Pistachio has this hauntingly addictive flavor that is so distinctive compared to its "nutty" cousins.
While working on the cover of my upcoming bakebook, I intended to create a very simple sponge cake layered with cream and fresh strawberries almost reminiscent of the English Victoria Sponge Cake. However, I remembered the bottle of pistachio spread I bought from a German supermarket in Munich. I started drooling at the thought of combining raspberries and pistachio!
Many other things were also in the works while creating this new dessert piece. I previously was working on a knafeh filling for a client which left me some amount of the qashta filling (made of white cheese, clotted cream, corn flour and sugar) and sheera (sugar syrup with lemon juice and orange blossom and rose water). I love putting dissimilar concepts together and that is how I produce new ideas.
The pistachio spread was thick and strong in flavor. Mixing it with the light-flavored qashta filling mellowed down the pistachio-ness while contributing a more creamy texture. I also added a squeeze of fresh orange juice into the sheera heightening up the flavor.
To finish off the cake, I encased it in rolled marzipan and poured white fudge icing all over for a smooth finish (this is a pre-prepared mix sold by Puratos) - of course, the readily available liquid fondant would have done the same trick.
Still not contented with the results, I turned to my valuable dried flower petals and adorned the sides of the cake with it. Voila! It worked!
To recreate this gossamer fruity-nutty delight in your own kitchen, follow the recipes below:
LIGHT SPONGE CAKE
6 pieces Eggs, large - separated (the egg should weigh at least 50g)
180 grams Caster Sugar
180 grams T45 or All Purpose Flour (bleached), sifted
2 tsps. Pure Vanilla Extract
- Line 3 x 8" round cake tins.
- Preheat oven to 200 Celsius.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 80 grams of the sugar with hand or a portable mixer until light and thick - this takes around 5 minutes.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until frothy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form.
- Take about a third of the meringue mixture and fold in gently onto the beaten egg yolk.
- Pour the yolk mixture back onto the remaining meringue mixture and fold gently.
- Sift in the flour and fold carefully until well blended.
- Divide onto the three cake tins.
- Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Allow to cool down completely before removing from pan.
- Wrap the cake in cling film and chill before use.
PISTACHIO CREME FILLING
Note: The spread may not be easily available (which has a texture of a peanut butter). You may use pure pistachio paste instead and make adjustments to the recipe below until you achieve a creamy mix.
2/3 part Rewe Pistachio Cream
1/3 part Qashta Filling (recipe below)
1/4 part Cream, soft-whipped
Soften the pistachio cream by beating lightly with a spatula in a mixing bowl. Blend in the cooled qashta filling until well incorporated. Fold in the soft-whipped cream until mixture becomes firm. Place in the chiller until ready to use.
20 grams Cornstarch
80 grams Sugar
1 x 160 g can Nestlé Cream
120 grams Milk, full-cream
500 grams White Soft Cheese (de-salt the cheese in water for a day before use*)
- Mix together the cornstarch and sugar.
- Stir in some amount of milk to dissolve the cornstarch and sugar.
- In a saucepan, place the cream and remaining milk and bring to a boil.
- Add in the cornflour mixture and over medium heat stir continuously with a wooden spoon until very thick.
- Remove from heat and blend in the white soft cheese (de-salted). You may try replacing it with cream cheese.
*to de-salt the white soft cheese, slice it into smaller blocks. Add some water until the pieces are well covered. Chill. Allow to soak for about an hour and drain the water. Do this 4 times. Soak again in water and place the in the chiller until for another 20 hours (total of at least a day). Drain completely before use.
ORANGE SHEERA (sugar syrup)
200 grams Sugar
100 grams Water
1 tbsp. Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
1/8 tsp. Rose Water
1/8 tsp. Orange Blossom Water
120 grams Orange Juice, freshly squeezed
- Boil the sugar in the water with the lemon juice until completely dissolved.
- Allow to cool down slightly before adding the rose water and orange blossom.
- Stir in the orange juice.
- Refrigerate until cool.
- Level out the surface of the sponge cakes.
- Slice fresh raspberries into two. Set aside.
- Whip about 500 ml of whipping cream with 50 grams of icing sugar until firm. Set aside.
- Prepare the cake layers on a serving plate and follow the layering process:
- First, soak the top of the sponge with the orange sheera using a pastry brush. Be generous. The sponge cake is dry and you need to add some moisture.
- Spread a thin layer of the pistachio creme filling.
- Divide the halved raspberries onto the pistachio creme filling.
- Spread a layer of the whipped cream on top.
- Place the second layer of sponge on top pressing down gently to secure the cake well.
- Repeat the process one more time.
- For the final layer, soak the top with orange sheera as well.
- Cover the whole cake with the remaining whipped cream.
- Allow to set in the refrigerator before covering with marzipan. I used about 400 grams.
- If you are not confident enough with the procedure as it can be tricky, just stick to the whipped cream finishing and adorn with shaved white chocolate on the sides.
- If you want to replicate what I did, after gently covering with marzipan cover the entire cake with either white fudge icing from Puratos (I diluted with a bit of water and warmed the mixture up un the microwave) or fondant icing.
- Finish with the dried flower petals (of your preference and please use edible/organic ones).
- Finally, dust the top with icing sugar and place a few pieces of fresh raspberries on top.