Thursday, August 20, 2009

Autumn To The Rescue...All She Lacks Is A Cape!

This months selection for The Cake Slice Bakers was Pistachio Petit Four Cake. It's a 3 layer pistachio cake with super this layers of apricot jam, marzipan and ganache. It's then coated entirely in a bittersweet chocolate ganache (I used semisweet) and decorated with more marzipan, tinted and shaped into roses.

I made this cake for my step dad's 50th birthday. I assume he liked it, he didn't say much but I know my aunt and uncle loved it. They love anything with marzipan! I even heard from my grandmother who was not at the party how great the cake was from them. So if you love these flavors this cake is for you!

While making this cake the kitchen smelled wonderful! The toasting of the pistachios the baking of the cake, the sweetness of the ganache and the nutty aroma from the marzipan was quite the treat. My husband walked in and said it smelled like a bakery.

I loved the cake batter and all the individual components but for some reason, I didn't love the final product. I think the marzipan overwhelmed and the pistachio flavor of the cake didn't come through as I hoped. I think it would be great as an almond cake because that was the dominant flavor, but I would sub out a different jam if I were to make it again.

Pistachio Petit Four Cake from Sky High Cakes Printable Version
  • 3/4 cup skinned pistachio nuts
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup apricot preserves
  • Marzipan (recipe below)
  • Dark chocolate glaze (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

Spread out the pistachios in a baking tray and toast in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly coloured. Transfer to a dish and let cool completely. Finely chop the pistachios and set ¼ cup aside for decoration.

Put the remaining ½ cup pistachios in a food processor. Add the sugar and pulse just enough to grind them finely. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder and salt. Blend with the mixer on low for 30 seconds.

Add the butter, milk and vanilla and with the mixer on low, beat until completely incorporated. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beaten eggs in 2 or 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only long enough to blend after each addition. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the layers to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners and let cool completely.


  • 8 ounces almond paste
  • 1 ½ cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup

Crumble the almond paste into a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on low speed to soften the almond paste. Add the confectioners sugar and corn syrup and beat until smooth. Wrap well in plastic so it doesn’t dry out and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before rolling.

NOTE: I made my marzipan but it would be much easier (and less sticky!) if you were to purchase prepared marzipan. It's about the same price.

Dark Ganache Glaze

  • 1 pound extra bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream

Chop the chocolate coarsely and put it in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a bare simmer. Pour immediately over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth and use the glaze soon after making before it starts to set. Allow to cool and thicken slightly before use.

NOTE: I used semisweet chocolate.


  • Roll out a third of the marzipan on a work surface dusted with a little confectioners sugar to about 1/8th inch thick. Set one of the cake pans upside down on the marzipan and trim around it with a small knife to make an 8 inch round. Repeat twice more with the remaining marzipan. Save your scraps to make roses for decoration if desired.
  • Place one cake layer on a cake board, flat side up. Spread ¼ cup of the apricot preserves evenly over the top, leaving a ¼ inch margin all round to allow for spreading. Place one marzipan round on top of the preserves and spread 1/3 cup ganache glaze over the top of the marzipan so that it is completely covered. Repeat with the second cake layer, adding more preserves, marzipan and glaze.
  • Add the final cake layer and top with preserves and marzipan as before. Place the whole cake on a wire rack set over a baking pan. Pour the remaining dark ganache glaze over the cake, spreading it as evenly as possible over the top and sides of the cake. Allow the ganache to set before transferring to a plate. It should be smooth and glossy.
  • Garnish the top with the reserved chopped pistachios.
  • Optional: Make some marzipan roses with any leftover marzipan scraps if desired.
* * * * * * *

I had one minor disaster while assembling my cake. I pulled it from the oven and it slipped out of my hand and fell on the floor! It was hot so I couldn't grab it, though it was an automatic reflex. Autumn came to check out what was going on (as usual). I managed to lift the cake off the floor and set it on a cooling rack without damaging the cake. I wasn't worried about it getting dirty though because the floor had just been mopped. Autumn took care of the crumbs for me- look at her licking her lips :-P

Happy 50th Birthday Rick!

Be sure to check out all the other Cake Slice Bakers!


Selba said...

The cake is pretty! I love anything with marzipan too :)

Happy B'day to Rick!

Autumn, good job, girl! ;)

Unknown said...

mind blowing! it's so gorgeous nice work

Coleens Recipes said...

