A Pistachio Olive Oil Cake that is light, nutty and sweet… Yet zingy with lime and stunningly ‘dressed’ with tart, vibrantly purple fruity blackcurrant drizzle. Gluten Free and Dairy Free.
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An insanely delicious Pistachio Olive Oil Cake
This Pistachio Olive Oil Cake is insanely delicious. It’s light and fluffy, rich with nuttiness and a sweetness that is balanced by tangy lime and blackcurrant. It’s also an easy recipe to make, yet beautiful to eat. The incredible purple hue from the blackcurrant drizzle penetrates deep into the sponge bringing joy with every slice.
Serve on its own as cake, or with custard or cream for a full-on dessert. Either way, my Pistachio Olive Oil Cake is a sweet treat that will bake you happy.
Inspiration for making Pistachio Olive Oil Cake with Lime and Blackcurrant Drizzle
Inspiration for my Pistachio Olive Oil Cake came from 2 sources. The first was back in 2017, when I teamed up with Jamie’s Italian to share their Olive Oil Buyers Guide. The second was Nigella Lawson’s Lemon Polenta Cake. Bear with me on this… If you compare the recipes, there is very little they have in common.
I have not used Lemons or polenta for a start and the butter is replaced with olive oil. While Nigella uses a base of ground almonds, my recipe swaps most of these for ground pistachios. In addition, this Pistachio Olive Oil Cake takes the zing from limes and blackcurrants to pair with the sweet softness of the sponge. In fact, I would go so far as saying this is a completely new cake recipe. But credit where credit is due (never let it be said that Gluten Free Alchemist doesn’t acknowledge its sources). Since the inspiration for Pistachio Olive Oil cake started here, it’s only fair to acknowledge the domestic goddess herself.
Let’s just call it my ‘adapted beyond all recognition’ version of Nigella Lawson’s Lemon Polenta Cake… that has nothing to do with lemons.
The Olive Oil in Pistachio Olive Oil Cake – What makes it special?
The first time I made an olive oil cake, I was a little sceptical. Thinking that adding olive oil may make the cake greasy, I tentatively poured it into the mix and kept fingers and toes crossed. The resulting cake was a revelation. Contrary to expectation, the sponge was super-light and because olive oil has such an amazing nutritional profile, it was also (almost) guilt free. So, what have I learned about the ‘green nectar’ and why should you bake with it more often?
- The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean, with archaeology indicating olive oil was produced as early as 4000 BC.
- Olive trees can live for up to 2,000 years… (I guess that means I’ll never see the one I planted a few years ago grow to be an ‘adult’)
- Almost 95% of olive oil comes from the Mediterranean region, with Spain (not Italy) being the largest producer.
- Each olive tree will give about 4 litres of oil annually. That really isn’t much. So, next time you think olive oil is ‘expensive’, consider it as amazing green ‘gold’.
- Olive oil is a juice.
- The term ‘virgin’ signifies that the oil was processed by only mechanical means, with no chemical treatment.
- ‘Extra Virgin’ olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives. If it has also been ‘cold pressed’, it hasn’t been heated above 27˚, so will have preserved all nutrients and vitamins.
- The variety of olive and tree maturity significantly influence the quality and taste of the oil produced.
- Olive oil can be used to make the BEST Pistachio Olive Oil Cake. 😄
Why olive oil is good for you…
For anyone worried that all fat is bad, think again! This beautiful oil has amazing health properties…
- Olive oil mainly contains monounsaturated fat – 73% (primarily oleic acid). The ‘bad’ saturated fat is just 14%.
- It’s also a good source of antioxidants, including oleocanthal (anti-inflammatory). And oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation.
- So, eating olive oil can support the lowering of bad (LDL) cholesterol in the blood while increasing the good (HDL) cholesterol.
