Baking / Free from / Fruit & veg / gluten-free / vegetarian

Turkish inspired: Pistachio & cardamom cake with pomegranate cream filling


In the midst of this bleak mid-winter, I fancied a taste of Turkey last weekend. I spent a few days in Istanbul last autumn and it was a true smorgasbord for the senses – a glittering kaleidoscope of bright colours and bold flavours and steamy hammams. Not something I could quite exactly recreate during our weekend in the Cotswolds – all crisp air and muddy fields and a superfluity of sheep – but I poured the exotic flavours and colours of Turkey into a lush birthday cake instead.

Syrupy (gluten-free!) pistachio sponge flecked with cardamom and iced with an indulgent lemon cream topped off with little bursts of pomegranate. It reminded me of eating drenched diamonds of pistachio baklava washed down by fresh, tart pomegranate juice on the sunny streets of Istanbul. This cake is a showstopper – bejewelled, exotic and the perfect antidote to a chilly, broke January (particularly if, like me, your boiler is broken and you are forced to eat to stay warm).


Pistachio & cardamom cake with pomegranate cream filling

Makes 1 x 20 cm / 8 inch cake


For the cake:

– 50g unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing)
– 5 large eggs (free-range please)
– 250g demerara sugar
– 350g shelled unsalted pistachios, ground (I use a blender)
– seeds of 12 cardamom pods, ground
– 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
– zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

For the topping:

– 1 pomegranate
– 150g double cream
– zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
– 40g shelled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped



Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line the bases and butter the sides of two 20 cm / 8 inch cake tins (loose-bottomed if possible).

In a small saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until aerated. Tip: I use a food processor but you could do this with a hand-held whisk if you’re feeling enthusiastic.

Gradually fold in the ground nuts, cardamom, baking powder, melted butter, lemon juice and zest, scraping down the sides to ensure everything is incorporated. Tip: Try not to overmix at this stage to keep as much air in as possible.

Pour the batter into your prepared tins and bake for about 30 minutes until the tops are golden brown and springy. Run a knife round the edge of the cake and leave to cool in the tin. Tip: If the cakes are browning too quickly in the oven, pop some foil on top.

For the filling and topping, cut the pomegranate in half and remove the seeds. Tip: You can do this by tapping the outer shell with a wooden spoon – the seeds should gently tumble out. Crush 1/3 of the seeds and pass through a sieve to extract the juice.

Whisk the cream until thick and stir in the lemon juice, peel and pomegranate juice. Spread onto both halves with a palette knife and sandwich together. Scatter the nuts and remaining pomegranate seeds on top.


A few more snaps from the extraordinary city of Istanbul:

Prayer beads

Turkish carpets

Blue Mosque

Grand Bazaar 2

Grand Bazaar 3

Source: Recipe and photos from pip & little blue.


9 thoughts on “Turkish inspired: Pistachio & cardamom cake with pomegranate cream filling

  1. Pingback: Pistachio and Cardamom Cake with Pomegranate Cream Filling ~ Gastronomy-Art | Food Art

  2. Hi Jamila,
    As soon as I saw this recipe I know I had to make it which I did this morning and I had a great outcome so thanks for sharing this recipe with us.

    Though had few notes that you or the readers may find helpful:
    1) The cake turned out bit too sweet for my liking so might reduce the amount of sugar next time.
    2) I separated 3 of the eggs and beaten the egg whites and folded it into the batter at the last stage for extra fluffy batter as I thought it might need it.
    3) For the filling I used half double cream and half mascarpone for richer flavour and added some ground cardamom and rose water, thou just after mixing the lemon juice the cream started to curdle  still tasted great but didn’t look the best. I might omit the lemon juice next time and maybe add some pomegranate molasses and see how that turns out.

    On last thing, have you tried subtitling some of the pistachios for flour? Am thinking of doing so next time for more cakey texture.


    • Hi Fahad, thanks for the comment and glad you like the recipe! In terms of separating the eggs, you do get sufficient rise without separating if you’re careful at the folding stage but you can whisk the whites separately if you have enough bowls! Sugar-wise, I find the lemon cream balances the sweetness well – I guess if you are adding richness with mascarpone and sweetness with the rose water, you might prefer a less sweet sponge. In terms of curdling, I’ve never had a problem with the cream personally – if using mascarpone as well, I would advise you whip the cream before mixing in the mascarpone because it is very easy to over whip mascarpone and split/curdle it. And do feel free to swap some pistachio flour for wheat flour (I wanted a gluten-free cake and was looking for a syrupy, dense sponge) and let me know how it goes!

  3. Pingback: 5 Gloriously Gluten-Free Cake Recipes - Steph in Thyme

  4. Pingback: Food Favorites Friday - 3.6.15 | Steph in Thyme

  5. Pingback: Pistachio and Cardamom Cake with Pomegranate Cream Filling | Cooked Well

  6. Istanbul is truly a magical place and I can’t wait to go back. Your pics capture the essence of it beautifully. This cake is also beautiful and I bet the pomegranate, pistachio, and cardamon make this cake a feast for the senses.

  7. Pingback: Pistachio cardamom cake with pomegranate | Lizzie the Lazy Student Cook

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