January 11, 2017
This cake, with its fluffy, pistachio-dotted layers and rich, luxuriant cream cheese frosting, is one for the books. The light layers have a luscious flavor thanks to Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the batter, and the rich frosting is crowned with an all-over drizzling of Perugina Limoncello Dark Chocolate, crunchy pistachios, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
For the Cake
For the Topping
1Make the cake. Adjust an oven rack in the middle position; preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease, flour and line the bottoms of two 8-inch cake pans with circles of parchment paper.
2In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set to the side. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Transfer the mixture to a bowl for the moment, and set to the side.
3Fit your stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a rotary beater. In the bowl (it’s fine to use the same bowl you just used for the egg whites; no need to wash), combine the Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil and two types of sugar. Mix on low speed until combined; the sugar will take on a texture like wet sand.
4Add the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Stir in the vanilla.
5Add the sour cream and flour mixtures alternately, in 2-3 additions each. Mix until the batter is smooth and lump-free, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. The batter will be fairly thick.By hand, fold the egg whites into the batter, stirring gently and only until no streaks of white remain. Fold in the pistachios.
6Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, rotating at the 15 minute mark. To test doneness, insert a cake tester or toothpick in the center of the cake. It should come out mostly clean.
7Remove the cakes from the oven, and let cool for 5 minutes. Then, run a sharp knife around the perimeter of each pan, to loosen the edges. Turn the cakes out onto wire racks, gently peel off the parchment paper, and let cool completely. Once cooled, level the cakes if necessary.
8Make the buttercream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until very smooth. Add 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and the salt, and stir to combine, first on low then on a higher speed as the sugar is absorbed. Continue adding the sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the buttercream has attained your desired spreading consistency. Stir in the vanilla. If at any point the buttercream becomes too thick, add milk or cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the consistency has thinned out to your desired consistency.
9To assemble, stack one of the cake layers on a platter, and apply a generous amount of buttercream on top, spreading it evenly all the way to the edges of the cake surface. Place the second cake layer on top; if you have leveled the cake, place the cut side down so that the flattest surface is facing up.
10Apply a crumb coat (a thin coat of buttercream that is meant to contain crumbs and doesn’t have to look pretty), and let the cake chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Once the crumb coat has set, use the remaining buttercream to ice the top and sides of the cake. You can pipe designs or take any liberties with cake decorating that you like.
11Once the cake is iced, melt the chocolate in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler. Using a spoon, drizzle the chocolate on top of the cake. Sprinkle the remaining chopped pistachios on top, and finish with a pinch of sea salt. Serve in generous slices. Store the cake, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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