- Apparently… A ‘spicier’ oil indicates good levels of oleocanthal. This is a polyphenol which may help to protect against some types of cancer and ageing. Indeed, some studies suggest that it helps push abnormal disease-responsible proteins out of the brain. This means that oleocanthal may have beneficial properties towards reducing the risk of Alzheimer disease and cognitive decline.
- The high levels of polyphenols in olive oil, combined with abundant antioxidants (especially vitamin E) might also help decrease the risk of some cancers.
- And if you are worried about heart disease, strokes or high blood pressure, olive oil’s richness in monounsaturated fatty acids may support your protection.
Oil tasting – just like wine, some are better than others
Sometimes I think olive oil is in my blood. Maybe it’s an Italian heritage, but I love it. But how many of us would be able to recognise a superior oil? Or can explain the difference between pure, extra virgin or light? And perhaps more importantly, which oil should be used for what in the kitchen?
Just like wine, olive oil varies in depth of colour and through a huge array of flavour notes. This is dependent on where it has been grown and how it has been produced. For anyone who has undertaken an oil tasting (usually on holiday), these differences will have been experienced. And once you have tasted really good oil, there is no taking away that leap of understanding or the awareness of something which is substandard.
The last time I enjoyed a tasting session was in Greece some years ago. Perhaps surprisingly, Greece is understood to have the highest consumption per person of olive oil in the world (extra ‘fun fact’!). And their oil is good! Whenever there, I bring back litres of the stuff. I would bring back more, but the excess baggage would be too costly.
Jamie’s Italian Olive Oil Infographic
If you have never experienced the joy of an olive oil tasting however, this beautifully crafted olive oil infographic from Jamie’s Italian is a good place to start… Helping you think about the olive oil in the cupboard with new eyes and taste buds, and how best to use it.
Okay… It may not offer the warmth of the mountains of Greece or the winding roads of Italy, but it does offer a guide to the tasting process and how to best appreciate the qualities of each oil. And… It will help you think about which oil is best suited to cooking and to eating ‘straight’.
Top Tip: Don’t always reach for the same bottle in the supermarket… Try oils from different countries and producers to taste the difference and to really appreciate the amazingness that is olive oil.
But… Back to Pistachio Olive Oil Cake with Lime and Blackcurrant Drizzle
My Pistachio Olive Oil Cake is a wonderful celebration of this incredible, natural product. But it goes well beyond a celebration of the oil. With its deep, rich base of green pistachios, zingy citrus and a generous soaking of vibrant purple blackcurrant drizzle, it screams ‘late summer’. This cake is more than temptingly delicious.
Okay… It’s not late summer and I’m out of season. But I was determined to use blackcurrants for their tartness and beauty. And having found a pouch of freeze-dried blackcurrant powder in the cupboard, nothing was going to stop me. Combined with a handful of frozen blackcurrants (snaffled from a frozen supermarket smoothie fruit mix), they were the perfect choice to pair with the rich, earthy sweetness of the nut flour and a great partner to the sharp lime. A perfect addition to pistachio olive oil cake.
Is this Pistachio Olive Oil Cake Recipe ‘free from’?
Even better… Because the recipe uses olive oil in place of butter, it is naturally dairy free as well as gluten free. In fact, if you use Nigella’s original polenta in place of the sub of gluten free flour, the cake is also naturally gluten free too! I’ve added the polenta option in the recipe card for anyone who wants to try it.
In terms of flour, I used Gluten Free Alchemist Blend A (a whiter cake blend). However, the amount used is fairly insignificant, so most flour blends should be fine (although try to use one which does not contain xanthan gum. It’s has no benefit to the recipe and may make it more dense).
Sadly, this cake uses eggs however, so is not suitable for Vegans.
Does Pistachio Olive Oil Cake have to be made as a traybake?
Being a drizzle cake, this Pistachio Olive Oil Cake needs to be a single layer. This ensures the best chance of soaking up the drizzle for flavour. And of course, to be totally stunning. The shape of that layer however, is up to you. A single large round cake would make a perfect dinner-party dessert… Especially sprinkled with some extra bright green Iranian slivered pistachios. But tray-bakes always seem to produce more slices and the further you can share the cake love, the better!
