Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Orange, Pistachio and Cardamom Cake (including Thermomix method)

My little twist on a traditional Greek orange cake...

Very easy to make in that it can't really go far wrong as it's one of those 'throw-it-all-in-and-blend' cakes, so if you're wary of baking then this is a great cake to have a go at! Rises magnificently (as you can see from the photo below, it more than doubled in size) and comes out with a light, moist and fluffy centre, and a thin, crisp, golden crust.

I served it with fresh orange segments (pith removed, by peeling the whole orange with a sharp knife then cutting out the segments) and some Greek yoghurt (or you could whip up some cream) with a little orange zest and honey whipped into it, scattered with chopped pistachios.

Serves 12-16, 353 calories per serving for a sixteenth of the cake (not including yoghurt, cream, extra nuts etc.). [Calories in square brackets, for enquiring minds who like to know these things]

1/2 level tsp cardamom seeds (removed from pods) [3]
225g butter, softened (add a pinch of salt, if using unsalted) [1,658!]
400g (golden) caster sugar [1,600!]
Zest of 2 oranges [8]
150ml freshly squeezed orange juice (you'll need about 1.5 oranges) [68]
5 medium (approx 58g each) free range eggs [438]
400g self-raising flour [1,408!]
75g unsalted (shelled) pistachio nuts [435]
Extra butter for greasing (about a tsp) [37]

To decorate
A light dusting of icing sugar [32]

Serving suggestions
Greek yoghurt or whipped cream (with optional orange zest and honey whipped in), 25g chopped pistachio nuts, fresh, peeled orange segments slices (1 orange serves 3 people), optional physalis for that 80s garnish touch.

Equipment needed
24-26cm (10 inch) ring or turban cake mold (one with a hollow post in the middle) which is at least 6.5cm high, preferably non-stick - spring-form tins with removeable bases are the easiest to work with. Mine is virtually identical to this 26cm tin, although mine is 24cm which was a tight fit - they both have a flat base included too, although I picked mine up from a charity shop (un-used) when I saw it, as a bargain!
Some variant of electric mixer (e.g. Kitchen Aid style or Thermomix) to beat the cake batter with - a hand mixer might do the job if you have the stamina!
Spice grinder / pestle and mortar to grind the cardamom seeds with.

(Thermomix instructions in italics) Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180C (Fan 160C) / 350F and set a shelf to a couple of inches below the centre of the oven. Grease the cake tin with the extra butter (if it's not non-stick, you could dust with flour too, but my tin is non-stick).

Firstly, prepare your ingredients. Chop the pistachio nuts and set aside - you can do this by hand for an even chop, or with a quick pulse or two in your food processor (Thermomix Speed 8 / 2 seconds, or again for a second or two for smaller pieces - don't worry if some of it is of a ground texture). I chopped up the full 100g and reserved 25g to serve.

Grind the cardamom seeds, either by hand in a pestle and mortar, or in an electric spice grinder (I use this onewhich is small and inexpensive but very effective) (TM Speed 10 until fine, although I use my spice grinder for small quantities like this).

Finely grate the orange zest and set aside (or for TM peel off the zest and grate Speed 8 / 9 seconds - you can leave the ground cardamom and orange zest in the TM for the next step). Juice the oranges and measure out 150ml.

There is no need to cream the butter and the sugar, but if your butter's not quite soft and you're impatient (like me) throw them in to your food mixer for a few minutes until combined it, won't hurt (TM Speed 4 / 1 minute, scrape down halfway).

Add all the eggs, orange juice and zest, ground cardamom and flour, give it a quick initial mix to combine the ingredients (TM Speed 4 / 15 seconds, moving up to Speed 5 / 15 seconds) and then beat with the electric mixer for several minutes until light and fluffy and increased in volume (TM Insert the butterfly whisk, then mix at Speed 3 / 30 seconds, then Speed 4 / 30 seconds, or until light and increased in volume - no higher than Speed 4 with the whisk in).

Add the nuts, and mix in briefly (TM Speed 2 / Reverse Spoon / 15 seconds, then remove the butterfly whisk and gently scrape down with a soft spatula and fold in any residual nuts from around the sides etc. quickly. Now continue with general instructions).

Gently pour the cake batter into the greased tin, scraping out all the batter with a (flexible) spatula into the tin (you don't want it to come right up to the top), making sure you don't spill any up the sides which will burn and that it's reasonably level, and then put it into the middle of the oven to bake for approximately one hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Make sure there is plenty of room above the cake, as mine rose a good couple of inches above the tin, but as you can see my tin was pretty full (half-full would probably have been better - so if your tin is bigger, this shouldn't be a problem!). Mine took 1 hour and 10 minutes, but all ovens are different (try not to over-cook as it will become dry - under-cooked cakes will sink in the middle when cooling).

Once cooked, remove from the oven, leave for a couple of minutes, then (using oven -gloves) carefully invert the cake onto a wire rack, undo the springform clip, and carefully remove the tin from the cake and leave it to cool completely.

When cool, either transfer to an airtight container (or freeze, if desired), then when ready to serve dust with a little icing sugar, slice and serve with your preferred accompaniments.

I whisked in a couple of teaspoons of grated orange zest and a small squirt of honey into about half a pot of (Total) Greek yoghurt (this would be enough for about six) and served a dollop of this with the reserved pistachios scattered on top. I also sifted some icing sugar onto orange segments (skinned slices would be equally nice - take the skin off with a sharp knife), then caramelised them lightly. Cream would be good too, if you want to be more decadent! A lovely suggestion from Vanessa Burke who made this was to make an orange and cardamom syrup to pour over the top of the whole cake, which I think I'll be trying next time I make it too!

This is how she made it, "The syrup was one cup of sugar one cup of water 6 bashed cardamom pods and zest of one orange. Heat until sugar is dissolved stirring. Bring to boil for 10 to 15 minutes to thicken a bit. Cool and decant into a sterilized jar. Prick some holes in the base of the cake while still in the tin. Drizzle on some syrup. Allow to soak in before turning out to cool. Drizzle on some more before serving. I accompanied my cake with Andreas' s lovely yoghurt, some chopped pistachios and some physalis."

Vanessa sent me a photo of her rather beautiful looking cake which definitely trumps my presentation - will have to up my game next time I serve it!



  1. had a blip with a vanilla version of the cake, used a white bean , and just left out the cocoa and the coffee. The mix looked a bit too sloppy (maybe leave out the water if no cocoa?) so I cooked a cupcake and it was too flat. As I wasn't having to be gluten free rescued the rest of the mix by adding some flour.. topped the nicely risen, springy cupcakes with white choc .. looking yum, tasting lovely.

  2. I'm guessing this is about the magic bean cake? Yes, if you cook it without the cocoa, you definitely need something else, which is why I add coconut flour to the lemon and carrot cake versions, and ground almonds to the raspberry bakewell etc. Glad you managed to rescue them!! :)

  3. I made the pistachio orange and cardamom cake to serve as a dessert to a friend who is quite expert at baking - whereas I am not. It was delicious and she was very impressed. I served it with natural yoghurt as suggested and some physalis with a dusting of icing sugar and a drizzle of a simple syrup which I infused with cardamom pods and orange zest. Will be making this one again.


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