Pistachio Birthday Cake

by Kiran on March 27, 2012 · 57 comments

in Baking, Cake, Celebration

Last Sunday was the Husband’s BIRTHDAY!! So I baked him a cake, at the very last minute.

Allow me to back up for a second.

I have never been a full-fledged baker before. The baking pans in my pantry are pretty scarce and I’ve never thought of baking a two-tier cake before. I’ve always tried to minimize the size of cake I choose to bake when its feeding only the two of us, so a tiered cake was always out of the picture.

Or perhaps the idea of “frosting” intimidates the heck out of me?

So I drove to the store to pick out another cake pan, assuming the one I had at home was a 9inch pan.


I had a 10 inch pan waiting for me as soon as I rushed home to bake the birthday boy a cake. Never assume my friends, never.

And never ever procrastinate.

Did I just use another huge word?

Anyhoo, crisis was averted by making one whole cake using the 9 inch pan, and halving cake was the best option at that time.

Or at least I thought it was.

After completely slathering the cake with frosting, I took a step back and realized something was off-putting. The top tier was not leveled. It was slightly puffed and definitely needed a slice to level.


The Husband definitely heard some swearing in between and knew I had my stress levels through the roof!!!

He came to the rescue, took one look at the cake and smiled. That smile definitely got me thinking about imperfection. There’s nothing wrong with a lop-sided cake. The flavors were spot on and I wish I had it leveled but that day was not about how perfect the cake needs to be.

That day was about the Husband & celebrating his life. Our life 🙂

I love you so much.

Marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other never forgets them — Ogden Nash

Lesson # 127 & note to myself: Get 6 inch cake pans that would feed our dietary needs (2 servings). Nothing more nothing less.

Happy Birthday to the love of my life 🙂

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ground raw pistachios
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, soften at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 6 oz non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup pistachios, crushed


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease cake pans, set aside.
  2. Sift and combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. With mixer on low, add butter and light brown sugar. Beat until completely incorporated.
  4. Raise the speed to medium and beat until mixture appears pale.
  5. Lower the mixer speed to add beaten eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of bowl well and only mixing long enough until incorporated.
  6. Add non fat greek yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice and almond extract. Mix gently just enough to incorporate all ingredients.
  7. With the mixer on low, add dry ingredients in 2 to 3 increments and mixing long enough to blend after each addition.
  8. Divide batter among 2 prepared 9 inch pans.
  9. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Allow layers to cool in the pans for 30 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks and let cool completely.
  11. While cake cools, prepare frosting. Add heavy cream in the mixer and whip on high until almost stiff.
  12. Add softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, almond extract and lemon juice. Beat until cream holds peak.
  13. Once cake layers are completely cooled, frost in between layers and on the top tier. Sprinkle crushed pistachios generously on each layer.


Giveaway winners!!

Thank you to each and every one of you who entered this giveaway!

Congratulations to the winner’s of Joy The Baker’s cookbook:
Jen  |  Suchi  |  Lubna
Kindly email your mailing address at kiran [at] kirantarun dot com and I would send the cookbook over to you soon 🙂

Question of the day: Any baking mishaps lately? I foresee more in my future.


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Comments on this entry are closed.

1 Sara {OneTribeGourmet} March 27, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Kiran, such a sweet & loving post and delicious cake for your hubby’s birthday!
Sara {OneTribeGourmet} recently posted..My Trip to Cairo, Egypt & An Egyptian Spiced Dukkah Eggplant Fries

2 Margarita March 27, 2012 at 6:02 PM

I love that marriage quote, it is pretty hilarious! My desserts are never pretty… it’s the taste that counts and the look of satisfaction on the person you are feeding it to. Happy Birthday to your husband… he is a lucky man!
Margarita recently posted..Whole Roast Chicken and Vegetables au Vin… Even Better the Next Day

3 pavithra March 27, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Beautiful beautiful cake..love the texture. Pistachio cake I looooooooooooove it. Happy Birthday to your Husband 🙂 Awesome !!!

