Lemon Pistachio Cake

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Lemon Pistachio Cake

This Spring I am obsessed with Lemon. Well, actually, I am always kind of obsessed with Lemon, but this Spring it seems especially strong. I am going to try to spread out all of the lemon based recipes that I am baking and collecting over here, but this one needs to be out in the universe right away.

I am very into the idea of layering right now, and combining different ingredients in new ways. This cake combines two lovely Spring flavors, lemon and pistachio. They are gorgeous together- completely complimentary.

This cake has a crispy, dense layer of pistachio crust on the bottom, and then a tender layer of Lemon Buttermilk cake baked right on top of it. It is finshed with a sweet and sour lemon glaze, and garnished with gorgeous chopped raw pistachios.


It definitely makes an impact with how pretty it is. I also think that this cake can do double duty as a dessert, tea cake or as a breakfast cake. I served this for brunch this past weekend. The other good news is that it sits well. The (shrinking) leftovers have been under a cake dome on the counter this week. Three days after I first served it, my mom (who is picky!) declared it still great. That means it was still great three days later ☺

OK- hopefully this can brighten up a meal for your family or friends in the near future.

Lemon-Pistachio Cake

Pistachio Layer
1 1/2 cups AP flour
2 cups raw pistachio nuts
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
½ tsp salt

Lemon Buttermilk Cake
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1-2 Tbs fresh lemon zest, (skin of 2 large lemons)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

Lemon Glaze
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1/3-1/2 cup lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare a 10” Spring form pan with baking spray.


For the Pistachio Layer:
In a food processor, combine the flour, pistachios, sugar and salt. Pulse until well combined. Add the butter and pulse until a green, uniform dough forms.



Pour the dough into the spring form pan.

Press into a firm crust on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.



For the Cake Layer:
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the butter, sugar and lemon zest.


Beat the butter, sugar and zest together until they are light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients and set aside.

With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, combining thoroughly in between.


Add the lemon juice, (it will look curdled, but it’s not!)

Add one half of the dry ingredients, and then half of the buttermilk.


Finish with the rest of the dry ingredients, and mix the batter until all of the ingredients are completely combined and the batter is light and fluffy.

Pour the cake batter on top of the pistachio layer.


Bake the cakes on a middle shelf for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool before removing from the pan.

While the cake is cooling, whisk until the desired consistency: Opaque and thick enough to coat, but still runny enough to drip down the sides.

When the cake is completely cool, pour the glaze over the top, letting it drip down the sides.
Sprinkle with a few Tbs of chopped pistachio nuts.



Slice and Enjoy!



Leave a Reply


  1. Mmmmm, this looks fantastic. I’m going to be honest, I’ve never done pistachio. In fact, me and my meat and potatoes self hasn’t even tried a pistachio ever I don’t think…. hmmm. But, the way you simplify things and present them makes them look very desirable so I think I’m going to step out of my comfort zone and give this one a try. I’ve got one more major shoot to get out of my way and then I can get back in the kitchen. I finished my last wedding now I’ve got to finish the baseball league I shot then I’ll have more time to cook. Thanks for this new inspiration.

    • Lol! Sounds like you don’t have much going on! Start small and grab some pistachios that are roasted and salted and eat them at the baseball game! They are delicious :)

  2. Oh my, I could probably eat that entire cake….


  3. salsabil says:

    I live in the pistachio land in fact i grew with it from the birth date but this recipe is a new version of pistachio cake we have a hundred recipe for it ,i will try it enshalah

  4. That looks so wonderfully amazing, there just aren’t words!!!

  5. What an original cake, Heather and it’s beautiful to look at, too.

  6. marla says:

    Heather, you have outdone yourself with this gorgeous cake. i have been so into pistachios and lemon lately. Must try this recipe.
    Love the photo of you on your home page!

  7. Vicki B says:

    Heather, this looks utterly amazing. You’ve really out done yourself.

  8. Bridget says:

    I’m a butter aficionado myself, but holy cow, three sticks of butter in a cake? I had to recheck your recipe to make sure i had it right. Makes it taste better, right? :)

    • Oh my gosh! I guess i hadn’t even noticed! You could certainly cut the crust down to a half recipe, (therefore eliminating a stick!) and you would just have a thinner pistachio layer.

  9. Vicki in GA says:

    Anything lemon works for me.
    Pistachio and lemon – can’t go wrong with the combination.

  10. ButterYum says:

    Hi there. I linked over from tasty kitchen… I’m so eager to give this recipe a try…. looks utterly amazing!


  11. ButterYum says:

    PS – After submitting a number of recipes on the TK website, I’m in awe that you submitted this one… must have taken you forever to enter all these ingredients.

    • lol! I am just glad that people are interested in giving it a try!

  12. Julie says:

    I just tried this. I couldn’t get my glaze to be the white consistency in the pictures. It just remained yellow-ish, although a bit thicker than just lemon juice. What did I do wrong? I thought the cake layer was also a little mushy — did I underbake it?

    • Add more powdered sugar to thicken the glaze. The cake should be moist- but not mushy. It had to have needed a little longer. Did you cut into yet? I remember thinking that mine would be mushy, and it wasn’t when I cut into it. I am so sorry if it didn’t work out!

  13. Whitney says:

    This cake was perfect for a lemon and pistachio loving special friend. I definitely cut the pistachio crust in half because I also couldn’t enjoy a 3 stick o’ butter cake. (I wish I’d realize that before I mortar and pestled two cups of pistachios…no food processor here.) I also didn’t have a spring form pan, so I used a large oval casserole dish. It took about 40mins, but turned out great! And I used some milk and vanilla instead of lemon juice in the glaze because the cake was so delightfully lemony as is. It was delicious, but I don’t know how you made the glaze cascade over the cake so beautifully!

  14. This is so pretty! :)

  15. I have been meaning to post something like this on my blog and this gave me an idea. Cheers.

  16. piece says:

    Plenty of excellent design here…love this….

  17. Sarah says:

    delicious cake. how would you edit the recipe for a 9″ spring form pan? i used a 9″ and baked for about 45 mins and it was still slightly under cooked. what are your thoughts?? thanks!!

    • probably an extra 10 minutes should do it!

  18. julie mc says:

    This is amazing. I brought it into work, and everyone is stopping by to ask for the recipe. Thanks for this awesome treat!

  19. Mmm! I love how dense the pistachio layer looks. It reminds me of my first pistachio dessert – some pastry (the name of which is a guess to me) at this French bakery in Sarasota, FL. I can only get it when I’m visiting my Floridian cousins, but now, I finally found a recipe to try and recreate it!

  20. Tori says:


    For the Brits amongst us, what’s the weight of a stick of butter? Also what’s AP flour? I love pistachio and am planning to bake this for family the Easter Sunday.

    • Hi Tori!
      8 ounces or a half cup is a stick of butter
      AP flour just means plain old All Purpose

      Thank you for pointing that out- I will try to be more precise in the future- hope you enjoy the cake!!

  21. Anne says:

    I made this cake according to directions, except I halved the recipe for the pistachio layer. It needed about 40 minutes in the oven, and though it still seemed mushy I took it out. Once cooled it was perfect. This is an amazing recipe.