Pistachio Lover’s Pound Cake

Unfailingly for the past 15 years, a tremendously big bag of Bazzini pistachios, sent by one of my husband’s clients, has arrived at our door every holiday season. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining—I love pistachios. Making your way through five pounds can prove dangerous, though. By early February, I find myself dispensing pistachios to friends, neighbors, and basically anyone who stops by. In order to spread the love and use up the pistachios, I created this Pistachio Pound Cake. Dense and savory with a nutty flavor, it satisfies any pistachio lover’s craving.–Rebecca Miller Ffrench

LC 'Tis Better to Give Than to Receive Note

Considering that ’tis better to give than to receive, it may not be a bad thing that this recipe results in a pound cake of ample proportions. So go ahead, gift away. Just bear in mind that slices of the obscenely rich loaf disappear quickly. While it may be divine to share, we consider it smart to set aside a slice or two for yourself first. Trust us.

Pistachio Pound Cake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 2 H
  • Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients

  • For the pistachio pound cake
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2/3 cup ground pistachios
  • For the glaze
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup crushed pistachios

Directions

  • Make the pistachio pound cake
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the 2 long sides of the pan. Butter the pan and parchment.
  • 2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and honey on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • 3. Add the flour and the milk to the creamed egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat on medium-high for about 20 seconds between additions, stopping and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and the pistachios and beat on low just until combined.
  • 4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the cake is cracked on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Take a peek at the cake after around 45 minutes and if it’s beginning to brown quite a lot, cover the cake with aluminum foil to prevent the top from becoming too brown.
  • 5. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then either grab the parchment overhang and carefully unmold the loaf or invert the loaf onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment and slide it under the wire rack. Let the loaf cool completely.
  • Make the glaze
  • 6. While the cake cools, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, honey, and cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
    If you prefer a simple, runny glaze, heat just until the mixture is combined.
    If you prefer a sticky, candylike glaze, cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble. Continue to cook, still stirring, for 1 minute. Remove the glaze from the heat.
  • 7. Slowly spoon the warm glaze over the cake, allowing it to soak in between spoonfuls. Some of the glaze will inevitably run down the sides of the cake. Sprinkle the crushed pistachios over the cake and let it cool for 1 hour before slicing and serving.
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Comments
Comments
  1. Testers Choice says:

    [Kate Knapp] I’m nuts about this pound cake. The texture was perfect for a pound cake and it looks really beautiful when it’s topped with the green nuts. I love the sticky glaze and the crunch of crushed pistachios. I will say, however, that this recipe takes quite a bit of time. The preparation is simple enough, but waiting for the cake to cool, then glazing it, and then waiting for it to cool again requires a few hours. As such, this isn’t a last-minute dessert and takes a bit of planning ahead. It’s also worth noting that it only took an hour for my cake to brown and fully cook. But if you have the time and love pistachios, this is definitely the cake for you!

  2. Testers Choice says:

    [Jo Ann Brown] I’ll admit up front that I didn’t glaze the pound cake. Forgive me, but some of us try to save any extra calories for an end-of-day glass of wine. The cake itself was delicious. I love how much flavor the honey brings to this recipe—I’m pretty astounded by it, actually. This pound cake would be a great dinner party dessert served with a cheese plate and paired with figs and honey. Can you see it? I totally can!

  3. Testers Choice says:

    [Sheri C.] This is a nice, not-too-sweet pound cake. It’s dense and the pistachios and honey marry well together. I especially like the honey in the glaze. Don’t be fooled, though—even though this isn’t an overly sweet cake, it’s very rich.

  4. Testers Choice says:

    [Lori Widmeyer] This was a wonderfully moist, extremely easy pound cake to make. I thought the batter was a little too much for my loaf pan and that it’d spill over, but it turned out perfectly. I think that the almond extract helped create the perfect hint of honeyed almond. We only ended up with 10 slices (I can’t really say 10 servings because some of us ate more than 1 slice).

