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Pear, Pistachio and Rose Cake

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Introduction

This is a delicately perfumed confection: yes, a cake, but no ordinary cake; the fruit keeps it so tender and damp that it's as if it's been drenched in light, scented syrup. I've been bold with the amount of rosewater here but, with the pears and pistachios, it strikes only the most fluttering of floral notes. True, the amount of rose petals I strew on top makes it look as if you might just as well wear it on your head as eat it, but it's the sort of cake that invites exuberance.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

This is a delicately perfumed confection: yes, a cake, but no ordinary cake; the fruit keeps it so tender and damp that it's as if it's been drenched in light, scented syrup. I've been bold with the amount of rosewater here but, with the pears and pistachios, it strikes only the most fluttering of floral notes. True, the amount of rose petals I strew on top makes it look as if you might just as well wear it on your head as eat it, but it's the sort of cake that invites exuberance.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Pear, Pistachio and Rose Cake
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin

Ingredients

Makes: 8-12 slices

Metric Cups

For the cake

  • vegetable oil (for greasing)
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 100 grams pistachios
  • 450 grams (approx. 3) pears - not too ripe (cored and cut into chunks, skin still on)
  • 200 grams ground almonds
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • 6 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1½ teaspoons rosewater

For the topping

  • 2 teaspoons apricot jam
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon rosewater

To decorate

  • chopped pistachios
  • edible rose petals

For the cake

  • vegetable oil (for greasing)
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • ¾ cup pistachios
  • 1 pound (approx. 3) pears - not too ripe (cored and cut into chunks, skin still on)
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • 6 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1½ teaspoons rosewater

For the topping

  • 2 teaspoons apricot jam
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon rosewater

To decorate

  • chopped pistachios
  • edible rose petals

Method

You will need 1 x 20cm / 9-inch springform cake tin.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F. Grease the sides and line the base of your springform cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Put the sugar and 100g / ¾ cup of pistachios into a food processor and blitz until the pistachios are finely ground, with a few nubbly bits, too.
  3. Add the remaining cake ingredients and blitz until everything is smoothly combined and the pears have been pureed into the batter. Remove the blade, scrape down the mixture and use the spatula to help ease every bit of batter into the prepared tin.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, though take a look at 35 and if the cake looks like it's browning too fast, loosely cover with foil. When the cake's ready, it will be brown on top, beginning to come away at the edges and a cake tester will come out with just a few damp crumbs sticking to it.
  5. Sit the cake on a wire rack and leave to cool completely in the tin; like all flourless cakes, it will sink a little. When the cake is completely cold, unclip, remove the base and transfer to a cake stand or plate.
  6. Mix the jam, lemon juice and rosewater together in a cup, then brush this glaze over the surface of the cake, removing any small blobs of apricot if there are any. Scatter with finely chopped pistachios and strew with rose petals, then sprinkle a few more pistachio crumbs on the top.

You will need 1 x 20cm / 9-inch springform cake tin.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F. Grease the sides and line the base of your springform cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Put the sugar and 100g / ¾ cup of pistachios into a food processor and blitz until the pistachios are finely ground, with a few nubbly bits, too.
  3. Add the remaining cake ingredients and blitz until everything is smoothly combined and the pears have been pureed into the batter. Remove the blade, scrape down the mixture and use the spatula to help ease every bit of batter into the prepared tin.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, though take a look at 35 and if the cake looks like it's browning too fast, loosely cover with foil. When the cake's ready, it will be brown on top, beginning to come away at the edges and a cake tester will come out with just a few damp crumbs sticking to it.
  5. Sit the cake on a wire rack and leave to cool completely in the tin; like all flourless cakes, it will sink a little. When the cake is completely cold, unclip, remove the base and transfer to a cake stand or plate.
  6. Mix the jam, lemon juice and rosewater together in a cup, then brush this glaze over the surface of the cake, removing any small blobs of apricot if there are any. Scatter with finely chopped pistachios and strew with rose petals, then sprinkle a few more pistachio crumbs on the top.

Tell us what you think

What 10 Others have said

  • Followed the recipe exactly and WOW this cake was amazing! All who ate it were so impressed - thank you. Mary

    Posted by MezClark on 26th January 2020
  • I cooked it 30 minutes longer and used Bougainvillea petals from the garden to decorate it. Never mind the rose... still used rose water. It was just so beautiful and so delicious. A friend who is highly allergic to gluten said she hadn't had such a good dessert in years! Thanks Nigella for this wonderful recipe.

    Posted by Babine on 24th November 2019
  • I would have lined the sides of the tin too as it's very moist. And I heated the jam mix because that didn't just brush on, probably to do with the thickness of my jam.

    Posted by Ms-Miranda on 26th August 2019
  • I have just made this cake and it was a great success. Followed the recipe but used a slightly larger cake tin. It’s lovely and moist and ate it with some Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey. Will definately make it again. Thanks Nigella

    Posted by Proudley1968 on 7th July 2019
  • Be careful to weigh the pears to the stated weight. I had 2 pears, which weighed about 600 or 700g together, but I thought it would be OK since it was only 2 rather than 3 pears. Unfortunately, the middle of the cake did not set, despite cooking it for considerably longer than the stated time. I didn't have a cake tester either, so it was somewhat difficult to tell if the cake was set. Moral of the story: follow the recipe, as Nigella's recipes are usually spot on. I do plan to try this one again.

    Posted by verborgenheit on 18th May 2019
  • Delicious! Minimal prep and agree with other comments that it’s better in a bigger tin and takes about 25mins longer than recipe states.

    Posted by Hollyp17 on 6th May 2019
  • This cake is amazing. Served it for a family dinner party & it was a big hit. I found it took about 25 mins longer to cook than the recipe states. We had it still slightly warm, with crème fraiche. I wasn't sure I'd be able to get untreated rose petals so I got a pomegranate to use that instead for a bit of colour. Then I found that we still had a rose in the garden so I went ahead & used both. Delicious - will definitely be making this again.

    Posted by Bscott on 20th October 2018
  • I posted here a few weeks ago after my first attempt at this cake wasn't very successful - I have tried again, using a slightly larger tin and it has turned out perfectly, so I'm pleased I persevered. Now it looks too nice to slice!

    Posted by Katikins on 3rd September 2018
  • I'm so excited about this pear, pistachio and rose cake and have just baked it for the second time in a week, this time as a birthday cake to serve to friends. It looks and tastes beautiful. I am not a big rosewater flavour fan but it was very subtle alongside the other tasty ingredients. So moist - and stayed so for a few days. Both times it took longer to bake than suggested in the recipe (the first time I only had medium eggs so added 1 extra, maybe it made the batter too runny). Hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

    Posted by sillycalamari on 9th May 2018
  • What gorgeousness! I can't wait to taste this lovely cake. The fact that it's effortlessly gluten-free is a bonus.

    Posted by cocointhekitchen on 2nd May 2018
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