachio layer cake with orange cream frosting has ground pistachios as well as pistachio extract in the cake itself, just to drive home the pistachio flavor. The frosting is fluffy, whipped cream with fresh orange zest. Together, this pairing makes for a heavenly combination!
With over 300 recipes on this blog, a handful of cake-based dishes like cupcakes and the odd cake here and there, like my salted caramel orange upside down cake and Battenberg cake, it was time to really pull out all the stops and make the cake of all cakes!
I love just about most cakes, as long as they’re not too sweet because that just spoils it for me. This cake has the perfect amount of sweetness and if, like me, you don’t like an overly sweet dessert, then you have found your cake here. When I was researching the recipe, I noticed that most only had ground pistachios and that made me think, how much pistachio flavor could it have? I pondered whether there is such a thing as pistachio extract. There is… and I found it on Amazon. I immediately ordered it and it was here in just a few days.
If I had to describe pistachio extract, it’s as if vanilla and almond extract were mixed, but tastes like pistachio. Does that make sense? I mean, what was the point of calling it a pistachio cake if it doesn’t take like pistachios? When you get a perfect bite your tastebuds get hit with pistachio flavor, then soft whipped cream, then a hint of orange (as an aside, I love that you can see the specs of orange zest in the frosting) and finally, a satisfying crunch from the pistachios. I think you’ll really enjoy this cake. I know I did and a few friends did too because they’re already requesting another.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
- 3/4 cup shelled roasted, unsalted pistachios
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour + more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 6 large eggs yolks and whites separated, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup cold water
- 2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon pistachio extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- For the frosting:
- 4 cups heavy cream cold
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- Zest and juice of 1 medium orange
- 1 1/2 cups shelled roasted, unsalted pistachios
- Place the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare 3 - 9 inch cake tins by brushing bottom and sides with melted butter.
- Add a circle of parchment paper to the bottom of each pan and smooth out any air bubbles, brush more melted butter over parchment paper. Dust lightly with flour. Tap any excess into the sink.
- Add the 3/4 cup pistachios to a food processor and pulse until fine.
- To large mixing bowl add the ground pistachios, sieved 2 1/2 cups cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.
- In a separate mixing bowl or stand mixer, add the butter and beat until light and creamy. Add 1 cup sugar, oil, egg yolks, water, orange zest, and pistachio extract. Beat until the sugar dissolves.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mix and add the wet ingredients in batches, mixing well in between additions until well combined.
- Clean the bowl from the wet ingredients and dry well. Add the egg whites and cream of tartar. * see note
- Whip the egg whites using an electric mixer until they start to get foamy on a slow setting.
- Continue on the slow setting, add the 1/2 cup sugar in a fine stream down the side of the bowl to avoid deflating the whites.
- Once all the sugar is incorporated, turn the mixer on high and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Carefully fold the egg white mixture into the the cake bater in batches.
- Divide the batter between the 3 cake pans, smooth the tops and bake in the oven for 40 minutes until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
- For the frosting:
- To a large mixing bowl add the cream.
- Using an electric mixer, beat until it starts to stiffen.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar in small batches (to avoid getting covered in it), orange zest and juice.
- Whip the cream until stiff, do not over whip.
- To frost the cake:
- Place the first cake layer onto a cake stand.
- Slide pieces of parchment paper under the cake, just around the edges to keep the cake stand clean of frosting.
- Place the second cake layer on top of the frosting.
- Add 1/4 cup of frosting and spread evenly over the top of the cake.
- Place the third cake layer upside down (to get a flat top).
- Using the rest of the frosting, cover the entire cake and smooth with an offset spatula or flat knife.
- Carefully slide out the pieces of parchment paper.
- Decorate the cake with the 1 1/2 cups pistachios.
* It is very important to have clean, dry bowl and mixing blades free of any fats or egg yolks or the egg whites will not stiffen.
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