4 Ambika March 27, 2012 at 6:30 PM

A lovely cake! I kinda like the lopsided top, makes the cake look homemade and has an old fashioned charm! I also need to get 6 inch cake pans. This is one reason I don’t experiment much with cakes, because it always ends up being too much. Not that I don’t like to eat it, I promptly go for a serving after every meal, even breakfast 😀 But then the guilt builds up!!!
Ambika recently posted..Dutch Crunch Bread – Daring Baker’s Challenge March 2012

5 vianney March 27, 2012 at 6:35 PM

So sweet!! I had to head over after checking out the FB pics, such a dreamy cake.. imperfections make it even sweeter, he looks so Happy!!
vianney recently posted..Mojitos

6 Katherine Martinelli March 27, 2012 at 6:39 PM

Aww so sweet!! This cake looks absolutely perfect, imperfection at all. And the pistachio flavor is just wonderful.

7 Emily March 27, 2012 at 7:06 PM

The cake was perfect for you and that is all that matters! Beautiful photos! Happy Bday to your hubby!
Emily recently posted..Planting a Vegetable Garden is Easier than You Think

8 Reem | Simply Reem March 27, 2012 at 7:56 PM

I love reading your post always Kiran but my friend this post made me smile too…
Smile on how true it is that marriage is beyond perfection, It is truly a celebration of Imperfection and the love which makes it so beautiful!!
A Very Happy Birthday to Your Better Half…
And trust me this cake does look very gorgeous!!!

9 Simply Life March 27, 2012 at 8:36 PM

what a sweet post and fun way to celebrate his birthday!
Simply Life recently posted..Surprise!…Pack An Overnight Bag!

10 Liana Jacinta March 27, 2012 at 9:29 PM

LOPSIDED OR NOT, Its always the love, thought and effort put into it Kiran! And happy Birthday Tarun! May you both be blessed with beautiful beautiful years ahead !

11 Kim Bee March 28, 2012 at 12:11 AM

I love this cake. Pistachio is my absolute fave thing in the world. Happy Birthday to your hubby! It’s the lopsided stuff in life that makes it interesting!!
Kim Bee recently posted..How to have fun and make complete tools of yourself at Disney or aka The Bee’s Trip to Disney!

12 Richa@HobbyandMore March 28, 2012 at 12:41 AM

aww.. happy birthday to Tarun! that cake looks great.. i love the pistachio top and in the end, its the smile that matters!
Richa@HobbyandMore recently posted..Interview with Kathy Freston about her new Book "The Lean" Also, a Book Giveaway!

13 Barbara | Creative Culinary March 28, 2012 at 1:24 AM

I enjoyed every moment of this post! I love in Denver which is a mile high or 5,280 up in the air which makes baking problematic. Cakes rise and fall due to atmospheric pressure (or lack of it) and I always have to modify the recipes I make to try and get them to work for ME (I cite ingredients for what we call ‘flatlanders’).

So to hear of your tale I couldn’t help but chuckle…I deal with this stuff each and every time and you have done what I told someone just recently…it’s not always about the ingredients when you bake something, it’s about how you manage if something goes awry. And you managed just fine…cake looks fabulous!
Barbara | Creative Culinary recently posted..Espresso Hot Fudge Sauce with Toasted Walnuts

14 Rosa March 28, 2012 at 1:54 AM

A lovely cake! So delicious looking. Nice smooth texture.

Happy belated Birthday to your husband.



15 Suchi March 28, 2012 at 3:39 AM

Belated happy birthday to your husband 🙂 The cake looks yum, that frosting is awesome…for a cake to not rise at the centre, rather rise uniformly all over you need to use something called the magic strips…I had put in the link in my strawberry cake post…you can buy these or just make it at home…really helps if you are planning to do a frosting…that said, I like the look of this cake as well…and your husband looks happy, so mission accomplished 🙂
Thanks for the giveaway, or should I thank random.org ? 🙂 Will shoot you an email soon…
Suchi recently posted..Fhuchka- An Ever Popular Kolkata Snack…

16 Purabi naha March 28, 2012 at 4:00 AM

What a yummy-looking cake! I loved the addition of pistachios!! My belated b’day wishes to your husband!
Purabi naha recently posted..Easy Ginseng Breakfast Congee

17 Lubna Karim March 28, 2012 at 5:24 AM

Belated wishes to your husband……cake looks extremely yum…..love the addition of pistachios to it……even the cake stand looks superb……love the simple deco in the cake pic….Congrats to the winners and thank you so much for picking me up…i just can’t believe my eyes till now…..
Lubna Karim recently posted..Sambhar Sadam

18 Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb March 28, 2012 at 6:17 AM

Your cake looks perfectly fine Kiran, so no need to worry. =)

Happy birthday to your husband!

