Pistachio Layer Cake

This light and fluffy pistachio layer cake is flecked with ground pistachios and flavored with just the right amount of almond extract. It’s absolutely divine!

It’s September 12th and I have yet to share a pumpkin recipe. I’m patting myself on the back as I type this. In the food blog world (and IRL) that’s almost unheard of. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty lined up to share with you, but today is all about this lovely pistachio cake.

I made this cake over two years ago for a Christmas party and I’ve been meaning to re-make it and photograph it for well, two years now! I recently made it again for my kids and husband and fell in love with it all over again!

It’s definitely not a quick bake (more of those heading your way soon), so hang on tight while we dive in to the ingredients and method.

A bowl of shelled pistachios for the light and fluffy pistachio layer cake. | lifemadesimplebakes.com

First things first. You’ll need 1 1/2 cups shelled unsalted pistachios. You’ll pulse all but 1/4 cup in a food processor until finely ground. Do not over do it or you’ll end up with pistachio paste. Delicious, but not what we’re going for!

You’ll add them to the dry ingredients and carefully mix them into the wet ingredients. Then you’ll fold in the whipped egg whites by hand so that they don’t get deflated. Use a very gentle hand.

Ground pistachios give this pistachio layer cake it's flavor and color. | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Once the batter is ready, divide it between three 9-inch cake pans. I sprayed mine with non-stick baking spray and added a parchment paper round to the bottom (I highly recommend doing this) to prevent sticking. Butter and flour works too, just don’t forget the parchment!

Divide the batter between the three pans. I always use a kitchen scale to ensure they are actually even in weight, however using a half cup measuring cup or an extra large cookie scoop can help as well.

Taking a slice out of the pistachio layer cake with mascarpone frosting. | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Bake the cakes until the tops spring back, then let them cool in their pans for 15 minutes, then remove them and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling you’ll want to make the frosting. I originally made a vanilla bean honey cream cheese frosting but it wasn’t quite right. It also fairly involved/time consuming. So I scratched that and went for something a little more fitting: mascarpone frosting. It’s a match made in heaven!!

Simple. Easy. Delicious.

It’s made just like a traditional cream cheese frosting where you add it at the very end. Just be EXTRA careful not to overmix or you’ll curdle the frosting. I find mixing it for 10 seconds with the stand mixer, then folding the rest in by hand is best.

The layers inside the pistachio layer cake. | lifemadesimplebakes.com

When the cakes are cooled assemble into a three layer cake. Use the reserved pistachios as a garnish on top, then sprinkle with a few flecks of sea salt.

One bite of this pistachio layer cake is all you need. It truly is love a first bite! Buttery, nutty, and topped with a sweet and slightly tangy frosting. What’s not to love??

Have you baked with pistachios before? What’s you favorite pistachio dessert? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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A slice of pistachio layer cake on a plate with a fork. | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Pistachio Layer Cake

Yield: 9-inch 3 layer cake
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

This light and fluffy pistachio layer cake is flecked with ground pistachios and flavored with just the right amount of almond. It's absolutely divine!


For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 c. unsalted shelled pistachios, divided
  • 2 1/2 c. cake flour
  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. coarse kosher sea salt
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 3 egg whites + 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar)

For the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse kosher sea salt
  • 6 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. mascarpone


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or butter and flour three 9-inch round baking pans. Line bottoms with a parchment round, set aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse 1 1/4 cups pistachios until a finely ground powder forms.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the ground pistachios, flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on high until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat for 2 minutes on high. Add vanilla, almond and egg, mix until combined.
  5. With mixing speed on low, alternate adding dry ingredients and the milk and cream. Mix until a few dry streaks remain.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat 3 egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold into the batter until incorporated.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top springs back when touched.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Meanwhile, to make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on high until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, salt and powdered sugar, mix until combined. Add mascarpone and mix on low for 10 seconds, then fold by hand until a smooth, creamy frosting forms.
  10. To assemble the cake, 1/4 of the frosting between the first layer, a 1/4 of the frosting between the second layer, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and down the sides of the cake. Chop the reserved 1/4 of pistachios and sprinkle on the top edges. Add a pinch or two of large sea salt flakes before serving.


- I would recommend keeping this cake refrigerated.

Source: adapted from Baked Explorations.

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