Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (2024)

I, obsessively, love all things pistachio and pomegranate, both which I grew up eating with carefree abundance. But after I moved to the east coast, they became rare indulgences. In recent years we have started seeing more of both in supermarkets (thank you cali!)… but tbh, although I am still sad I can’t get them as often as say, peanuts and oranges.

So I feel like, if you are going to use them in a dessert – they should central. The problem is, pistachio is a rather delicate flavor. Chocolate overwhelms, vanilla can completely mask it and other flavor additions get in the way. Most of the time when I’ve had it at restaurants or bakeries, pistachio cake just doesn’t taste like pistachio. Possibly because other stronger ingredients are added (rose water anyone?) or because the actual nut wasn’t used. (Side note: don’t get me started on those fake-green muffins sold everywhere that claim to be pistachio but are actually green jello.)

Recipe Origins

So when I saw Ed Kimber’s gorgeously green cake, I was intrigued (to put it mildly). I made it with some green pistachios I had on hand and it was WONDERFUL. Then again with some regular pistachios I’d shelled myself and while not as green, it was delicious.

I’ve made it countless times since and have adapted it to be smaller (to fit my “small batch” pistachio budget lol), to use lemon which I think complements the cake better and with a teeny bit more flour to help it hold form. And I gave it a berry glaze (pomegranate when they are in season, raspberries the rest of the year!).

But still, most joyfully, more pistachio than flour. She invites one guest, lemon, which serves only to subtly and sweetly complement. You will not mistake this cake for anything else but pistachio. And it’s glorious.

Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (1)

Recipe Ingredients

Pistachio flour or pistachios: IF you have easy access to ‘pistachio flour’ which is basically finely ground nuts, use that. If not, grind your own: if the nuts are raw, toast them in the oven for about 7 minutes at 350 F spread on a baking sheet. Once toasted, grind them with the flour in a food processor until very fine.

Butter: unsalted, this is important! Some pistachios are already salted so if we use salted butter and add the added salt it can ruin the cake.

Flour: all purpose flour. If you wanted to make this gluten free you can use a 1 to 1 flour swap.

Lemon: one lemon, rub off the wax if yours aren’t organic before you zest. If you don’t have raspberries or pom and want to make a more basic glaze you can use the juice from this lemon instead.

Vanilla & salt: pure vanilla extract and fine sea salt.

Eggs: two whole eggs at room temperature. Place them in a bowl of hot water to warm them up.

Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (2)

How to make a small batch of pistachio cake

Preheat the oven and choose your pan: either a standard sized loaf pan (8 inches long) or a square pan, 8×8 inches. With either we’ll be able to slice it in half and add a glaze in the center as well as on top (the loaf sliced horizontally). Grease and flour the pan and set in a parchment paper to act as a sling.

If you are using pistachio flour, move ahead to the next step. If using raw nuts, toast them for 5-7 minutes until fragrant then wait for them to cool. Once they are cool (or if you are using toasted nuts) set them in a food processor with the flour and grind until fine.

In a bowl add the butter, sugar, lemon zest, salt and vanilla.

Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (3)

Beat until very airy and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (4)

Add in the eggs and beat for another 2-3 minutes.

Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (5)

Add in the flour, pistachios and baking powder and mix to just combine.

Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (6)

Spread into the prepared pan (here I’m using the 8×8 square):

Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (7)

Bake until a cake tester comes out clean. This will vary based on your chosen pan, for a loaf cake it’ll take a bit longer.

Let cool completely before slicing and glazing.

Serving and storing the cake

Once glazed I’d serve within the day as while the cake will keep for a few days the glaze will break and get messy. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (8)

Small Batch Pistachio Cake Recipe

Pistachio Cake

Super nutty, pistachio forward cake topped with a naturally pink glaze.



  • 100 g or ½ cup fine granulated sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 113 g or ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature (8 TB)
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 50 grams or ⅓ cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 100 g or 1 cup pistachio flour or unsalted pistachios ground fine with a food processor


  • 130g or 1 cup organic powdered sugar made with tapioca starch sifted
  • ½ cup of pomegranate arils or thawed frozen raspberries plus more for garnish
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • pistachios, pomegranates or dried rose petals for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a loaf pan or an 8x8 inch square pan with butter and flour. Alternatively use a baking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper.

  • If you are grinding the pistachios yourself, add the flour with them to process (this way they won't clump).

  • Add the sugar, butter, lemon zest, vanilla and salt to a bowl and beat using a hand mixer until very light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.

  • Add eggs one at a time, while mixer is running, and beat until combined.

  • Add the ground pistachios, flour and baking powder to the wet mix and fold with a spatula until combined. .

  • Spread into the prepared pan. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean; if using a loaf pan it will take 30-35 minutes, if using the square pan it should take around 20-25. The cake will rise slightly, in a flat, even layer.

  • Once the cake is cool, slice it in half (straight down the middle if you made it in a square pan, horizontally if you made it in a loaf pan). Trim the edges if you like.

