Lately I’ve baked a lot of different variations of pistachio cakes. The kitchen was filled with a wonderful aroma of roasted pistachio (and also an endless amount of dishes). I baked and I baked, and then I baked a little bit more… until finally, I came upon the perfect recipe. I gave my mom a piece to taste and she gave me her most sincere opinion, that it was almost perfect. Thanks mom, but “almost” perfect isn’t good enough for a wedding cake.

I went back to the drawing board, back into the kitchen and baked the cake for the last time. I had a feeling that this time I got it just right. Sure enough, not only did it turn out delicious, it baked wonderfully too. I admit, the cake in the main picture is the not the final cake. That one is actually what my mom tasted. A picture of the final cake (and the better one in my opinion) you can see at the bottom of the page (as a single layer).

This recipe makes a 3-layer pistachio lemon cake. You have to divide the batter into 3 identical pans and bake them simultaneously. Another option is to divide the recipe by 3 and bake each layer separately. For your convenience (and mine), I did the calculation and added the recipe for just 1 layer of cake at the end of this post!

Cake powder

cake batter
Sawing the cake
Pistachio Cake with Mascarpone Frosting
Pistachio Lemon Cake with Mascarpone Frosting


180 g shelled pistachios
330 g flour
2¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 eggs
420 g sugar
105 g canola oil
Zest from one lemon
120 g heavy cream
120 g milk 

Lemon syrup
½ cup lemon juice
Zest from one lemon
¼ cup sugar

Mascarpone frosting
240g Mascarpone cream *
240 g heavy cream
60 g powdered sugar
60 g condensed milk

Filling & Decoration
60 g chopped pistachios 

3 round pans, 21 cm diameter (or 20 cm for a taller cake)
Paint brush

* I was sure I bought regular mascarpone cheese. But only after I used it I found out that it was actually mascarpone cream, which contains sugar, egg yolk and vanilla seeds (oooh!) in addition to the cream cheese. However, I did not complain. Combined with all the other ingredients, I got a heavenly frosting. If you do end up using regular mascarpone cheese, you should reduce the amount of the mascarpone in half (120g instead of 240g). Also, make sure that the texture is smooth, with no lumps, before adding the heavy cream.


Grease the pans lightly. Line the bottom of the baking pan with parchment paper.

Put shelled pistachios in a food processor and grind into a powder. Be careful not to over grind it, otherwise you’ll get pistachio paste (It’s totally fine if there’s a bit of small chunky pistachios left in the powder). Transfer the pistachio powder into a bowl. Sift the flour into the bowl, along with the baking powder and salt. Whisk well and keep aside.

Pour heavy cream and milk into a small pot and start warming on low heat. Make sure you do not bring it to a boil. You just need to warm it up a bit. Preheat the oven to 175 ° C (350 ° F).

Start whipping eggs and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is thick and pale. Add oil and lemon zest and whisk together. Add half of the powder mixture and fold together, gently, using a whisk. Pour the warm milk and heavy cream mixture and mix again. Add the rest of the powder mixture and fold with a whisk just until uniform.

Pour the batter equally into three baking pans. If possible, wrap a strip of a damp towel around the baking pan to get a more uniform bake. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Stick a toothpick in the center of the cake to check if it’s ready. The toothpick should come out almost dry. Remove the pan from the oven. Separate the cake from the sides of the pan using a serrated knife.  Allow the cake to cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes before releasing it from the pan.

Lemon syrup

Pour lemon juice into a small pot. Add sugar. Place on medium heat. Stir the sugar with a spatula to dissolve it. Once the water starts to boil, stop stirring and remove the spatula. Let the syrup simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon zest. Allow the syrup to cool for about 20 minutes and strain it before use.

Mascarpone frosting

Put mascarpone cream, condensed milk and powdered sugar in the mixer bowl and whip until uniform. Add heavy cream and continue to whip until the mixture is smooth and firm. (Scrape the sides of the bowl now and then)

Putting it all together!

Cut the top of each cake with a long serrated knife or a saw. To get a straight clean cut, keep turning the cake and cut first from the sides then slowly advance to the center of the cake. Flip over the cakes and remove the baking paper. Place one of the cakes on a serving plate.

Slightly brush the top of the cake with lemon syrup. Spread a third of the mascarpone frosting over the cake using a spatula. Sprinkle a third of the chopped pistachios over the frosting.

Repeat the process for the other layers: Place the second cake over the first one. Brush a bit of lemon syrup on top. Spread another layer of frosting and then add chopped pistachios on top. Place the third and final cake over the second one. Brush again a bit of lemon syrup on top. Spread another layer of frosting and sprinkle the rest of the chopped pistachios on top. Keep this pistachio lemon cake in the fridge in an airtight container for about three to four days.

Pistachio Lemon Cake with Mascarpone Frosting

If you’d like to bake just one layer of cake:

60 g shelled pistachios
110 g flour
¾ tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
2 eggs
140 g sugar
35 g canola oil
Zest from half a lemon
40 g heavy cream
40 g milk 

Lemon syrup
½ cup lemon juice
Zest from one lemon
¼ cup sugar

Mascarpone frosting
80 g mascarpone cream *
80 g heavy cream
20 g powdered sugar
20 g condensed milk

Filling & Decoration
20 g chopped pistachios 

Pistachio Lemon Cake

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