Pistachio and Cardamom Pound Cake with Lemon Icing

by spiceaholic on November 1, 2011


Fragrant cardamom and toasted pistachios lend an exotic twist to the classic pound cake, which is then topped by a lemony icing.  The ingredients evoke the flavors of the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, reminding me of the desserts served at oh so many dinner parties growing up.  This pound cake tastes as good as it sounds and looks, trust me!

I have been wanting to make this cake for quite some time now, ever since I saw the recipe in Suvir Saran’s American Masala: 125 New Classics From My Home Kitchen.  When Brandi posted a round-up of pound cake recipes recently, it inspired me to finally take the plunge and make it.  However, trying to find the raw, unsalted pistachios called for in the recipe was almost my undoing – I could only find roasted, salted pistachios at the grocery stores near me, and I wasn’t about to go driving all over the metro Atlanta area to see if I could find them at a Middle Eastern or Indian grocery store.  Fortunately, I was able to find a compromise — I lucked out and finally found some shelled, roasted, unsalted pistachios at Whole Foods.  I promise though, it was worth the search.

Pistachio and Cardamom Pound Cake with Lemon Icing, from American Masala: 125 New Classics From My Home Kitchen

Cake Ingredients:

1 cup raw, shelled pistachios  (I used roasted, unsalted pistachios)

1 stick, plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. ground cardamom

1/4 tsp. salt

3 large eggs

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup whole milk

Icing Ingredients:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp. ground cardamom

1.5 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. heavy cream or milk


Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Toast the pistachios on a foil-lined baking sheet for about 5 minutes, until they become fragrant.  Let them cool, then pulse until fine in a food processor.  Now reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


While the pistachios are cooling, take an 8.5 inch x 4.5 inch loaf pan and grease it with 1/2 tbsp. of butter.  Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper and grease it as well.  I used cooking spray instead of butter.

Combine the flour, baking powder, ground cardamom, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Add the vanilla to the eggs in a separate bowl and set aside.

Cream the remaining butter with the sugar until fluffy.  Slowly add in the eggs.  Now alternate adding the flour and milk, making sure to start and finish with the flour.  Fold in the pistachios, then put the batter into the loaf pan.  Now keep yourself from licking the batter from the mixer and bowl.




Bake about 45-55 minutes.  Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes, then move to a cooling rack and finish letting the cake cool.  I couldn’t find my cooling rack, so I just moved it to a silpat-lined baking sheet.



While the cake is cooling, make the icing by combining the confectioner’s sugar, ground cardamom, lemon juice, and milk in a bowl.  Whisk until all combined.  Pour the icing over the cake, spreading it over the top and letting it go over the sides of the cake.  Let icing set, then cut into slices and serve.



I loved how this cake smells, both before and after baking.  Cardamom is one of my favorite spices, and I love how its fragrance is highlighted in this recipe.  To play up the Middle Eastern/Indian notes in this cake, next time I will try experimenting by incorporating rosewater either in the cake or in the icing.  This is definitely going in my recipe rotation!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

brandi November 1, 2011 at 1:18 pm

it looks awesome! i love pistachios.

Suvir Saran November 2, 2011 at 11:54 am

Orange Blossom Water is excellent inside the cake and in the icing.
Glad you enjoyed making it and tasting it.
Thanks for getting the book and blogging too.

Ed Hoos November 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I want to make that cake! Love pistachios and cardamom!

Jenny November 2, 2011 at 12:42 pm

It looks amazing – going to try to make this today – my husband’s co-worker’s birthday is tomorrow – and I made him cheesecake brownies and regular brownies -but I might have to make this too (two of them one for me). I love Suvir Saran – and I have all his books and had pre-ordered this one a while back – looking forward to it’s release in December.

Sandi November 3, 2011 at 9:02 pm

OMG – I can almost smell it from here!!! That looks like something from a bakery, and as usual I am SO impressed.

spiceaholic November 3, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Thanks, Brandi! So glad I saw your round-up!

spiceaholic November 3, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Ohh, that’s a great idea! Thanks for the tip and for stopping by! Can’t wait to try more recipes out of your book.

spiceaholic November 3, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Thanks, Sandi!

spiceaholic November 3, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I hope you made it — how did it turn out?

raquel November 3, 2011 at 10:16 pm

wow I love pistachio, and also love to taste this I love the icing and I know the taste looks really great.

Kathy Roberson August 13, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Is there a need to put the pistachios in the oven if they are already roasted?

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