Today I have a recipe from Yossy Arefi’s new seasonal baking book “Sweeter Off the Vine” for you: a tender pistachio pound cake topped with lavender sugar macerated strawberries. The book is a celebration of baking with ripe, seasonal fruit from rhubarb to plums, and it’s full of flavor combinations that leave you rushing to the kitchen/kicking yourself for not thinking of them.
I had the pleasure of meeting Yossy on a trip up to NYC a couple of years ago over dinner, but before that, we’d known each other through the good old food blogging community. She gave me tips for shooting film when I was just starting out, and I was a huge fan of her blog, Apt. 2B Baking Co., recipes and photos both. They have an easy-going quality to them. They’re simple and rustic but never precious and never contrived. Just like her book.
When she sent me her cookbook in all it’s finished glory, I couldn’t be more excited about it and for her. It’s full of the sort of combinations I love, little unexpected twists like pistachio in poundcake or pink peppercorns in raspberries that lend a je ne sais quoi to her recipes. Her creativity isn’t for the sake of creativity—the flavors truly work & harmonize. She’s a fabulous photographer and blogger, but I love her most of all because she’s a baker through and through.
Her recipes don’t stop at being beautiful, and her flavor combination isn’t merely poetic sounding: they’re delicious. Simply amazing. This pistachio pound cake is one such recipe. And it’s deceptively simple. I’ve made hundreds of pound cakes. But this one is the best. Truly. It didn’t last more than 24 hours in our house. I can’t wait to make it at retreats and for guests in our home.
Best of all the recipes in her book are arranged by the fruits of each season so it’s a simple matter to find multiple ideas for whatever happens to be turning up at your market. I’m desperate to try the campari + strawberry popsicles too…pure genius. You can grab a copy of her book here. I highly recommend it. While there are a lot of books out there, few are reliable. I haven’t made a bad dish out of this one. And I don’t find myself subtly tweaking things. Which is highly out of character. These are perfect right off the page. Also, check out the gorgeous video trailer they made for the book below. If this recipe and my shameless gushing don’t make you want it, the video will. And keep on scrolling for the recipe at the bottom of the post. Make this cake before strawberries are gone for the year!
pistachio pound cake + strawberries in lavender sugar
This recipe is from Yossy Arefi's cookbook "Sweeter Off the Vine". Make sure you put your dairy out a bit before you intend to bake so everything is room temp and ready to go! Best poundcake I think I've ever made.
for pistachio cake
1 cup (130g) shelled pistachios
1 1/2 cups (195g) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (175g) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup (120mL) whole milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 pounds (675g) strawberries
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar, or less if your berries are particularly sweet
1/2 teaspoon organic lavender buds
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped from the pod
lightly sweetened whipped cream
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 325ºF (165ºC). Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
To make the cake: Grind the pistachios in a food processor just until they resemble flour. Be careful to not grind them into pistachio butter, though that would be delicious. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until combined.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth; then, with the mixer still running, slowly stream in the sugar. Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Occasionally stop the mixer, and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts.?
With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk to the batter in 3 additions, mixing until just combined. Finish mixing the batter by hand with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then remove the cake to a rack to cool completely. To make the strawberries: Combine the sugar, lavender, and vanilla seeds in a mortar, and grind with a pestle until the lavender? is broken up into fine bits and the sugar is fragrant. Alternately, this can be done in a food processor. Hull and slice the strawberries in half if they are small, in quarters if they are larger; combine the sliced strawberries and sugar in a bowl and stir gently. Let the berries macerate for at least 15 minutes at room temperature before serving.
To serve: Slice the cooled cake into thick pieces, and top each slice with a generous spoonful of berries and their juices. Top with whipped cream. Extra cake keeps in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days.
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