You know, you would think I would be sick of cake. I mean I do work with it everyday and oh the atrocity of my apron stiff with icing would make anyone give up sugar for a year (well that's pretty extreme, okay only a week). But no, not me. I'd like to blame my grandfather and his enormous sweet tooth, graciously passed down to me. Maybe it's because I never eat it, trying to live my healthy lifestyle yet denying my craving which makes them worse. Whatever it is sweet things fascinate me, cake being one of my favorites.
Looking back into my childhood and growing up there have been funny little events that show my love for cake. Like when I was in elementary school and my absolute favorite thing at our yearly fairs was the cake walk.
Or when I was in middle school and I visited my grandparents and we baked a cake together. I still remember my grandmother telling me it tasted like wedding cake it was so good. The best is my 8th grade year when we had a Roman-Greek festival at school and I entered the baking contest, making a cake inspired by the goddess Hestia and that's right, won.
And I'm still in love, especially with this cake. I made it for a birthday party we put together for a couple of coworkers (happy birthday Molly and David!) but really wanted something unique and different, something you wouldn't think about eating in a cake. At first I thought about almond cake but here's where I let you in with a secret, I don't own a food processor, a blender, or a mixer. Well, now I own a mixer that I proudly bought this week with the justification of making this cake (plus it came with two cool bread hooks!). Anyway to make a good almond cake you kind of need a food processor to finely chop the nuts into a "flour" so that became out of the question; hey I am a working college student and the mixer is bad enough. It worked in my favor because then I thought of pistachio cake which is way better than almond cake. After tinkering with a few ideas of cake, filling, icing, I finally made the decision that I hoped would win the hearts of my friends: pistachio cake with almond custard filling and chocolate ganache. Oh yes. It was amazing.
I searched very hard for a good recipe and finally found one through Chocolate & Zucchini except she had chocolate in hers. Seeing as I already was putting a ganache on top, I skipped the chocolate part and just make it pistachio cake plus a few minor changes. If you like the idea of mixing the two, check out her original recipe here.
Pistachio Cake with Almond Custard and Chocolate Ganache
For The Cake
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pistachios
Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Grease two 8" round cake pans and cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Grease that as well and flour the pan.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until nice and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time mixing between each but don't over mix. Add in the yogurt or sour cream and vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and chopped pistachios. Slowly mix the dry into the wet batter and pour into the cake pans. Put in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. Once a toothpick comes out clean, take out and let rest for 5 minutes then putting on a rack to cool completely.
For The Custard
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. almond extract
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in saucepan. In a separate bowl beat eggs and mix together with milk. Stir into dry mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and bubbling. Cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat, add almond extract and stir well. Cover surface of filling with plastic wrap to prevent film from forming and chill completely before using.
For the Ganache
4 oz. bittersweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
Chop the chocolate into very small pieces and put in a bowl. Put the cream in a sauce pan over medium heat until simmer, don't get too hot or it will curdle. Once hot, pour the cream over the chocolate and wait 5 minutes. Stir until you get a consistent chocolate sheen. Then let it cool (I let mine cool overnight).
Take cool cakes and cut each in half. Put the first half on your serving plate and layer with a generous amount of almond filling. Top with the other half and put more filling in. Continue layering with the second cake. Pour the cooled chocolate ganache on top and decorate as desired.