Very nice work and beautiful photography!! Isn't it frustrating to work so hard on something and get minimal feedback from the recipient?

Donna-FFW said...

Have you ever thought of selling your stuff?? Everything you make is unbelievable. Happy bday to your he did love the cake.. he looks happy in the picture.

Heather S-G said...

Wow...gorgeous as usual! Superdog!

Denise said...

So beautiful and Im sure it tastes as good as it looks.

cookies and cups said...

Gorgeous cake, don't you hate when you want something to be great and it is only ehhh...that's happened to me more times than I can count! It seems like this was quite a lot of work too...great job, it looks beautiful!

Katie said...

Looks like your cake was a great success. I too thought the pistachio flavour didn't come through as much as I'd hoped but I loved the whole cake. Sounds like it was very much enjoyed

steph- whisk/spoon said...

what a stunning cake for a celebration!!

Spryte said...

Wow!! That's gorgeous!!!

Jo said...

Gorgeous cake. I didn't have apricot so used strawberry instead and I think it worked very well with the ganache. I think this recipe works well with almond and hazelnut as well. Great job!

Kim said...

Hi Monica. I posted your pulled bbq chicken on my blog today with a link back to you and Lisaloo (also sent you and email). I have an award for you both and want to say thank you to both of you for such a great a versatile recipe. I've made it twice already!!

symphonious sweets said...

Your cake looks great! Good Job! I agree with you about the flavor and the jam. The pistachios where barely detectable flavor wise. The flowers you made are awesome!

Smitten Sugar said...

Wow those pictures look great! Im not a huge pishachio fan but that picture makes me want to try it! Pretty roses :)

vanillasugarblog said...

8 inch pans? Man what kind of stash do you have over there? How many pans do you have? I'm lucky if I have 2 9's and 1 10. I need to come raid your pantry. Seriously.

Lissaloo said...

Beautiful! I love the contrasting colors of the flower and the chopped nuts :)

Foodiewife said...

Oh! You know how much I ADORE marzipan. You're killing me! I don't know if I have the patience/talent to make these roses. I look just like Autumn...if you could see my puppy dog eyes and drooling tongue. Oh, how I'd love a slice of this. Are airline tickets to Texas affordable? Beautiful, as always, my talented friend.

Ingrid_3Bs said...

I gotta make this quick...I'm supposed to be working, shhhh!

Love the photo of the pretty even the gananche. That's next week's winner! :)

You always do such a great job.

Ingrid_3Bs said...

My typing skills stink! I really need to slow down or proof read!

Caroline said...

Beautiful cake, your roses look so pretty. I agree, this cake smelled wonderful as it baked in the oven, worth staying in a hot kitchen for.

Maria said...

Nice job on the cake, perfect for a birthday celebration.

A New England Girl said...

Looks delish! And oh so pretty. :) Glad you had your faithful Autumn there to help clean up the crumbs. Aren't dogs just the best in that department? Love it!

Jacque said...

It sure is a pretty cake!

I know what you mean in being disappointed with the flavors not being what you expected. Been there, done that!

Kerstin said...

Your cakes always impress me and this is no exception! Marzipan and pistachios sound so lovely together. Glad you were able to save the cake layer :)

Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

Yes, I can understand through the internet, just how happy your husband seems to be in the photo.....what a gorgeous creation! I dream of your photos!

American Homemaker said...

that looks super yummy :)

unconfidentialcook said...

Pistachio and chocolate...divine! The cake is gorgeous and a happy bday to Rick. Lucky guy!

Palidor said...

That is an absolutely perfect looking cake!

Zsofi Anna said...

Wow, that is glorious-looking indeed. You deserve a huge prize, in general, for your awesome baking.

My dog, Mika, LOVES kitchen mishaps. After walks, snoozes in the sun, and more walks, they are her favourite thing in the world.

Erin said...

WOW! What a gorgeous cake! great job!

Sophie said...

So pretty. I love how the color of the roses and pistachios contrasts so nicely with the chocolate.

Hey, I follow the 3 second rule, it's okay :).

Bunny said...

Would you look at that cake! It's gorgeous!! Sorry it wasn't to your liking, but you can always make it so it would be.

Mermaid Sews said...

What a gorgeous cake. So bummed to miss this one, craziness over here.

Gracey said...

Wow, this cake looks amazing! I am drooling right now!

Mimí said...

Your cake looks beautiful. beautiful marzipan roses =)

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