Due to the fact that my mother dearest is gluten-free and a huge lover of all things sweet, I’m always on the look out for scrumptious gluten-free cakes that taste great, don’t have that horrible grainy texture that gluten-free cakes often do, and which are actually quite light in consistency.  This pistachio lemon cake from Phillippa Grogan & Richard Cornish’s book – Phillippa’s Home Baking ticks all those boxes.  With the pistachios & almonds in this recipe, it’s extremely moist.  But somehow, with the creamed butter and the 4 whole eggs, it’s also surprisingly light.  The gorgeous caramelised lemon syrup on top which makes the chopped pistachios shimmer in the light is exquisite and makes it a truly remarkable gluten-free cake.

40 g unsalted pistachios
300 g cultured butter, softened {I used normal, unsalted butter.}
240 g caster sugar
4 eggs
pinch of salt
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
130 g ground pistachios – Freshly ground nuts taste better than ready-ground because they haven’t oxidised.  All you need to do is place shelled nuts in a food processor and pulse until they form a fine meal – don’t over-process or they will turn to nut butter.  Purchased ground nuts (or nut meal) may be substituted, but you will get inferior results.
90 g ground almonds
40 g arrowroot flour or cornflour {Arrowroot flour is gluten-free but not all cornflour is gluten-free so if you are cooking for people on a gluten-free diet please check the box.}

Syrup topping
finely grated zest & juice of 1 large lemon
50 g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan.  Line the base of a 20 cm round cake tin with baking paper.

Spread out the pistachios on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 8 minutes.  Remove and rub in a clean tea towel to remove the skins, then roughly chop.  Set aside until you make the syrup.  Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/145°C fan.


Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.  Add the salt, vanilla seeds and lemon zest and mix well, then gently fold through the ground nuts and flour, a third at a time.


Pour the batter into the tin and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 1 hour 10 minutes – 1 hour 25 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and rest in the tin for 5 minutes before placing a plate over the tin and upturning the cake onto the plate.  Gently peel off the lining paper from the bottom of the cake.  Place another plate on the bottom of the cake and upturn the cake again so it is right-side up.


To make the syrup topping, place the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes or until slightly thickened and syrupy, but fresh and tangy in flavour.  Stir in the chopped pistachios and lemon zest, then spoon evenly over the cake while it is still warm.  This cake is delicious on its own or you could serve it with ripe stonefruit blanched in boiling water for a few minutes to remove skins, sliced into wedges and sprinkled with 2 teaspoons sugar to bring out their flavour.  A bowl of berries is also lovely with this cake.

This cake will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


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It’s really the perfect cake to share with your friends and loved ones for morning tea, afternoon tea, dessert; or even a solo breakfast – with a hot cup of tea!

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