I d be soo happy if somebody would make me this cake, pistachio was always one of those flavoures I couldnt get enough from. The streusel fit well too as topping.

19 chinmayie @ love food eat March 28, 2012 at 7:33 AM

Happy Birthday to your Hubby! I have never baked a tiered cake and never really done a ‘proper’ frosting so I understand how you feel. You have done great job!
chinmayie @ love food eat recently posted..Banana Apricot Muffins (Whole Wheat & Vegan)

20 jen @ one curly fry March 28, 2012 at 7:53 AM

Yay! Thanks so much!! 🙂

Happy Belated Birthday to your husband! That cake is gorgeous! My other half’s birthday was on Monday. But he’s partial to ice cream cake! 🙂
jen @ one curly fry recently posted..Cupcakes from The Boardwalk Bakery [Walt Disney World]

21 Cher March 28, 2012 at 7:59 AM

Your cake looks beautiful 🙂
Tiered cakes can definitely require a little extra patience.
Cher recently posted..Daring Baker’s March ’12 Challenge: Dutch Crunch (Brown Rice Bread w/ Dutch Crunch Topping & Turkey-Bacon Grilled Sandwiches)

22 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc March 28, 2012 at 8:16 AM

Such a creative idea for a birthday cake!
Alison @ Ingredients, Inc recently posted..Easter or Passover Main Dish Idea: Mahi Mahi and Vegetable Kabobs

23 Ina gawne March 28, 2012 at 10:00 AM

What a delicious cake…love the pistachios and the use of yogurt. So yummy!
Ina gawne recently posted..A SAVORY TURKEY MEATLOAF

24 Em (Wine and Butter) March 28, 2012 at 11:31 AM

I love the ingredient list for this!! Quite like your pear cake…?? Which was SO delish and so easy. Plus your cake is very pretty… no need to fret at all!! xoxo
Em (Wine and Butter) recently posted..Orange Infused Beef Stew

25 Sanjeeta kk March 28, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Just look at that smile on your hubby’s face..a proud man..and why should he be not, with such a caring wife by his side! Your baking pan should be the next to feel proud for baking such a lovely cake 🙂 Hugs.
Sanjeeta kk recently posted..Baking | Berry-Berry Healthy Corn flake Cookies – Cookie Is Where The Crunch Is

26 Nami | Just One Cookbook March 28, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Happy Birthday to your husband! Seriously congrats to you to make a cake!!! I was shocked to see you and I were similar in a way that we’re afraid of “cake” and “frosting”. But you did it my friend! You step up. I’m still here scared of cake, frosting, and two layers? Ohhhhh not in my comfort zone… I won’t be too worried about the size of cake (heehee) but still, I feel fear… so really, GREAT JOB! I’m so proud of you. One day when you see my first cake, you will know this cake is MUCH better than mine… 😉
Nami | Just One Cookbook recently posted..Spinach and Feta Turnovers – Guest Post by Katherine Martinelli

27 Asmita March 28, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Hi Kiran,
This cake looks fantastic! I think the imperfections look nice, like it’s a home made cake and not out of some factory. Glad your husband loved it. You are such a sweet and loving wife. He is lucky to have you.
Asmita recently posted..Red Berry Trifle

28 honeywhatscooking March 28, 2012 at 1:56 PM

happy birthday hubby! this looks delicious. so funny, i just ate a pistachio cake from magnolia last week and i didnt’ like it at all cuz the frosting was made with meringue frosting. infact, i emailed them telling them to use buttercream. yours looks divine!!!! love that quote, sent it to my hubbs.
honeywhatscooking recently posted..Bakery: Choc O Pain (Hoboken, NJ)

29 Grandma Kat @ Easy Recipes Land March 28, 2012 at 3:03 PM

This looks amazing and I’m excited to give it a try. I bet my great grand children that are coming to visit this weekend would love to help grandma make it. So, I’ll make it a project for all of us. 😉

