Pistachio-Topped Lemon-Olive Oil Cake


The original recipe for Ryan Hardy's delicious citrusy, nutty and dense cake comes from London's River Café restaurant. He substitutes olive oil for some of the butter and insists that it be served with tangy crème fraîche and an espresso. More Cake Recipes

Pistachio-Topped Lemon-Olive Oil Cake
Photo: © Rob Howard
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs



  • ¾ cup whole blanched almonds

  • cup plus 1/2 unsalted pistachios (about 7 ounces)

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)

  • 1 ¼ cups sugar

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1 vanilla bean (halved lengthwise and seeds scraped)

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • cup all-purpose flour

  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

  • Juice of 2 lemons

  • ¼ cup sugar

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • Crème fraîche (for serving)


Make the syrup

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 10-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the paper. In a food processor, pulse the almonds with 2/3 cup of the pistachios until finely ground.

  2. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until it's the texture of moist sand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla seeds and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the olive oil in a thin stream. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the ground nuts, flour and salt. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

  3. Bake the cake for about 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cake cool for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and peel off the parchment paper. Invert the cake again onto a serving plate.

  4. Meanwhile, toast the remaining 1/2 cup of pistachios in a pie plate for about 8 minutes, or until fragrant.

  5. In a small saucepan, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and water and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the syrup over the warm cake and scatter the toasted pistachios all over the top. Let stand for 1 hour, then cut into wedges and serve with crème fraîche.

Make Ahead

The cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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