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21 March 2012

Bronte Pistachio Cake

What would you do if your husband points at a picture of a beautiful cake at the computer and tells you that that may be the next cake that you should be making?   

I looked at the picture he was showing me.  I gulped.  

"That's a LOT of Bronte pistachios in there."

"Yup", he affirmed but really didn't understand my uneasiness. 

As I read the quantity of the pistachios, I gulped again.  A little bit more than half a kilo of pistachios.  From Bronte.  I really don't know if I have that much in stock or better yet, I don't know if I would be willing to use that much of my pistachios.  I only get them from Sicily and the last time I went there, I took home some and my stock was replenished by my husband's relatives who went there and back to Rome.  They were my treasures in the cupboard. 

Father's Day was coming up in Italy (19th of March), and maybe it was the perfect cake to bake for that day.   Pushing aside my frugality (Shame on me!), and feeling guilty about it, I decided to seal the occasion with a ribbon in the form of a green cake.
I looked around for other recipes of the pistachio cake the following day because I wasn't so convinced about the one he showed me.  I wanted to follow a recipe that I think is the right one, no flaws, no blunders, no mistakes this time.  I am using "my cupboard treasure".   I swore to myself that if I mess up this one, I would pack up all my baking hopes and shut them in Pandora's box. 

Common sense came to me after browsing around the internet, reaching the point of frustration.  The cake uses pistachios of Bronte, so why not go to the site of Bronte itself?  There I found a collection of recipes, savory and sweet, and most important of all, five different versions of the pistachio cake.  

I immediately liked Recipe No. 5 and added the pistachio butter of Recipe No. 1.  When I merged both recipes together, I came up with this delicious cake.  

When my husband came home, the cake was on the kitchen table, all dressed up in green.   It was time to celebrate Father's Day. 

Recipe adapted from the site of the town of Bronte (Text in Italian).

Bronte Pistachio Cake

For a 22 cm. round baking pan
Serves 6

  • 300 g. pistachios of Bronte (or regular pistachios), finely ground
  • 250 g. sugar
  • 7 eggs, separated
  • 75 g. flour (I used tipo 00.) + extra to spread on the baking pan
  • a pinch of baking powder 
  • knob of butter for greasing the pan
  • 100 g. Bronte crema di pistacchio (pistachio cream, can be bought in small bottles) Note: If you don't have this, just double the amount of the pistachio butter you are making.  
Pistachio Butter:
  • 150 g. pistachios of Bronte (or regular pistachios), coarsely chopped
  • 100 g. softened butter, diced
  • 50 g. icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celcius.
  2. Grease and flour baking pan.  
  3. Whip egg whites until stiff.
  4. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture becomes creamy.    Add flour, finely ground pistachios and baking powder to the egg yolk mixture.  Add egg whites slowly, mixing with a spatula. 
  5. Pour batter in the baking pan. 
  6. Bake at 170 degrees Celcius for about 45 minutes or until the top part colors.  Check by pricking the center of the cake with a toothpick.  If it comes out clean, then it's cooked.
  7. Let it cool.
  8. To make the pistachio butter:  Put 2/3 of the pistachios in small bowl.  Add a tablespoon of water and mash them with a pestle until it becomes mushy.   Add diced butter and icing sugar and mix well.
  9.  Cut the cake in half horizontally.  Spread the pistachio cream (or pistachio butter) and sprinkle with some pistachios (taken from the 150 g. of coarsely chopped pistachios).
  10. Coat the top of the cake with this pistachio butter and garnish with the remaining pistachios.  
  11. Serve with a glass of vino passito.


  1. So you've settled on a different one, then. ;)

    I see this cake an I'm jealous. Jealous of the amount of pistachios and jealous that I don't get to have a slice.

    Again, I find it amating how you take two recipes and merge them together, achieving the best of both.

    1. I am stricken with guilt about the amount of pistachios. I would gladly wrap a slice for you if you are just nearby. Thanks Tobias!

  2. Yum, I really like pistachios and this one's loaded, awesome! Beautiful photos!

    1. If you are a pistachio lover, then this one is a sure way to enjoy these green nuts. The taste is very intense. It did require a LOT of pistachios! Thanks!

  3. I have never seen pistachio cake before! My husband always eats it as snack. I think he'll really enjoy this cake (if I make it...maybe one day!). Rowena, I love your food styling! Always so creative and original!

    1. Nami, it's quite easy to do, and that even came from a non-baker like me. It just requires a LOT of pistachios. It will definitely not disappoint your husband because the taste is intense. Thank for for the note Nami!

  4. I love the intense green of the cake; I too find myself using my favorite or most cherised kitchen ingredients sparingly, however I think you made the rigt choice here!

    1. I think I did the right choice too. It's a beautiful and delicious cake that we enjoyed so much.

  5. Pistachios are perhaps my favorite nut and what I wouldn't do to have a stash from Sicily. I completely understand your uneasiness for using up your treasure but I say you did a fine job merging two recipes into one beautiful cake. I'm in love with this one. :)

    1. Talk about a lot of pistachios and I'm sure you understand that my stash from Bronte is very special. I still have some left and I am hoping to replenish it soon. I have to look for an option in Rome this time. I think you will like this one Jean, if you are a pistachio lover. You can't miss the intensity of the flavor, all 550 g. of it! :-)

  6. Anonymous20 July, 2012

    OK, finding the Bronte Crema di Pistachio was no problem. Finding a good substitute for Bronte Pistachios is going to be much more difficult. Should I look for roasted or raw Pistachios? Also, I am going to go all the way on following your recipe so, the next problem I ran into is the vino passito. Ben Ryé wines from Sicily & Sardinia like Passito di Pantelleria are hard to find. Do you have any recommendations for a good vino passito.
    Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe.
    Marie E.

    1. Hi Marie! You can use unsalted raw pistachios. This recipe doesn't use Passito di Pantelleria wine. But if you would like a substitute for it, you can refer to this link of straw wines in Wikipedia. Let me know if this helps. Thanks!

    2. Anonymous21 July, 2012

      Hello Rowena! Thank you so much for your reply. I am not a baker but my husband and I both love pistachios and I am determined to try my hand at this cake. Sorry for not making myself clear about the vino passito. You suggested to serve with a glass of vino passito. I was wondering if you had a recommendation for a good straw wine that is readily available in this country. The only product that comes close to straw wine that I have been able to find locally is ice wine which of course is only similar to the straw wine.

    3. Marie, I think ice wine is also a marvelous dessert wine!


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