Cook from the heart : Food for every mood and a White chocolate Pistachio cake

Pistachio praline cake with white chocolate

When I think about how quickly this year has gone by, I feel a little short of breathe. I mean, how are we already in June? Because my birthday is June 16th, this is always the month that is a bit of a beacon in my year. The half way mark. And when we reach it, it’s always a downward spiral towards Christmas where, once again, I think to myself how quickly the year has gone by. But this year, more than any before, has flown for me. Perhaps because the first 4 months of 2013 were spent working tirelessly on a project that I’ve been dreaming about for just over a year.

Pistachio praline cake with white chocolate

The day I handed in the manuscript for my first book (Simple & Delicious, Recipes from the Heart), I started thinking about my next book. What it would be about. What it would look like. What it would be called. I thought about the concept non-stop and so, when my wonderful publishers, Penguin Books SA said they want me to write another book (round about last year October), I knew what it would be about. I knew what it would look like and I knew what it would be called.

Pistachio praline cake with white chocolate

Yes, this is me announcing my second book. The one that I’ve been waiting to write for a while now. We signed the contract in January and I was told the book would be published in October. 9 months. 9 months until my second book would be out. Just a year after the first’s release. This was a concept I found hard to grasp. “9 months? Are you sure? But, how?” They offered to hire people to assist me but I declined. My books are like my children, I don’t want help (except that of my husband, who is, to be honest, as much a part of creating the books as I am). I want to buy the ingredients myself. Choose the perfect tomato, thyme and garlic. I want to prep the ingredients myself. I want to cook the food. Style it and shoot it. I want to edit the photos and then write about it. I understand that this isn’t how it works for all cookbook authors and that many just simply can’t do it all themselves, but I can. And so I feel like I should. I’m also incredibly blessed with a husband who supports me and is always there when I need him. When I need a heavy surface to be carried or when I drop the meringue and is sitting sobbing on the kitchen floor, he’s there. Trying to salvage the situation. Lending words of encouragement.

Pistachio praline cake with white chocolate

But I’ve regressed. So yes, this is my announcement that my second book, Cook from the Heart: Food for every Mood  will be published in October 2013. It is a book that I am absolutely, head-over-heels in love with. A book that I’ve spent every waking moment from January till now thinking about. Even now, when I have no control over the process (the design, lay-out, printing, etc.) I think about it without fail because I’ve poured all of myself into it. I’ve designed the chapters, developed the recipes and worked and re-worked it all until I was genuinely happy with it.

Cook from the Heart: Food for every Mood, is a book that focuses on the emotion and mood behind eating. What we eat when we’re experiencing a specific emotion. The book has been broken up into 8 chapters, all encompassing a certain emotion/mood and all the recipes, styling and photography reflects those emotions. I’m not going into too much detail now, that you’ll have to wait a few more months for.

Pistachio praline cake with white chocolate

Perhaps the most daunting thing about this new book, is that I am going to be on the cover. Not my beautiful food, styling and photography. Me. This might not seem like a big deal but there’s a certain anonymity that comes with NOT being on a book cover. And that anonymity will be no more after October. I mean look, I’m not shy. I’m actually very much not-shy. But being on a book cover? Yep, pretty daunting. When Penguin told me they wanted me on the cover I had a mild panic attack and then jumped to action. I would surround myself with experts. A cover-shoot dream team if you will. I contacted my Twitter friend and photographer extroadinaire, Albie Bredenhann and he immediately said yes. I Facebooked make-up artist to the stars, Yolandi Herbst and roped in my trusted friend and hair stylist, Cornel from Follicle Hair Atelier. We went location scouting and found the most delicious, French Provencal house in a very affluent golf estate and set the date. I went through a gazillion outfit options and chose the one I like the most. And on the day of the shoot, everything just came together. Of course, I still see all the imperfections other people don’t but I can honestly say that I am so happy with the cover. It’s me. Smiley, happy, cooking me and I’m actually ok with it being out there.

Pistachio praline cake with white chocolate

So now, we’re doing the last of the editing and designing and it’s coming together beautifully. It’s a bit of a relief that my work is now done. And so, in 5 months, my new baby will be out for you to buy and I hope you do. Of course, because I want it to be a success but also because I think this is a bit of a special one. Until then, I’ll be sharing more of the book with you and will keep you up to date with the release date, etc. But for now, I leave you with a cake so delicious, it’s the perfect recipe to celebrate with! (I would’ve topped it with sparklers but then I realised the twins got hold of them, but never mind. Bubbly and cake makes for perfect Celebration fodder!)

Pistachio Praline cake with White Chocolate

5 from 1 vote
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Course: Baking, Cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Author: Alida Ryder
Servings: 10


for the pistachio cake

  • 400 g cake flour
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 250 g butter room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 100 g pistachios toasted and finely ground

for the pistachio praline

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 100 g pistachios toasted

for the cream filling

  • 500 ml cream
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar sifted
  • 2 tablespoons pistachio praline

to decorate

  • white chocolate shavings
  • edible glitter


  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°c and grease and line 3 20cm cake pans.
  • Place all the cake ingredients in the bowl of a free-standing mixer and mix for 2 minutes until well combined and smooth.
  • Distribute the batter between the cake pans and place in the oven.
  • Allow to bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  • To make the praline, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over medium heat.
  • Stir until the sugar has dissolved then stop stirring and wash down the sides of the pot with water and a pastry brush. Allow the caramel to boil until amber in colour.
  • Place the pistachios on a baking paper-lined tray and pour over the amber caramel.
  • Allow to set and cool completely then break up and blitz to a rough powder in a food processor.
  • To assemble the cake, whisk the cream and icing sugar until soft peaks form then fold in the praline.
  • Top a layer of cake with a third of the cream then place another layer of cake on top.
  • Repeat and finish the cake with the white chocolate shavings and a sprinkle of glitter.



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  1. I made this last night for my coworkers – it was really delicious! Not too sweet, you could really taste the pistachios, and I liked the simpler frosting. Will make again. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  2. This cake looks wonderful! Do you really just put all the ingredients for the cake together all at once??? Love how easy it seems to put together. What do you think of adding some vanilla to the cake? Can’t wait to try it!

    1. Yup, I have a few cake recipes where you just mix everything together. The key to is that all the ingredients should be the same temperature so make sure the eggs and butter have come to room temp before mixing or else it won’t combine to a creamy batter. Vanilla would be a great addition!

  3. Huge congrats Ally, I have such admiration for you, your work ethic and complete dedication. I can’t wait to see your book. X

  4. I’m thrilled, congratulations. I love your first book and your blog, will be first in the queue for the second.