Let me just say that I am not a baker by any stretch of the imagination. I love to look at baking books with drooling lips and eyes wide open in wonder! The cakes call to me, to be eaten! I never dare to make them since they all look like they need so much expertise and so much talent. When I got David Lebovitz’s new book, a review copy, I thought I would have a same reaction – great book, not something I can do. But then, I started reading slowly and then with much interest. His recipes are really easy to follow, even for someone like me who does not bake at all. His flavor combinations are delightful. i was so impressed that I took the book into the kitchen the same day and made this gorgeous cake. It lasted all of ten minutes after it was ready – it was really good and I will definitely be making it again along with other dishes from the book!

Pistachio Cardamom Cake:

Adapted from

Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes (April 2010, Ten Speed) by David Lebovitz

Makes one 9-inch (23-cm) cake; 10 to 12 servings

At one time, everything I knew about Indian cooking could fit on one bindi dot. It wasn’t until Niloufer Ichaporia King came to work with us at Chez Panisse, where each year she guided us through the preparation of a traditional Parsi New Year’s feast, that I tasted authentic and wonderfully aromatic Indian food. My favorite dish was a cake enrobed in a sheet of gold leaf, a stunning touch that lent the dessert the splendor worthy of a Bollywood musical.

This is my version of that cake, but I left out the gold, since it’s not something you’re likely to have on hand. I did, however, brighten up the batter with vibrant green pistachios, which should be more easily found in grocery stores than sheets of gold leaf.


2 tablespoons (1 ounce/30 g) unsalted or salted butter

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 cup (60 g) sliced almonds, preferably unblanched


3/4 cup (95 g) shelled unsalted pistachios

1/4 cup (35 g) plus 3/4 cup (110 g) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

1/2 cup (4 ounces/115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (200 g) sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

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Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

To make the topping, melt the 2 tablespoons (1 ounce/30 g) butter in a 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pan set directly on the stovetop over low heat. Once melted, remove from the heat and let cool briefly. Sprinkle the 1 teaspoon sugar evenly over the melted butter, then add the almonds, tilting and shaking the pan to distribute them evenly. Set the pan aside.

To make the cake, in a blender or a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulverize the pistachios with the 1/4 cup (35 g) flour until as finely ground as possible. Transfer to a small bowl.

Crush the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle or seal them inside a sturdy plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Add the crushed seeds to the pistachio mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl by hand), beat together the 1/2 cup (4 ounces/115 g) butter and 1 cup (200 g) sugar on medium speed until very light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until completely incorporated.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup (110 g) flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir it into the butter-egg mixture. Stir in the pistachio mixture just until combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan by dropping 4 or 5 mounds on top of the almonds. Carefully spread the batter into an even layer, trying not to disturb the almonds. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Let cool completely.

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  1. OMG, cardamom and pistachio taste so good together, eating this cake has to feel like heaven…
    I would love that book because I’m already drooling all over just by looking at the front page picture 😉

  2. Oh my — that cake looks absolutely gorgeous! So does the one on the front cover of David’s book — would love to know the recipe for it!

  3. I have never baked a cake before but this recipe is easy to follow. I will make this for the kids this week. Love your blog.

  4. I would love David’s book because, as me, he’s a cardamom lover and does not seem to get enough of the stuff!

  5. This pistachio-cardamom cake is delicious simplicity itself! I would love this book because I am ALWAYS ready for dessert. 8-D

  6. I would love David’s book because 1)I follow his blog, and I know that his recipes are very simple and the end product is always delicious 2) he is living my dream – living in Paris, cooking, and writing about it – and I live vicariously through his writing 3)I am a recent college grad who can’t actually aford to buy myself a copy.

  7. Being a recent college grad, I also know that “afford” is actually spelled with two Fs 🙂

  8. This cake is on my to do list already! I have recently ventured into the world of baking and always go for easy to follow recipes. I love David’s recipes and would absolutely love to have his book.

  9. This recipe sounds amazing! I need this book for two reasons–to broaden my horizons with inspiration from David, and so I can expose my son to all of these wonderful taste combinations!

  10. I love baking and am building up my cookbook collection to draw from. This would be the perfect addition!

  11. I would like to win this book for one special reason. My son who is an amazing furniture designer is also a wonderful cook! I was amazed to see him cook the most delicious meals when I visited him last week in San Francisco. I want to give this book to him and I know he will love making this cake for his next party and will be a great conversation peice because his middle name is ‘Yalakki’ which means cardamom!!!

  12. I try to follow simple baking recipes, because I have just begun baking. Baking is not my forte and I want to get over that. A book by David will definitely help with that and benefit me & my students (I think)

  13. Although I enjoy baking, I have always shied away from cakes. Surely they can’t be as difficult to make as I think! My sons are big cake fans so this book would be a great way to start a new baking phase. Either way, I have to make this cake soon as I have been looking for a pistachio cardamom cake for a long time. I lost touch with a friend who used to make a fantastic version of this cake in a bundt pan (without almonds) but dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Yum!!!

  14. I need the book because I love making desserts.

  15. Maria Springer Maja's Viennese Kitchen

    I love all his cakes…. David is a true artist when it comes to pastry. is not only the exterior artistry of his cakes…..he is one of the very few American pastry chefs who has the gift for blending favors in a way that only passion brings about.

  16. Oh, my, I would love this book because I have his ice cream cookbook and I LOVE it. It’s amazing. I need more of his books!

  17. Dessert is our favorite meal around our house! 😉

  18. The recipe you posted, Monica, looks absolutely divine. I would love a copy of David’s book because I adore how simple flavors make such an impact. Having David’s book would allow me to explore simplicity that much more.

  19. Recipe looks wonderful; I would like to try it.
    Cardamom is such a complex element to add. I sometimes sprinkle it on sweet potatoes.
    Would LOVE a copy of the book! I follow David’s blog and enjoy his recipes.

  20. I love making desserts, cooking too, but baking more. I have two of his other books and will get this one too, one way or another. Thanks for this!

  21. We have a winner! AMY TISI! Amy, send me an email with your information.

  22. OOh, cardamom and pistachios, two of my favorite flavors. Yum!

  23. Love that nutty and chocolaty dessert!

  24. Tried the cake n the outlook was awesome color of the cake was a beautiful natural green n the flavor of cardamom superb taste great. Thanks for the recipe. The only thing was that the base of the cake was not as brown as shown in ur picture. Thanks once again. I am a great fan of David Libovitz

  25. This was one of my favorite cakes from childhood and I was glad find it again. It is the perfect cake in many ways: beautiful, no icing needed, just the right size. I LOVE pistachio and cardamom desserts and it’s a flavor combination that’s underused in the US. If you need to make this cake sugar free, as I did, you can replace 1 cup sugar for 1/2 cup Truvia and it tastes exactly the same. There’s not even the slightest hint of artificial sweetener.

    1. Thanks for the lovely words. I will try it without the sugar.

  26. Hi…I just baked the cake, its delicious…I just have one question… it supposed to be fluffy like a normal yellow cake or a bit more dense??? Mine was a bit dense but delicious….

    1. Yes, it is a bit dense and not a “fluffy” cake! We enjoy it a lot and I am so glad you found it delicious!

  27. Unfortunately the almonds burnt on the bottom of the pan.
    If I bake the cake again, I would scatter almonds on the top of the cake without the sugar and butter.
    I followed the recipe to the T. ?

  28. Just made this, but with Bob’s Red Mill GF flour and non-dairy butter. It came out great – not too dense, and with a nice crumb and fantastic flavor. I’ll definitely make it again!

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