The Plain-Cake Appreciation Society {edition 53}, Pistachio & Rhubarb Cake. 

Life has been busy of late. Not in a bad way – just in a way that has made it rather hard to gather my thoughts. I’m trying not to get too hung up on it, and rather think of it as a season that will pass – a season of brain-fog that will surely be followed by a season of startling mental clarity. One can hope, right?

Anyway, I’m the absence of coherent thoughts and sentences, I give you thoroughly tested cake recipes, because it appears that is the one thing I can concentrate on. This week’s bake is a suitably pink number – which would be rather good for Mother’s Day, I should think. Or just for yourself, if like me, pink icing makes you cheery. x 

Pistachio Cake with Rhubarb Buttercream

(serves 8-10)

This cake combines quite a few of my favourite things – pistachios, rhubarb, and a hint of rose – and is also in my favourite colour-way, green and pink. Because who doesn’t feel cheerful in the face of pink icing?


Rhubarb Buttercream:
225g rhubarb, cut into 2cm pieces
3 tbsp caster sugar
Juice ½ lemon
150g unsalted butter, softened
320g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
½ tsp rosewater

Pistachio Cake:
250g unsalted butter, softened
300g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
4 large eggs
225g self-raising flour
100g ground pistachios
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
200ml milk, at room temperature
1 tsp rosewater


Preheat oven to 160°C (fan-forced). First bake the rhubarb for the buttercream by placing chopped rhubarb, caster sugar, and lemon juice in a medium baking tray. Toss to combine, cover with foil and place in the oven to cook for 15-20 minutes or until soft and syrupy. Set aside to cool whilst you make the cakes.

For the cakes, grease 2 x 20cm round springform tins well with butter and line bases with baking paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until very light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well in between.

Place self-raising flour, ground pistachios, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and whisk together. Add half to the creamed butter mixture, stirring gently, before adding the milk and rosewater. Once incorporated, follow with the remaining dry ingredients, stirring gently until combined.

Divide batter evenly between prepared tins, smoothing the top and tapping the tin on the bench a few times to eliminate any air bubbles. Place in preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before releasing from tins and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make rhubarb buttercream, place butter, icing sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth. Drain cooled rhubarb, reserving syrup. Place ¼ cup drained fruit into the icing and beat again until smooth. Add a little of the reserved rhubarb syrup to the buttercream and continue to mix, adding enough syrup to make the buttercream smooth and spreadable.

Place one of the cooled pistachio cakes on a serving plate, smooth or pipe over rhubarb buttercream and dot with remaining rhubarb pieces. Top with second pistachio cake, pressing gently to sandwich. Dust liberally with icing sugar and serve.

Whilst best eaten on the day it is made, this cake keeps happily in an airtight container in the fridge for a day or two – just return to room temperature before serving.