I'm so glad pistachio cake is now a THING. It should've always been a thing. Maybe it was at the cusp of being a thing, always around but over-shadowed by beastly rainbow cakes and nonsense red velvet. But it's definitely a thing-thing now.
Pistachio pairings are elite flavour combinations. Last week I shared a recipe of pistachio and mango loaf cake which tasted like holiday. This week I'm sharing a recipe that's the best combination I've had to date - Orange and Pistachio.
Inspired by Dish by Rish's orange and pistachio loaf, I adapted our Hero Sponge Recipe - a scaled-down version with added orange and pistachios. This time I wanted a piped and dressier aesthetic, so needed to have a stable buttercream like our famed Swiss meringue buttercream, but I wanted a TANGTASTIC flavour, so played around with cream cheese. Yep, cream cheese SMBC woohoo!
And predictably, I HAD to dabble in pistachio creme. Swirled into the top of the loaf pre-baking AND slathered on top post baking.
The buttery nuttiness of pistachio, with sweet and sharp orange, tangy cream cheese SMBC - it's the best loaf cake I've ever had to date.
This recipe is spenny (pistachios and pistachio creme are £££). But it's a doddle. Hero sponge is a one bowl recipe, all ingredients measured in grams. If you DID want to create a showstopping celebration cake version of it, you can follow our Hero Sponge recipe for the pistachio variant, add in orange juice and zest, and decorate with Swiss meringue buttercream. This loaf cake is easy enough for even the most hopeless of bakers who can fool everyone into thinking they're star bakers.
Orange and Pistachio Loaf Cake Recipe
Orange and Pistachio Loaf Cake Recipe
Ingredients for Orange and Pistachio Loaf Cake Recipe
2 eggs, medium
50g oil, any neutral oil like vegetable or sunflower
80g low or non-fat yoghurt
65g milk, whole or semi-skimmed
10g vanilla extract (approx. 2 teaspoon)
200g granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
230g plain flour
10g baking powder (approx. 2 teaspoon)
1 orange, juice and zest
50g pistachios, chopped
1 tbsp pistachio creme
Easy Method For Orange and Pistachio Loaf Cake Recipe
1) Preheat oven 160 degrees Celsius.
2) Mix all the wet ingredients together in a mixing bowl. This would be the eggs, oil, yoghurt, milk and vanilla extract.
3) Add in the sugar and salt and mix to combine well.
4) Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix until lumps are just gone - be careful to not over mix. It's okay to have a few tiny lumps remaining.
4) Pour the orange juice and zest into the batter with the pistachios and fold in.
5) Line a loaf tin with a loaf tin liner or strips of baking parchment paper. Pour in the batter.
6) Swirl a tablespoon of pistachio creme into the top of the batter.
7) Bake for 40 minutes, checking for doneness by inserting a cocktail stick or paring knife in the middle of the sponge - it's ready when it comes out just clean with no wet smears. If there is any stickiness on the skewer, bake at increments of 2-3 more minutes. You can cover the loaf with tinfoil at the 30 mins mark if you want to reduce browning.
8) Leave it to cool in the tin at room temperature for 15 minutes before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe
Our Swiss meringue buttercream aka SMBC is legendary. It's perhaps a more intimidating buttercream recipe than the usual butter-icing-sugar-bish-bash-bosh. But it is FAR more superior in taste and texture, and contains half the sugar. It's 100% worth the tiny bit of extra faff. And hundreds of bakers, novice and professionals alike, use our recipe and the feedback consistently has been that it's FAR easier than it looks.
Now, cream cheese frosting is the only other type of frosting I have time for. I love the tanginess, the creaminess. It's what I base my cake choice on in cake and coffee shops as they don't tend to have Swiss meringue buttercream and I grin and bear the sweetness. But cream cheese Swiss meringue buttercream?! This stuff is NEXT LEVEL amazing. A lot of people who have attempted mixing cream cheese into SMBC have had a tough time with splitting. The key is to whip the cream cheese separately before adding the SMBC to it bit by bit. So follow this recipe, and you'll be fine.
Ingredients for the Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream
65g egg whites (approx. 2 egg whites)
125g butter, cubed and room temp
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
125g cream cheese
Method For Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe
1) Place egg whites and caster sugar in a squeaky clean stand mixer bowl (or any large mixing bowl if you do not have a stand mixer) over a simmering saucepan of water on medium heat. This is called a bain marie or a double boiler. There are two important points to note here - The bowl MUST BE SUPER CLEAN with no traces of grease and make sure the water in the saucepan does not touch the bottom of the bowl containing the egg whites and sugar. Whisk with a hand whisk until all sugar is dissolved, the mixture is frothy and has reached 60-degrees C or is hot to touch.
2) Place the stand mixer bowl into the stand mixer and whisk on high speed with the whisk attachment until the mixture has thickened, doubled in volume and the bowl is cool to touch. If using a hand-mixer, mix on medium until the mixture starts thickening and then switch to high (to avoid splatters). This is now the Swiss meringue base.
3) Add in vanilla, salt and soft cubes of butter on low speed till all combined.
The mixture will look curdled and splitty and scare you. This is known as the chunder stage.
Don't worry or panic. Keep whipping on high until it all comes together as a smooth and silky buttercream (takes about 5-8 minutes to reach this stage, and a bit longer by hand-mixer).
4) In a separate bowl, whip the cream cheese till it's increased in volume and fluffier.
5) Add in the Swiss meringue buttercream bit by bit, in three parts, whisking in between till combined.
Decorating The Orange and Pistachio Loaf Cake
Go as basic, rustic, or fancy as you want! Have fun!
Ingredients for Decorating the Orange and Pistachio Loaf Cake
100g pistachio creme
20g pistachios, chopped
Method For Decorating the Orange and Pistachio Loaf Cake
1) Spread the pistachio creme over the top of the loaf.
2) Prepare a piping bag with a medium piping nozzle of your choice. Fill the bag with cream cheese Swiss meringue buttercream and pipe swirls over the loaf.
3) Sprinkle crushed pistachios over the top.
Variations of Orange and Pistachio Loaf Cake
You can make this cake as gluten-free so easily. The orange juice tenderises the crumb and makes the sponge super moist. Simply swap the flour for gluten free flour and add a bit of Xanthan gum. We have a great Gluten-Free Hero Sponge recipe here that includes flavour variations.
This loaf cake can also be made vegan, dairy-free and egg-free by swapping the dairy products with plant-based substitutes and the egg can be replaced with egg replacer powder. We have a Vegan Hero Sponge recipe here that includes flavour variations too. For the frosting you could swap the egg white for aquafaba (chickpea fart water), and the cream cheese for plant-based cream cheese.
You could omit the pistachios...and it would be a beautiful orange loaf cake with cream cheese Swiss meringue buttercream.
This loaf didn't last long round ours. It won't around yours either.