Thanks for posting the recipe,

Grandma Kat

30 the wicked noodle March 28, 2012 at 4:12 PM

I like your husband 🙂 He sounds a lot like mine (and I would be the one cursing 😉 The cake is beautiful! I agree that sometimes a few imperfections can make it even more special. Well done!
the wicked noodle recently posted..lemon tiramisu {with homemade lemon curd}

31 angela@spinachtiger March 28, 2012 at 4:17 PM

I’m sure the cake was great, but I feel your pain. Today is my husband’s birthday. Yesterday I was very sick and my plans to bake were ruined. Not still feeling great I attempted to make a strawberry cake. It was a disaster, never rising, and as heavy as a kettle ball. And, to think I just placed second in a cupcake a contest Saturday but can’t make a nice cake for my husband’s birthday. But he is alive, healthy and we’ve had a happy day. That’s all that matters. As for your swearing in the kitchen, I truly understand. Happy Birthday to your husband.

32 Gretchen O'Donnell March 28, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Nice! I’m certain that taste trumps looks every time in the cake world! I love pistacios – I bet this is wonderful! Might have to give this a try…
Gretchen O’Donnell recently posted..The Gnome House

33 Jennifer (Delicieux) March 28, 2012 at 8:47 PM

Awww what a sweet post. You can feel the love you share for your husband, and he sounds quite similar to my fiance. Your cake is beautiful though, and I think somethings are more beautiful because of their imperfections.

Happy birthday to your husband!
Jennifer (Delicieux) recently posted..Rhubarb Bundt Cake

34 D'Anna March 28, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Cute post, I think everyone that has baked a cake has had this happen to them. It always seems to happen when we want it to be perfect. Next time, make that 6 inch cake and use the rest of the batter for cupcakes. Freeze them and have cake another time. You can always decorate the cupcakes with whipped cream and fruit or ice cream…. I’ve never had pistachio cake before. Something I need to try. Happy baking!

35 Alyssa @ Everyday Maven March 28, 2012 at 11:08 PM

I love this! It’s perfectly imperfect Kiran – I think it is beautiful!

36 Choc Chip Uru March 29, 2012 at 12:40 AM

Happy Birthday to your husband my friend 😀
What a delicious and perfect way to celebrate – bet he was thrilled 😀

Choc Chip Uru
Choc Chip Uru recently posted..Nothing Says Thank You Like Ice Cream

37 Deeps @ Naughty Curry March 29, 2012 at 2:26 AM

aww, that is so sweet! the cake looks lovely… im sure ur husband mustav been thrilled 🙂
Deeps @ Naughty Curry recently posted..Tri-Colour Kulfi – 3 layers… 3 flavours

38 Sammie March 29, 2012 at 3:12 AM

awwww… That is so sweet Kiran!!! What a happy and cute couple you guys are! Your post brought a smile to my face and I enjoyed reading it! Your husband must be so impressed with your delicious pistachio cake! I <3 <3 pistachio btw. lol. Funny that it actually happened to me before as well! For some reason I assumed my springform pan was the same size as my regular sized pan when I wanted to make a layered "cheesecake-sponge cake" cake. That was quite an adventure… haha.. At least now you have pans of different sizes!! 😀
Sammie recently posted..Les Croissants

39 Chandani March 29, 2012 at 3:12 AM

I tend to shy away from backing too and only recently started to try it. Your cake just looks amazing I am drooling all over your lovely photos.
Chandani recently posted..Nepal Food and Culture

40 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen March 29, 2012 at 5:19 AM

Happy birthday to your hubby! Mishaps happen to us all, in the end it’s the taste that matters most and the love put into it.
Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen recently posted..Gluten Free and Grain Free Chocolate Granola | Chocolate for Breakfast

41 Khushboo Thadani March 29, 2012 at 6:51 AM

Happy birthday to Tarun! I forgot to mention that the other day I read your story of how u both met and it really made me feel warm & fuzzy (I’m a hopeless romantic)! This cake looks fabulous: moist and perfect cake to icing ratio :)! And I definitely agree about imperfections- they’re what make us perfect in our own ways!
Khushboo Thadani recently posted..Wednesday Waffle

42 Alana March 29, 2012 at 7:35 AM

What a charming post and charming cake!! Super lovely, and it looks great.
Alana recently posted..Pear Vanilla Bean Brûlée Tarts + Pear Crisp

43 Judit - Corina @WineDineDaily March 29, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Happy Birthday to your Husband, and congratulations to you for the LOVELY CAKE! It looks delicious & charming & for all things PERFECT!
Cheers 🙂
Judit – Corina @WineDineDaily recently posted..Not your typical Fax Food pizza recipes

44 Biana | Meal Planning Tips March 29, 2012 at 7:02 PM

What a great post. Happy Birthday to your husband!