I’ve never tried making it as a loaf cake, so I have no idea how successful that would be. But it should work on a longer (possibly slower) bake. If you try it, let me know.
Made Pistachio Olive Oil Cake with lime and Blackcurrant Drizzle?
Whatever shape tin you choose, do let me know if you make my Pistachio Olive Oil Cake with lime and blackcurrant drizzle. I’d love to know what you think… Leave a comment, rate the recipe and tag me on social media with a photo of your delicious bake. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter…
Happy baking and thanks for visiting Gluten Free Alchemist
Other Pistachio Bakes you might like…
Pistachio Olive Oil Cake with Lime and Blackcurrant Drizzle (gluten free/dairy free)
- citrus juicer
- oven + hob
- Small saucepan
- large sharp knife
- cake skewer
- 150 g ground raw pistachios grind in a blender on pulse
- 50 g ground almonds
- 100 g plain flour blend (with no xanthan gum) I use Gluten Free Alchemist Blend A – See Notes – OR sub with fine ground polenta
- 1½ tsp baking powder gluten free as required
- 160 ml good quality olive oil
- 200 g golden caster sugar
- 3 large eggs UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- 2 limes – zest finely grated
- 1 lime – juice
- 2 limes – juice (use juice from the 2 zested limes used for sponge)
- 10 g freeze dried blackcurrant powder see NOTES
- 50 g icing sugar
Sugar-icing and decoration
- 1 lime – juice
- 70 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp freeze-dried blackcurrant powder see NOTES
- handful frozen or fresh blackcurrants
- ¾ tbsp pistachios chopped/I used Iranian slivered pistachios – to decorate
- Baseline a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) square, loose-bottomed cake tin with baking paper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Weigh and mix together the ground pistachios, almonds, flour (or polenta) and baking powder, making sure the ingredients are well-blended. (TIP: weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat together the olive oil and sugar until pale and thickened (about 5 minutes).
- In a separate small bowl, lightly beat the eggs together with a fork.
- Alternately add a little of the egg followed by a little of the flour mix and beat between each addition. Continue to add until all the ingredients are combined.
- Finally, beat in the lime juice and zest.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and spread to the edges, ensuring the top is even.
- Bake for about 40 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and set aside, leaving the cake in the tin.
Prepare the drizzle syrup
- Mix together the lime juice, blackcurrant powder and icing sugar in a small saucepan.
- Place over a low heat, stirring until the ingredients are fully combined, the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has just reached simmer point.
- Remove from the heat.
Drizzle the sponge with blackcurrant syrup
- Run a knife around the edge of the sponge in the tin to loosen.
- Use a skewer to pierce lots of holes deep into the cake.
- Whilst the cake is still warm, take the still-hot syrup and slowly drizzle and spread across the surface, allowing it to penetrate into the holes made in the sponge.
- Set aside to cool.
Remove the cake from the tin and cut into portions
- When the syrup has become less 'tacky', carefully remove from the tin. (TIP: Turn upside-down using a board with baking paper between cake and board. Then turn back upright (using a second board), cautiously removed the baking paper from the top of the cake as quickly as possible, to avoid too much sticking).
- Use a long, sharp knife to cut the cake into about 16 squares, before pushing back together into the square cake shape to close any gaps.
Sugar-icing and decoration
- Mix the blackcurrant powder with the lime juice and about half of the sugar in a small saucepan.
- Set over a low heat and stir to blend thoroughly and dissolve the sugar.
- Remove from the heat and add the remaining sugar and fresh/frozen whole blackcurrants.
- Stir through.
- Pour and spread over the sponge surface and leave to cool completely.
- Sprinkle with chopped pistachios to serve.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist
This post was supported (2017) by Jamie’s Italian. The recipe however, and all text and opinions are my own.