  5. Testers Choice says:

    [Steve Dunn] Looking for a pound cake that’s as pretty as it is tasty? Then look no further; you’ve found it here. As someone who always has a container of raw pistachio meats in my pantry (great on yogurt, granola, and oatmeal), I was excited to try this twist on a traditional plain vanilla pound cake. I found that the almond extract really enhanced the nuttiness of the bread. The batter is thick, so after spooning it into the pan, make sure to level the top and press it into the corners. My cake was fully cooked at 1 hour and 15 minutes. So take heed. A word about the glaze: When boiled for a minute, the glaze was a bit sticky and chewy, not unlike the caramel coating on a sticky bun. I actually liked the texture, but if you’re looking for more of a simple glaze, you might want to just heat it enough to incorporate the ingredients and not bring it to a full boil. In the end, the cake was beautiful with its glaze coating and sprinkling of chopped nuts. It boasts a deep, nutty flavor and a tight crumb, and it’s delightfully moist. Enjoy it straight up with a cup of coffee or tea, or as we did, accompanied with a few spoonfuls of homemade cherry compote. Yum.

  6. Testers Choice says:

    [Raye Tiedemann] This pound cake was an all-morning project that kept me watching the clock until that first bite, but it was more than worth the wait. It’s a really dense batter. I beat the butter, sugar, and honey and then added the eggs until it was all really fluffy. By the time I added the flour and milk I was wondering if it was going to fit in the loaf pan with the parchment and not overflow. I had bought already-peeled pistachios, so I just had to grind them. They were lightly salted and this didn’t seem to interfere with the taste, and actually may have brought out the sweetness. The only thing I’d change is that I thought that the glaze was a bit sticky. It could’ve been my fault, because I grabbed the half-and-half instead of the heavy cream. I’ll make this again. It’s just the best dessert—although I’m very doubtful if I’ll get 12 servings.

  7. Testers Choice says:

    [Adrienne Lee] I think that this cake is great—moist and tasty. It started to brown before 1 hour so I covered it with aluminum foil to make sure that it didn’t get too dark. The glaze, though, requires some care. I wouldn’t cook it more than 1 minute and I wouldn’t let it come to a boil. If it goes too long, it’ll become stringy and rubbery on top of the cake. I guess I think a glaze needs to be more liquid and not like candy.

  8. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Jill R.] What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this recipe? Pistachios, butter, pound cake—it’s a magical combination. My cake took 1 1/2 hours and was a rich golden brown; however, as I discovered upon cutting the cake, it really should have baked for the full 1 hour, 40 minutes as it had not completely set in the middle. The lovely salty sweet taste of the cake compensated for the fact that it was slightly underdone. The glaze came out like toffee—creamy, buttery, and again with that wonderful salty sweetness. I used both the vanilla and almond extracts in the cake and the almond did come through a little, I wonder if perhaps changing it to 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla butter & nut extract might work better. I think that tossing the ground pistachios you put into the cake with some of the flour would also help to keep them from sinking to the bottom. All in all, though, this recipe makes a wonderful cake. Everyone I work with who had a slice loved it. It is definitely a keeper in my book.

  9. Stu B. says:

    Just a question from a new baker….where is the levening agent? Doesn’t the batter need something like butter milk or sour cream and baking soda?

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi Stu, a pound cake is by nature a dense cake and leavened by creaming the butter and sugar, then whipping eggs into the creamed mixture until light and airy. Let us know if you give it a try, we think you’ll love it!

  10. zila says:

    Great recipe. Eight ounces means how many grams?

    • David Leite says:

      zila, it’s 226.79 grams. If you click on the “metric conversion” link right above the ingredients list of each recipe, you’ll find all kinds of conversions.

  11. Mark Waitsman says:

    Good morning, David! As the baker in the house, I thank you from my wife. Yes, this sounds strange but she is the pistachio lover in the house and like some folks go crazy for chocolate, she “zones out” for the little green kernels. I will report back on the results. Thank you again for the great blog and recipes. Tastefully yours, Mark.

