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Pistachio & Lemon cake with White Chocolate Sour Cream icing

 In Baked Goods, Dessert

Pistachio & Lemon Cake

People often ask me why I bake (why I cook as well but, well, I like to and need to eat so that’s easily answered). But baking is different. Yes, of course I like to eat baked goods. There are very few people on earth (if any) who don’t. But baking awakens something inside me. I always say that baking makes me feel like a true domestic goddess. You see, I loathe all other domestic duties, other than shopping and cooking. I can clean if I’m forced but I truly hate every second of it. I can wash and iron clothes but never, ever do it with any enthusiasm and of needlework and sewing I know about as much as I do of quantum physics. But baking, although a science, is relatively easy and accessible. The outcome (if successful) is always delightful and gives pleasure to all of those lucky enough to be in the vicinity. Baking brings joy, and joy is something I want plenty of in my life.

Pistachio & Lemon Cake

The idea for this cake came to me when I had a packet of pistachios in the house one day and I couldn’t think of anything to do with them, except to sit cross-legged on the couch and eat them as is. At that same time I was paging through my book (as one does) and saw the recipe for my lemon-yoghurt mini loaves which is one of my favourite cake recipes, ever. I love the simplicity of it and I am obsessed with the incredible flavour of it. I decided to add some ground pistachios to the batter which resulted in this stunner of a cake.

Pistachio & Lemon Cake  Pistachio & Lemon Cake

The pistachios of course add a lovely hue of green to the cake but it also imparts a delicate nuttiness which is just so lovely. It also adds a little texture as I didn’t grind them too fine. The cake is very moist with a soft crumb and the lemon zest adds just the right amount of kick to keep things interesting. The cake could be served as is but I really wanted something creamy on top and so decided to make the simplest of icings. I mixed a slab of melted white chocolate with a tub of sour cream until shiny and smooth and dolloped this onto the cake. This adds a velvety smooth element to the cake and the acidity of the sour cream cuts through the sweetness of the cake. I finished the cake off with thick strips of lemon zest and I can tell you with all honesty that this is just divine. Perfect for afternoon tea or for eating while sitting on the couch after the kids have gone to bed (well it is for me anyway).

Pistachio & Lemon Cake

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pistachio & Lemon cake with White Chocolate Sour Cream icing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cuisine: Cake, Baking, Afternoon tea,
Serves: 8-10
  • 200g cake flour (all purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 cup (250ml) plain yoghurt
  • ½ cup (125ml) canola oil
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g pistachios, shelled and finely chopped/ground
for the icing
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped
  • 250ml sour cream/Crème fraîche
  • lemon zest, to serve
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°c and line a 20cm deep cake pan with baking paper.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt & sugar into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine the yoghurt, oil, eggs and lemon zest in a jug and mix well.
  4. Pour the yoghurt and oil mixture into the flour and mix well.
  5. Fold in the ground pistachios.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the pre-heated oven.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.
  9. To make the icing, combine the melted chocolate with the sour cream and mix well until the icing is smooth.
  10. When the cake is cool, dollop the icing on top and decorate with lemon zest.

I used my new Kitchen Aid food processor to process the pistachios. The food processor is available from This is not a sponsored post but TAKEALOT were incredibly generous and sent me the processor.

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Showing 25 comments
  • Edenpassante

    Beautiful! Sounds delicious!!

  • Liza


    so since pistachios are insanely expensive over here in Germany I substituted them for ground almonds and made cupcakes instead of a cake….and they were so, so GOOD. Thank you so much for this recipe, it’s become one of my favorites!

    Greetings from Germany,


    • Alida Ryder

      So glad you liked the recipe Liza. Pistachios are expensive fullstop! Great substitution.

  • Alida Ryder

    Irene, I don’t have a lot of knowledge of gluten-free baking unfortunately but I imagine the taste will be altered. Perhaps try and see? And please let me know the outcome if you do!

  • Irene

    Is it possible to make this cake gluten free or would the taste be altered too much? Thanks

  • Alida Ryder

    Roshni the pan was around 22cm in diameter.

  • roshni

    What size pan did you bake this in?

  • Alida Ryder

    Ek hoop jy geniet dit Marli!

  • Marli

    Gaan dit die naweek maak! Lyk baie lekker!

  • Ibti

    Hi Alida, this looks gorgeous. If I wanted to make this in a square/rectangle shape, which size tins would you recommend?

    • Alida Ryder

      I would say between 20-25cm should be perfect.

  • Caroline

    Amazing cake. Fresh and moelleux!
    Loved it!

  • Delia Jordaan

    I made this cake for my birthday tea yessterday and it was amazing, it got such rave reviews!!! It has raced to the top of my best cake list. I think the icing is so clever as it is so simple yet SO delicious.

    and tonight I will have teh last leftover slice on the couch when the children has gone to bed.

    Thank you for a great recipe!

    • Alida Ryder

      So glad you liked it Delia. It’s one of my favourites as well!

  • Ronja @ a dash of faith

    I love everything about this cake! I recently got a big bag of pistachios and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to use them and this looks just perfect. I love the white chocolate frosting on top, and the lemon zest in there as well!

  • Catherine

    Do you think I could adapt these to cupcakes?

    • Alida Ryder

      Catherine, I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t be able to. Just adapt the cooking times.

  • Hannelie

    I am always looking for a new and “fresh” recipe, beside the usual, to bake when my father-in-law comes to visit for the weekend. This is the perfect recipe! Can’t wait to try it!!

    • Alida Ryder

      Hannelie, I hope you (and your father-in-law) likes this cake! 🙂

  • Kim

    I couldn’t agree more! I try to bake something different every weekend. I don’t seem to find the time to bake in the week, but every Saturday or Sunday the cake stand gets filled with a different creation for the week. This one has now made it to near the top of my list. I promised my better-half a lemon meringue this weekend, but I think next weekend it will need to be this pistachio and lemon cake. It sounds just DIVINE!! I’m salivating at my desk.

    • Alida Ryder

      Kim, there’s such pleasure to be found in creating delicious cakes! I hope you and your better-half love this cake as much as we did. 🙂

  • Delia Jordaan

    Hi there

    I SO share your feelings on baking. I love it and if I had a choice would do it every day. I’m sure there are enough recipes to keep me busy every day for 3 life times. When I had a hard day at work (my day job is really nothing to write about) (like yesterday) I go into the kitchen after I settled my two children in bed and I bake. I did that last night and today I am in a far better mood. I make a killer of a banana loaf and had some bananas on the verge of going off so that is what I baked last night. Hoewever I did not have the vanilia the recipe called for so I added some chocolate extract I recently received in a giveaway. It has sent my already good loaf into a different level of goodness. I can not even put my finger on exactly what the difference is but it is just better. So this morning I am happy and the people at my office are very happy.

    That brings me to this recipe of yours. Guess what I will be doing this weekend. It looks just amazing and I can not wait to try it. Sunday tea and dessert sorted.

    • Alida Ryder

      Delia, baking is truly therapeutic. 🙂 That banana loaf with chocolate extract sounds incredible! Let me know what you think of this cake!

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