I hear you about baking. Actually, I just posted a cake recipe on my blog, and in the post I discuss exactly that, how I am a cook, but not a baker.
Biana | Meal Planning Tips recently posted..Bundt Cake Recipes With Mascarpone Frosting

45 easyfoodsmith March 29, 2012 at 11:54 PM

I wish Kiran, you had never mentioned about the lop sided cake…it is actually really hard to make out that it was!! 😉 The cake looks perfect to me and so so yummy! Well done!
Wishing a happy, healthy and long life to your hubby 🙂
easyfoodsmith recently posted..TOMATO RICE S/W SABUDANA PAPAD (Tomato Rice S/W Tapioca Pearls Papadums)

46 Andi at The Particular Traveler March 30, 2012 at 12:25 AM

Oh, honey, some of my baking efforts make your cake look like a million bucks. Imperfection really is beautiful, especially when there is love involved. The cake looks and sounds yummy. A very happy birthday to your hubby!

As always, can’t wait to see what you post next! 🙂
Andi at The Particular Traveler recently posted..My Hotel Room "Fix-It" Kit

47 beti March 30, 2012 at 12:28 AM

I wish it was my birthday too so that I can have a cake like this one
beti recently posted..Nutella Kisses

48 shooting star March 30, 2012 at 1:29 AM

happy birthday to your hubby…thr cake looks nice..even though its lopsided..sometimes imperfections make the things perfect!!
shooting star recently posted..A white welcome to the summers!!……..Sari Love [#6]

49 Jim Banes March 31, 2012 at 10:26 PM

Don’t get any arm hair in that delicious cake!

50 Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious April 1, 2012 at 6:59 PM

Happy Belated Birthday to your better half! I remember making my hubby my first birthday cake – and it was from the box! We’re still together 🙂
Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious recently posted..Sweet and Spicy Korean Fried Chicken

51 Jenny @ BAKE April 2, 2012 at 3:46 PM

this cake looks perfect! you wouldn’t guess your stress levels from it’s appearance! I can completely sympathies with the added pressure you pu on yourself when you are baking for the love of your life, last year my boyfriend’s birthday cake collapsed en route and it was heart breaking!
Jenny @ BAKE recently posted..IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!

52 Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos April 2, 2012 at 7:20 PM

What a great post 🙂 One good thing I always say when something doesn’t look as I planned it to be “Hey – it’s rustic.” Food might not appear perfect – but when it’s made with love it always is, IMO.
Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos recently posted..Tried and True: Coq Au Sauvignon Blanc

53 Amrita (Beetlebuggy) April 3, 2012 at 12:06 AM

LOL I always get lopsided cakes when I halve them to make layers. It used to bug me a lot before but now I’ve just learned to give in to taste more than looks. Plus, you’ll soon learn to mask the lopsidedness with clever frosting 😉 What a lovely gesture of love for your husband’s birthday!
Amrita (Beetlebuggy) recently posted..Candied Sweet Potatoes by Elizabeth Andoh

54 tania@mykitchenstories April 4, 2012 at 5:30 AM

Perfectionism is sometimes a curse and truly we must know when to congratulate ourselves for just being good. Hope your lovely partner had a great day. The cake looks delicious
tania@mykitchenstories recently posted..Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tarts

55 notyet100 April 5, 2012 at 9:37 PM

Even I have o buy small cake pan as the one I have is too big 🙁 cake looks delicious
notyet100 recently posted..New delhi trip march 2012 – seven days in Delhi

56 Magic of Spice April 10, 2012 at 11:32 AM

I think it is a lovely cake…and such a sweet post! Happy Belated Birthday to your husband 🙂
Magic of Spice recently posted..Food Photography "A Perspective"~ Food Styling with Nancy Lopez-McHugh

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