  • To make the glaze: pressing pomegranate arils or the thawed raspberries through a sieve to release the berries juice. Add the powdered sugar and the salt and mix to combine.

  • Have the first cake layer face up and spread some glaze over it in an even layer. Set the second half face side down and glaze. Sprinkle on the garnish.


Notes: previous versions of this recipe gave a range of 35-70g of all purpose flour. It is now updated with an in between amount that best serves the cake.

The cake needn't be sliced and glazed twice (you'll note in some photos it isn't) but it does make it a bit more fun!

Did you make this recipe?

Share & tag me on instagram @buttermilkbysam


  • CheesecakesPistachio Cheesecake
  • Snacking Cakes (Single Layer)Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Brown Butter Buttercream
  • Quick BreadsHazelnut Banana Bread


Rate + Review

What do you think of this recipe?

5 from 14 votes (7 ratings without comment)

  1. Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (13)
    Absolutely favourite cake!!! Healthy (I use Spelt flour and reduce amounts of both sugar and butter) beautiful and delicious!!!

  2. hi I like this recipe very much I want to make it sometime but the thing is the place where I live has only salted pistachios available so can you tell me if I can use salted ones looks like u used unsalted ones


    • that’s fine – just omit the added salt to the recipe so the cake won’t be overly salty


  3. Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (14)
    This cake was delightful. My friend and I decided to make it on a whim after hearing it was national cake day and were very pleasantly surprised by how good it was. It is lemony and nutty and the pomegranate icing is a delicious addition.


  4. Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (15)
    So flavorful. I used 70g of flour. The loaf turned out moist and delicious. For the glaze, I used only powdered sugar and pomegranate juice and left out the lemon juice. I will definitely be making it again! Thanks!


  5. Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (16)
    Fantastic loaf!! I only wish the color was a bit more green. I might try adding some green food coloring just for fun next time. The pink glaze is so pretty and fun as well but the loaf is so good on its own too!!


  6. Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (17)
    Damned fine cake, thanks.


  7. I made this with the higher flour measurement (70g or something) but found the colour too pale and lemon zest really overpowered the pistachio. I’m going to try with almond flour instead of ground pistachio, add cardamom and use chopped pistachios. Maybe tiny bit of blanched spinach for colour?


  8. Hi! Is the oven tenperature in Celcius or Fahrenheit?


    • fahrenheit


  9. Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (18)
    This was amazing! I tried the batter and realized even without the glaze it would have been wonderful. I doubled the amount of glaze and for a thicker frosting layer and it was wonderful. Thanks for sharing!


  10. Looks amazing can’t wait to try it. I was wondering what you think about if I use pistachio paste? Like if so how much I should put in?


  11. can I substitute passion fruit for pomegranate


  12. Is there an ingredient missing in the glaze? 1/2 tablespoon of pomm juice and a couple drops of lemon juice are enough to make a drizzle out of 1/2 cup powder sugar? Would love clarification definitely want to make this!


  13. Can I use regular granulated sugar or does it need to be caster ?


    • granulated is fine


  14. I tried to make this cake and it sunk in the middle. What did I do wrong?


    • Sorry it sank mary, I hope it still tasted good! A number of things could have made it so: using a small pan (if you see in the photos mine sunk as it was in a 6″), overbeating the batter, cooking too long or not enough, not using a water bath, and cooling too quickly (why I use prop open the oven as it cools). Cheesecakes are finicky tbh, so don’t feel too bad about it.


  15. Unsalted butter one stick how many grams what is TB


    • 1stick butter ==== 1/2 cup butter, 113.4 gram , 4 oz. 0.25 lbs


  16. Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (19)
    I can’t thank you enough for this wonderful recipe. The cake was delightful. I used 70g of flour and opted against the glaze and it was still great. I do wonder if I can do the same with almonds. Any thoughts?


    • I think it could work with almonds although I haven’t tried it myself. So glad you enjoyed it Khilna!


  17. Hi what do you recommend 35grams or 70 grams flour in the cake ?


  18. Maybe 35g of AP and 35g of cake flour? I think I’m gonna try it!


  19. Love the recipe. Pls egg substitute.


  20. It looks amazing, just discovered this on pinterest! I think though you are missing a step in the glaze: when/how is the powder sugar added? Thanks for the recipe.


Small Batch Pistachio Cake | Buttermilk by Sam (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Margart Wisoky

Last Updated:

Views: 6133

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (78 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Margart Wisoky

Birthday: 1993-05-13

Address: 2113 Abernathy Knoll, New Tamerafurt, CT 66893-2169

Phone: +25815234346805

Job: Central Developer

Hobby: Machining, Pottery, Rafting, Cosplaying, Jogging, Taekwondo, Scouting

Introduction: My name is Margart Wisoky, I am a gorgeous, shiny, successful, beautiful, adventurous, excited, pleasant person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.