Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pistachio Cake with Apricots

Now, I ask you, can you honestly look at this cake and not say "YUM?!" Last week it was my turn to bring dessert.  In the book “A Homemade Life” each chapter is a mini-story and the recipe at the end of each is inspired by the story.  In the chapter, entitled A Big Deal, Ms. Wizenberg tells how she attempted to live life in Seattle without a car.  One particular evening, she and her fiancé were invited to a dinner party and she recounts the story of how this cake survived the experience being carted in a paper bag, through the streets of Seattle, on a bus, next to a drunk, in a rainstorm. 

My version of this cake does not come with quite a traumatic tale, unless you count not being able to find fresh apricots and having to use the canned variety instead.  I did slip it into a paper bag  but my lovely cake and I drove to my destination in the comfort of Violet, my trusty Subaru Outback….love that car.

In my opinion, pistachios are like garlic…they make everything better.  I toss them in salads, use them to bread chicken, gussy up a simple vegetable dish and have even substituted them for pine nuts in a pesto recipe.  These little green beauties are not only responsible for some funny commercials touting their wonderfulness, but they are naturally cholesterol and trans fat fee and are a good source of potassium, protein and fiber.   

I had a blast making this cake…it was a lot of fun seeing all the various and sundry ingredients come together in the absolutely luscious and velvety batter.  The instructions call for pouring the batter into a the pan and dotting the batter with the cut apricots.  The apricots will sink as the cake bakes, but don’t worry they will “reveal themselves like buried treasure” when the cake is sliced, which only adds to the beauty of this delicious confection.

If you try no other recipe I’ve posted, do yourself a favor and MAKE THIS CAKE!  I served each slice with a small scoop of pistachio gelato garnished with a dried apricot.
Pistachio Cake with Apricots
From:  A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg

¾ cup shelled pistachios (if they are salted, omit the salt below)
1 cup of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick of butter at room temperature
1 cup of sugar
3 large eggs
5 ripe apricots.  I used canned apricots.  This would also be good with peaches.
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Butter a 9” round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Butter the paper as well and lightly dust with flour. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the pistachios until very fine.  Then add the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt and pulse to incorporate.  Measure the milk and add the vanilla; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale a fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk mixture.  If there are streaks, fold them in.  Add the batter to the prepared pan.  Smear the apricots with honey and arrange the apricots, cut side up, on top of the batter.  Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes. 
The apricots will disappear into the batter but will be revealed in each slice of cake. 

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