How to make it

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven.
  • To make the cake: Place the egg yolks and 6 tablespoons of sugar in the bowl
  • of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (a handheld mixer is fine; just allow a little extra time to reach each stage in the recipe). Whip on high speed until the mixture is very thick, light in color, and ribbons when it falls from the whisk to the surface of the batter, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Place the pistachios, flour, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor and process until the nuts are finely ground, about 30 seconds.
  • In a clean mixing bowl, using a dean whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar, tablespoon by tablespoon, and continue beating just until the whites hold firm peaks and are glossy, another 1 to 2 minutes. To check the whites, dip a spoon into the bowl and scoop out some beaten whites--the whites should sit firmly on the spoon, and the peaks that formed in the bowl when the spoon was lifted should hold their shape (the very tips of the peaks may bend slightly--this is okay). Be careful not to overbeat the whites, or they will begin to dump and separate.
  • Use a rubber spatula to stir one-third of the egg whites into the yolks to loosen and lighten the mixture, then gently fold in half of the ground pistachios. When the nuts are almost incorporated, fold in half of the remaining egg whites. Then fold in the last of the pistachios, followed by the remaining egg whites. Scrape the batter into the sheet pan and use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to gently spread it evenly in the pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the center of the cake springs back when gently touched with a fingertip or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out free of crumbs. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool completely.
  • To make the soaking liquid: Combine the apricot jam, water, and amaretto in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until the mixture is hot and very liquid (do not let it boil).
  • To make the nougat cream, place the cream, honey, orange oil or orange liqueur, and almond extract in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on medium speed to firm peaks. Be careful not to overwhip the cream, or it will begin to separate and look curdled. If this happens, remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to gently stir in several tablespoons of cream, just until the whipped cream has smoothed out again.
  • To-assemble the cake: Run a thin, sharp knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. As you do this, gently press the knife into the side of the pan to avoid gouging the cake. Then grab hold of the parchment paper on one of the short sides and slide the cake, still attached to the parchment paper, out of the pan and onto your work surface. Trim 1/4 inch off each side of the cake and discard these dry edges. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the cake crosswise into 4 equal pieces (each about 4 inches wide), making sure to cut all the way through the parchment paper. Leaving the cake on the paper makes it much easier to maneuver the layers into position without breaking them.
  • Place the first layer of cake on the serving platter or cake cardboard, parchment paper upward. Once the cake is in position, gently peel back the paper and discard. Brush the cake with one quarter of the soaking liquid. Spread a 1/2-inch-thick layer of the nougat cream on top of the cake. Place the second cake layer on top, parchment paper upward, and gently peel off the parchment. Apply another layer of soaking liquid and nougat cream. Repeat with the next cake layer and another layer of soaking liquid and cream. Before you add the final layer of cake, brush the top of it with the remaining soaking liquid, then turn it over and place it on top of the last layer of cream and peel off the parchment. (This layer is different from the rest because the moistened side is downward, which leaves a dean, dry surface on which to finish icing the cake).
  • Set aside 1/2 to 2/3 cup of nougat cream to pipe around the edges of the cake, and use the remaining cream to frost the top and sides of the cake as smoothly as possible. Use a bit more cream on the top and a bit less on the sides, as the sides will be covered with nuts (and they will adhere to the barest coating of cream).
  • To finish the cake: Place the 2/3 cup pistachios in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until freely ground. To press the nuts into the sides of the cake, put a small mound of nuts in the palm of your hand. With your other hand, tilt the cake toward the nuts as you tilt your hand toward the cake, gently pressing them into the cream and letting the excess nuts fall onto your work surface or platter. Proceed around the cake until the sides are coated evenly with the ground pistachios. Gently brush away any excess nuts around the bottom of the cake. Spoon the reserved nougat cream into a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip and pipe a border around the top and bottom edges of the cake. Refrigerate until serving time.
  • Equipment and Advance Preparation
  • One 16 1/2 X ll 1/2-inch baking sheet with sides (if your pan is slightly smaller, the cake will take a bit longer to bake; if the pan is larger, the cake will be finished more quickly). Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan. If you find only pistachios in shells, buy double the weight given below and shell them by hand.
  • SERVING AND STORAGE NOTES: Slice the cake with a serrated knife into 3/4-inch thick pieces. I like this cake served simply, but if you want to dress up the plate, sprinkle it with powdered sugar and garnish the cake with a few strands of candied orange zest. Store the cake in the refrigerator with a piece of plastic wrap pressed firmly against the cut edge. The cake is at its best 8 hours after assembly, but will keep for 3 to 4 days.

Reviews & Comments 2

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    " It was excellent "
    juels ate it and said...
    Beautiful picture and the recipe sounds different and so yummy! You got my 5!
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    " It was excellent "
    chefmeow ate it and said...
    This looks gorgeous and sounds amazing. Great post my friend and a very high 5.
    Was this review helpful? Yes Flag

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