The gorgeous color and texture of this popular cake come from the addition of a packet of dry pistachio pudding mix. This was my first time using pudding mix in a cake, and I doubt it will be the last. The crumb on this cake is wonderfully moist and tender, even several days after baking.
Chopped pistachios become tender and chewy when baked into the cake, and a packet of pistachio pudding produces great color and a wonderfully moist crumb texture. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Most recipes I encountered online were shortcut versions, in that they used a packaged cake mix instead of making the cake entirely from scratch. I have nothing against cake mixes, as many of the top brands produce reliably good cakes without a lot of fuss for the baker.
Nonetheless, I love baked goods made from scratch and finally came upon a couple recipes that looked promising. I tested both and made a few adjustments along the way to create a Bundt cake that is easy to make, full of flavor and, of course, lusciously moist.
An important rule to follow when baking a cake is to make sure that the wet ingredients — butter, eggs, any liquids, etc. — are at room temperature before getting started, unless otherwise specified. When combined, room temperature ingredients form an emulsion which helps to trap air so that, as the cake bakes, air can expand and create a cake with a light and tender crumb. Using cold ingredients may produce a tougher, and tighter, crumb.
Another important technique in this recipe is to cream the butter and sugar together until well-combined, which takes about three to four minutes. Creaming the butter and sugar together before adding the other ingredients is the first step to trapping the air that will produce a superior crumb. Room temperature butter is perfect for this task, as it bonds with the sugar much more effectively than cold butter.
To prepare the Bundt pan, use a pastry brush to grease it well with melted butter, followed by a light coating of flour to help the cake release easily from the pan. This is always the tricky spot with Bundt cakes and, while not every cake has come out perfectly in my half-dozen test runs, they have all been equally delicious.
Greasing the Bundt pan with melted butter or shortening, followed by a light coating of flour, will help ensure the cake’s easy removal. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
I have read (but not yet tried) that melted vegetable shortening may work better than butter, but cooking sprays are to be avoided as they can leave residue buildup in the pan after several uses. If you know better, I would love to hear from you.
For an elegant presentation, you can dress the cake with vanilla glaze and chopped pistachios, but a light dusting of powdered sugar just before serving is also perfect.
I have added a new Bundt of the Month feature to my menu at SarahBakes, and this Pistachio Pudding Bundt Cake is my selection for March. Elegant, delicious and beautifully green, this cake is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter brunch or any day you feel like adding a touch of spring to your table.
Despite its elegant presentation, Sarah’s Pistachio Pudding Bundt Cake is easy to make and even easier to eat. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
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Serves: 12 to 16
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk, room temperature
1/3 cup canola oil
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), room temperature
1 ½ cups white granulated sugar
1 package (96 grams) of Jell-O instant pistachio pudding
4 eggs, room temperature
½ cup shelled pistachios, chopped
Shortening or butter, melted, for greasing the pan
2 ¼ cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
¼ cup shelled pistachios, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt until combined; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and cream together on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the dry pistachio pudding mix. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute until incorporated.
Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
Add the chopped pistachios and mix on low speed until combined.
Add the dry and wet ingredients alternately. Add a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk mixture, then repeat, ending with the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed after each addition just until incorporated (about 15 seconds for the flour and 30 seconds for the milk).
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter or shortening and use a pastry brush to grease the Bundt pan, making sure to coat all the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle a quarter cup of flour into the pan, and then gently turn the pan until the interior is evenly coated; discard the excess flour. For best results, prepare the pan just before adding the batter.
The cake’s lovely pistachio green color makes it a perfect choice for spring occasions like St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, distributing it as evenly as possible. Use a knife or offset spatula to spread and smooth the top.
Bake in the center of the oven until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 60 to 70 minutes.
The cake will rise nearly to top of the Bundt pan and pull away from the sides when fully baked. The soft cracking on the top is a signature of a well-made Bundt cake. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Remove cake from oven and place on a wire rack to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, before flipping to turn out the cake.
After 15 minutes, take an offset spatula or thin knife and run it around the edge of the cake to ensure that there are not any parts sticking to the pan. Place a wire rack over the top of the cake pan and flip the pan over with the rack now on the bottom. Remove the pan and let cake cool completely before icing. In lieu of icing, you could also add a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar just before serving.
To store: Store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
To freeze: The cake may be frozen either whole or in slices. Cover the cake or slices with plastic wrap and then place in an airtight container or plastic freezer bag. Freeze for up to 2 to 3 months; thaw at room temperature before serving.
To make the icing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. The icing should be thick but still spreadable. If you pull the whisk up, the icing should slowly fall in thick ribbons back into the bowl. If the icing appears too thick, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.
Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and place the cake on top. Spoon the icing around the top, circling around and around, letting the icing drip down the sides. Sprinkle the top with the chopped pistachios and let sit at room temperature until set.
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Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.
“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at email@example.com.