    • David Leite says:

      Hello Tasteful Mark. I greet you from somewhere of the coast of France. Thank you for your kind words. I’m a kindred spirit to your wife. I adore the green kernels and can eat an entire bowl of them. The One is the zonked-out chocoholic, which leaves plenty of pistachios for me!

      • Debbie D says:

        Unless she tries chocolate-covered (dark chocolate, please) pistachios rolled in powdered sugar! Watch out! So addicting and just the best!

  12. Mary says:

    This pistachio cake looks so delicious! Thanks for sharing.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You’re welcome, Mary. Our pleasure. And it can be your pleasure, too, with just an hour of minimal effort….

  13. nd says:

    Looks yummy. If i wanted to make the cake in advance and freeze it, should I bring it back to room temperature before glazing or will it freeze with the glaze?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Oh, it is yummy, nd. Yes, freeze the cake minus the glaze, for appearance sake as well as the sake of taste and texture. Once the cake is thawed, you may want to wrap it in foil and toss it in a warm oven just to heat it slightly before glazing. That will take the edge of any potential dryness incurred from being in the deep-freeze, though this cake is soooo moist, we seriously doubt you’ll have any issue with dryness.

  14. Roseanne A says:

    This looks amazing! I just ordered the book and can’t wait to see what other recipes are in there!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      It’s a lovely collection, Roseanne A. I think you’ll be quite, quite pleased with your investment….

  15. Jamie says:

    Another cookbook added to my wish list. Meanwhile I have to make this stunning cake. We are a pound cake family and I love the pistachio touch.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Lovely, Jamie. And you know what they say about the family that eats pound cake together….

  16. Colleen says:

    This looks amazing! We love the almond/pistachio flavor in out house, should I up the almond extract or would it be overpowering? Thanks for the recipe!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Colleen, I tend to find that almond extract can go from “Ah, that’s just the right amount” to “Woah, that’s really quite almondy!” in just a few drops, so I’d start with the amount noted this first time you bake it. The cake is very pistachio-y, with the almondy flavor just sort of supporting the pistachio-ness. Then if you’d like, you can always add a smidgen more the next time—cuz I do think there will be a next time based on how many folks are raving about this cake. Let us know what you decide to do—and what you think of the cake!

  17. Mj Drago says:

    I have a 5 lb. bag of pistachio flour to use. Are the nuts too finely ground for the pound cake recipe?

    Thank you,

    Mj

    • David Leite says:

      Hi MJ, I’m a bit on the fence. Some pistachio flours are coarser ground than others. Really finely ground pistachios will make for a more denser cake. I say, what the hell. Try it and tell us the result so future readers will know.

  18. Erin says:

    Hi! I just discovered this recipe through the beloved Pinterest and I’d love to make to make it next week for my pistachio-loving boyfriend’s birthday. My question is… Will I still be able to make it without a mixer?

    • David Leite says:

      Erin, technically you could, yes, but you most likely won’t get the same results. Do you have a hand mixer?

      • Erin says:

        I appreciate the response, David! I don’t have a hand mixer, but I can buy one if it will make a difference.

        • David Leite says:

          Erin, I’d hate to see you have less than stellar results. Of course, B.E. (before electricity) cooks beat all batters by hand. It can be tiring, trust me, and I find I tend to lose steam. And it’s all that beating in of air that helps give lift to the cake. There are no chemical leaveners in the recipe.

          • Erin says:

            Update: I bought a hand mixer and the cake turned out delicious; thank you for the instruction! My one issue I had was that it took way longer to finish baking at 325, maybe closer to 1hr 45min? I did cover it after the 1hr 15min was up & also ended up turning the temp to 350 for the last 10min. The middle top just seemed not done enough for most of that time, after the 1hr 15min.

            Regardless, it was delicious and I will be making this again. Next time I just might cover it earlier & take it out after the 1hr 15min and see what that’s like.

            Again, than you for the advice!

            All the best,
            Erin

            • David Leite says:

              Erin, congratulations!! Your next purchase needs to be two small oven thermometers. Hang them from the rack on the left and right side of the oven. Check to make sure your oven temp is accurate. My guess is your oven is running cool.

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