For years, you could call me The Queen of Procrastination. Most people procrastinate doing things they dread like laundry, mailing bills, writing checks…you know, the boring stuff. BUT, I procrastinate doing the fun stuff, too.
Waiting until the last minute to get ready to go to a party? ME. Waiting and waiting to put my new pretty flowers in water? ME. Putting off baking a cake that’s been on my to-do list for a long time? ME. My apartment is so clean when I have other stuff to do.
One thing that’s helped me a lot in combatting procrastination is occupying my brain with something else. In the past few years, I’ve gotten really into listening to books on Audible. I’ve listened to all sorts of books! Recently, I listened to a book that was on my to-read list for years: Beautiful Ruins.
The roasted plum frosting is maybe the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made. The color makes my eye balls bulge out and shape into hearts.
It has everything I want in a summer read. It’s light, delicious, gossip-y; basically everything I want to read while laying on the beach. My biggest problem is that I never ended up reading it haha. So listening to it is way more realistic for me.
Coincidentally, part of the book takes place in Southern Italy. I’ve been trying to get to to the Amalfi Coast for a few summers now because it looks so ridiculously dreamy. I wanna see the rocky cliffs, the umbrellas, the seafood, the desserts and the large amounts of cold lambrusco. And plums. I always think of Italian plums.
The southern Italian part of the book inspired this cake. It’s a pistachio cake. It’s slightly dense, moist and the texture is magical. It’s nutty but still light.
Not gonna lie, the recipe you see below might make your eyes roll because there are a few parts to it. I know some shortcuts! Use store-bought pistachio paste (I opted to make it because I couldn’t find it!).
I love listening to books and baking. It’s like the most soothing combination in the entire world. This book (and recipe) are a good match because it helps pass the time in the most enchanting and entertaining way.
Of course you don’t have to listen to Beautiful Ruins, you can listen to all sorts of books. Listen to a new-to-you book, maybe one that’s bee on your to-read list.
Listening to it almost feels like a radio show in the 30s. I really, really dig it.
If you like, you can get a free 30-day trial to Audible. Listen to anything on there your heart desires!!
- 1 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 2 black plums, such as Santa Rosa Plums
- 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons water
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup egg whites (from 4 large eggs)
- 1 1/2 cups (about 3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon or orange zest (from about 1/2 orange)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought pistachio paste
- 3/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts
- To make the pistachio paste: To a high-powered blender or food processor, add the pistachios. Pulse until roughly ground. Transfer to a small bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Cook over high heat until it reaches 220 degrees and is bubbling. Pour over the pistachios and mix immediately. Transfer to the blender or food processor and pulse until finely ground. While the machine is running, pour in the oil. Blend until it resembles a soft peanut butter, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, mix in the almond meal. At this point it should go from soupy to firm. Measure out 1/2 cup of the paste and store the rest in the fridge. Set aside.
- To make the frosting: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a small baking dish, toss together the sliced plums, sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and water. Roast for 15 minutes, or until the plums are super juicy and a syrup has formed. Set aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the plums and its juices to a blender and pulse until completely pureed. Pour through a strainer, into a small bowl. You should end up with about 1/3 of a cup puree. In the bowl of a stand-up mixer with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and sugar; beat just until combined. Add a few inches of water to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place the stand-up mixer bowl atop the saucepan, creating a double-boiler.
- Heat until the mixture reads 160 degrees on a thermometer and/or until it's very hot to the touch. Transfer the bowl back to the stand-up mixer and beat, on high, for 8 to 10 minutes until medium to stiff peaks form. The sides of the bowl should be cool to the touch. Remove the whisk attachment and in place of it, add the paddle attachment.
- While the mixer is on low, add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, until it's light and smooth and fluffy. Lastly, add the 1/3 cup of plum puree and mix until combined. If the frosting is soupy (mine was because it was really hot), add the bowl to the fridge to chill for 5 to 10 minutes. This will work like a charm. Set aside until you're ready to frost the cake.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 8x3-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with a round of parchment (this isn't totally necessary but I always do this because my biggest fear is cake sticking to the bottom of pans). Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand-up mixer add the butter and sugar; cream together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the zest and then crack in one egg at a time, adding the next egg only when the one before it has combined. Almost lastly, add in the vanilla extract. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the yogurt and flour mixture in a few batches, alternating between the two. Lastly, add the pistachio paste and mix until properly combined.
- Divide the cake batter amongst pans, smoothing out the top with a spatula (the batter will be a little thick so it'll need some help smoothing out). Transfer to the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pan for 10 minutes before removing them to cool completely on a wire rack.
- To assemble: place the first layer of cake on a cake board or a cake stand. Add about 1/4 cup of frosting the top of the cake layer and smooth it out, pushing it out to the sides. Add the second layer on top and then add a second 1/4 cup to the top of that. (These measurements can be eyeballed.) Smooth out the top and add a nice thin layer all the way around the sides of the cake. Transfer to the freezer to chill for about 5 to 7 minutes. This is the crumb coat. Add a second even layer on the outside. Transfer to the cake to a baking sheet and press the chopped pistachios all around the sides of the cake. Slice and serve!
Recipe notes: The plum frosting's base is borrowed from the book Layered (one of my favorites!).
If you don't have two 8x3-inch cake pans you can use two 9-inch cake pans OR you can use three 8x2-inch cake pans.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.