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Kay’s Famous Pistachio Cake 05.07.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in BnB.
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Mmmm, pistachio buttercream lattice and caramel brittle!We here at BnB firmly believe in the power taste has over memory, especially sweets.  Surely you have a specific food that makes you remember a certain moment in time or feeling.

For Bread and Buttress, Grandma’s pistachio cake makes us remember childhood picnics on her backyard deck under a fringed yellow umbrella.  Swing music would be playing on ancient speakers fastened to the brick exterior of the house by Grandpa.  Every time this cake is made, we take a little trip down memory lane.

When we learned that Passages NW was holding its annual Courage benefit, duty called.  We wanted the Pistachio Cake to take part in their frantic dessert auction.  Passages is a Seattle organization that empowers young girls and build community through carefully tailored outdoor programs.  It’s an organization our Grandmother would have appreciated.

Now, Grandma was no slouch but, growing up through the depression, she was thrifty.  Her original recipe for the pistachio cake displayed as much.  For example, boxed vanilla cake mix saved her some time.  Walnuts, similar in texture to pistachios were substituted in the batter. Jello pudding mix lent pistachio flavor to the cake.

Well, as you’ll see, some changes were made.  We’re making a scratch cake here folks, with a few additional embellishments.  However, we could never think of substituting the Jello.  (Ok, if you’re not into the animal gelatin, try pistachio paste).  Grandma always used a plain and super sugary American style buttercream frosting.  We decided to try a pistachio buttercream frosting in the Swiss tradition.  But fear not, the sweetness of the sugar can still be found in the pistachio brittle that tops the cake.  Find the cake recipe here, and buttercream here.  Finally, Grandma’s original recipe.

The finished cake at the Passages NW auction

The finished cake at the Passages NW auction