With my younger brother still recovering from a serious car accident and long days at work, I’ve hardly spent much time baking recently… and even less blogging! I’ve missed it. I love to give my blog the attention it deserves, but it’s important to remember that people are always much more deserving of our attention. My Opa (Nicolaas) recently celebrated a birthday, and my younger brother (Nicholas) recently came home for the first time since his accident. Both occasions were celebrated with a rich, decadently dressed pistachio sponge cake covered in honey cream cheese frosting and seasonal fruit – which I’m calling a Two Nicholas Cake in their honour… Two of the best damn Nicholas’s the world has ever seen! I love them to bits!
~ for the sponge
125g shelled pistachios
300g lightly salted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
300g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 large, free-range eggs
225g self raising flour
~ for the sugar syrup
50g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
~ for the icing
300g icing sugar
75g lightly salted butter, at room temperature
200g cream cheese, cold
1 heaped tablespoon of Australian honey
An assortment of fresh fruit to decorate – I’ve used figs, muscatel grapes and sugar plums
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius/340 degrees Fahrenheit and line three 6″/15cm round cake tins and one baking tray with baking parchment.
Roast the pistachios nuts for 7-8 minutes on the baking tray, then set aside to cool. Place the nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Weigh out 25g and set them aside for decorating the cake.
To make the sponge, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a freestanding mixer using the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs and mix until fully combined. Add the flour and mix until just combined, then fold through the pistachio nuts until evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack.
To make the sugar syrup, heat the sugar and water over a high heat until it comes to the boil. Set aside to cool slightly, then add the vanilla extract.
While the cakes are still warm, poke holes in each sponge with a toothpick and brush with the sugar syrup. Leave the cakes to cool, ideally wrap them in foil and leave at room temperature overnight, then trim the tops and halve each sponge, giving you six layers.
When you’re ready to assemble the cake, make the icing by placing the icing sugar and butter in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and whisking slowly until you have a sandy consistency. Add the cream cheese and mix on a high speed for a minute or two (don’t over mix your icing or it will go slack). Mix in the honey and then sandwich each layer of the sponge together with a portion of the icing. Cover the cake in the remaining icing and decorate with pistachio nuts and fresh fruit.