Lemon Cake with Raspberries and Pistachios


It seems to me that this year has given us an amazing berry season, at least in the Northeast. Not only for strawberries and raspberries, but this year we’ve eaten blackberries so sweet and juicy that it felt like we had never tasted real blackberries before. And the blueberries have been consistently great for weeks. I love this time of year, with all the amazing fruits and vegetables overflowing in market stands and grocery shelves. I always end up buying way too many so I’m always looking for ways to preserve the ones we’ll never manage to eat before they spoil. So, I end up making lots of jam in the summer, as well as some pickled vegetables.


This lemon cake with raspberries and pistachios is a fantastic way to use some of the beautiful raspberries of this season. When I saw the recipe in Bon Appétit, I was a little skeptical. I had already made a different raspberry cake with buttermilk and we were pretty happy with it. But I gave this recipe a try anyway. I’m so glad I did. This cake is spectacular! Its magic comes from the lemon syrup you brush on it as soon as it comes out of the oven. It soaks into the top part of the cake, so that when you eat it you get layers of sweetness and tanginess along with the distinctive floral taste of raspberries. And the pistachios and sprinkled sugar on top add a little crunch that makes the whole thing pop. And to top it all, it uses olive oil instead of butter, so it’s on the healthier side.

Believe me, you want to try this cake. It’s a total winner. And it also freezes beautifully (I freeze it in slices and defrost them on the countertop overnight), though it will probably disappear pretty quickly after it cools down.


Lemon Cake with Raspberries and Pistachios – Slightly adapted from Bon Appétit

Note: Do not be tempted to use less syrup than the recipe calls for. The cake needs it all.


A little vegetable oil for greasing pan
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
1¼ cups plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon plus ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, separated
¾ cup olive oil
1 cup fresh raspberries (about 4 oz.)
3 tablespoons chopped pistachios


Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9” diameter cake pan or springform pan with vegetable oil. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With mixer running, add vanilla, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, and lemon zest then gradually add oil, mixing just until combined. Fold in dry ingredients.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Scatter berries over cake, then pistachios and 2 Tbsp. sugar. Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 45–55 minutes.

While cake is baking, bring remaining ¼ cup sugar and remaining ¼ cup lemon juice to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar; let lemon syrup cool.

Transfer hot cake (still in pan) to a wire rack and immediately brush with lemon syrup (use all of it). Let cake cool completely in pan.

Cake can be stored for two days, wrapped tightly at room temperature. It can also be frozen.

Orange Blossom Ice Cream with Pistachios

Memory is a funny thing. The older I get, the more unpredictable it becomes. On the one hand, I have a hard time remembering what I ate yesterday for lunch or what was the plot of the book I just finished reading two nights ago. On the other hand, random memories will be pop up, seemingly for the first time, out of nowhere. The float to consciousness like bubbles from the dark, deep corners of my mind.


Often, these memories are triggered by a smell or a taste. I am well aware that our sense of smell is tightly linked to our memory function, but still, every time it happens, I marvel at the ability of a group of molecules that reach my nose or tongue to evoke such strong emotional recollections.

The first time I made this orange blossom ice cream, I had exactly this kind of experience. I had just finished cooking the custard base and I added the three tablespoons of orange blossom water that the recipe called for. Since the custard was steaming hot, the smell wafted up to my nose. The memory it triggered was of all the times that my mom made us a simple custard, flavored with orange blossom water (called anthonero), to have as dessert.


I hadn’t thought of that custard in decades. And yet, as soon as I remembered it, as soon as I smelled it in the bowl and tasted it on the spoon, I had a clear recollection of how it tasted of spring, how its creamy consistency coated our mouths, and how my sister and I always ignored my mom’s warnings to wait until it cooled down to eat it.


I knew that this recipe would be amazing, even before I chilled the custard in the fridge and froze it in the ice cream maker. I’ve made it many times since then and at some point I decided to add chopped pistachios for a taste and texture contrast, which turned out to be a fantastic idea.


This is a very easy ice cream to make. It uses cornstarch to thicken cream and milk into a quick custard. The trick is to make sure there are no cornstarch lumps and to cook it just enough time that it thickens and you can’t taste the “floury” cornstarch anymore. And if you are like me, the toughest part is to try not to eat it hot out of the pan, instead of chilling it and turning it into ice cream.


Orange Blossom Ice Cream with Pistachios

1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons orange blossom water
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, chopped

In a small bowl or a 2-cup measuring cup, stir together the cornstarch and heavy cream using a fork, making sure there are no lumps. Place the milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring so that the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream mixture. Return the pan to the stove and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. It should coat the back of the spatula or spoon. Taste the mixture: make sure it does not have any floury taste, if it does, continue to simmer it until the cornstarch is cooked.

Remove from the heat and add the orange blossom water. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then churn in your ice cream maker according to your manufacturer’s directions.

Add the chopped pistachios towards the end of the churning or layer them into the ice cream as you spoon it into its container from the ice cream maker.