The Cottage Café, Bakery & Tea Room’s Recipe for Pistachio Cream Cake
Ever since Bluffton Today ran last month’s five-star review of The Cottage Café, Bakery & Tea Room, in Old Town, Bluffton, S.C. I’ve been deluged with requests (more like pleas) for the restaurant’s recipe for homemade Pistachio Cream Cake, dubbed as “stellar,” by the newspaper’s Undercover Eater. Being a baker, I just had to sample a piece for myself, so calling ahead to be sure they had some left, I got a piece to go and set out on dissecting the cake – moist crumb, for moist crumb – trying my best to come up with a recipe that could replicate The Cottage’s three-layer study in scrumptiousness (yes, “scrumptiousness” is a word). So, never dreaming the restaurant would ever part with their formula, I baked about three cakes before being somewhat satisfied with the results. My cake was good, but really not in the same league as The Cottage’s cake. Feeling a little frustrated, I began thinking, ‘no harm in asking, right?’ So, I did, with restaurant owner, chef, baker Leslie Rohland, graciously saying, “Yes, I will share my recipe.” And, Leslie did, that very day. (It’s the busiest folks who respond the soonest, don’t you know.) So, here you are, The Cottage’s recipe for Pistachio Cream Cake and the one I played around with, too. As frosting, Leslie recommends using a traditional cream cheese frosting, whipped white chocolate ganache or a vanilla buttercream, so I chose an adaptation of King Arthur Flour’s divine recipe for Fluffy White Buttercream Frosting for crowning Leslie’s masterpiece. The icing is not difficult to make and pipes like a dream. A sweet dream, come true.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at email@example.com.
The Cottage Café, Bakery & Tea Room Pistachio Cream Cake
Recipe courtesy The Cottage Café, Bakery & Tea Room
38 Calhoun Street, Bluffton, 757-0508
(Dinner is back at The Cottage, on Fridays and Saturdays, from 6 p.m., by reservation.
2½ cups sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sour cream
½ cup pistachio paste
½ cup pistachio nuts, finely chopped*
Cream Cheese, Whipped White Chocolate Ganache, or Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray and line three 8 x 2-inch cake pans with parchment.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy and light in color, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add the sugar and continue to mix until fluffy and light. Add the eggs, one at a time, being sure each is well mixed before adding the next one. Add vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with sour cream. Add pistachio paste and nuts and mix just until blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth, pound pans on counter 4 to 5 times. Bake 30-40 minutes* or until toothpick comes out clean. The top should be nicely browned or in this case “greened.”
“For frosting, the best one is a traditional cream cheese frosting or a whipped white chocolate ganache is divine!! We have made this cake with several different frostings, even a vanilla buttercream. Add pistachio paste to any frosting for a richer and nuttier flavor and of course, add ground pistachios too!” – Leslie Rohland, The Cottage Café, Bakery & Tea Room, Bluffton
*Kitchen Ade Notes: If at all possible, use unsalted pistachios in this recipe. Some brands of nuts are highly salted and could alter the quality of your cake. If you cannot locate unsalted nuts, adjust the amount of salt you use when making the batter. Also, my layers were fully baked in 25 minutes, so begin testing your cake at the shortest baking time. For a moist cake, it is important not to overbake this cake.
Pistachio (Pudding in the Mix) Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting
Makes 1 (9-inch) single layer cake
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup (1.5 ounces) shelled pistachio nuts (preferably unsalted)
1-2/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend or substitute with Softassilk Cake Flour
(measure by spooning flour into a measuring cup, then leveling with the flat end of aknife)
1 (3.4 ounce) box Jell-O instant pistachio pudding
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt (if pistachios are salted, omit salt)
½ teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup full fat buttermilk (shaken well), room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform form; line bottom with parchment. Spread pistachios in one layer on the bottom of a small oven-proof dish and bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Allow to cool, then grind to a powder with a food processor; set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, pudding mix, baking powder and salt; mix in ground pistachios, stirring well to blend; set aside. Place buttermilk in a 1-cup measuring cup; stir in baking soda, vanilla and almond extracts; set aside. Place butter and sugar in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer. With mixer set to medium speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Lower speed and add eggs, one at a time, mixing just until yellow disappears. With mixer still on low, add flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk mixture, mixing until combined. (Stop mixture halfway through to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula.) Bake for 50 minutes, or until cake tests done. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before releasing cake from pan. Allow cake to completely cool on rack before frosting with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting.
Fluffy Buttercream Frosting
Recipe by King Arthur Flour, www.kingarthurflour.com (1-800-827-6836)
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) boiling water
1/4 cup (1 ounce) meringue powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract*
*If making pistachio buttercream frosting, substitute ¼ cup pistachio paste for the
4 cups (16 ounces) sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 cups (4 sticks, 16 ounces) softened unsalted butter, vegetable shortening, or a combination of both*
*(King Arthur Flour loves the taste of butter but recommends using some (or all) vegetable shortening if your cake will be sitting in a hot place. The shortening will help to keep the frosting from melting.) Kitchen Ade Note: For best flavor, use all butter.
Dissolve the sugar (and salt, if you’re using it) in the boiling water, and cool to room temperature. Mix in the meringue powder. Use a mixer to beat on slow speed for several minutes, until the powder is dissolved and the mixture is foamy. Increase the speed and beat until soft peaks form. Beat in the vanilla, then the confectioners’ sugar. Add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Yield: Enough frosting to fill and frost an 8-inch three-layer cake or 24 cupcakes.