| the sicilian cake

May 25, 2009

Sarah and I refer to this as ‘The Sicilian Cake’, but now that I’m to write about it, I can’t think why we named it this. It’s just that the flavours seemed Sicilian to us. Please forgive us if they don’t say Sicily to you. We’ve been talking and talking for years now, about visiting our friend Samantha’s family in Sicily, they have a beautiful villa, but the closest we’ve come to the Mediterranean is eating this cake. But a piece of this cake is almost as good as a holiday, really it is.

The recipe comes from The Sunday Age and I ripped it out maybe a year or so ago, and took forever to finally make it. Actually Sarah finally made it and now it’s very firmly stuck in her repertoire, and I wish we’d made it sooner. Please also forgive us for not knowing the chef’s name, when I tore it out of the paper I somehow managed to tear their name off. Please let us know if you know who it belongs to. In the paper it’s called Chocolate, Apricot and Pistachio Spice Cake.

When cooked to perfection, the texture of the cake is chewy on the inside with a delicious crunchy top. This is the egg whites at work. There is the hint of cardamom and each bite has the bitter dark chocolate and sweet apricot. The pistachios are the flour substitute, and need to be ground into a powder, but leave a third of them roughly chopped so they can provide that green fleck and nut crunch.

We think this cake would be beautiful as part of a Christmas feast. Or simply serve it in the afternoon with coffee and daydream of faraway places.

The Sicilian Cake

100g pistachios
100g slivered almonds
165g butter
100g caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
100g dried apricots, finely chopped
150g dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon (for best results roast the seeds quickly in a dry pan and grind them yourself)
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon icing sugar, for dusting
thick cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 190C and grease and line a 25cm round cake tin with baking paper.

In a food processor, whiz two-thirds of the nuts until finely ground, you can also do this in a mortar and pestle, but it takes a little while. Roughly chop remaining nuts by hand. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale. Add egg yolks one at a time, then stir in ground nuts, apricots, chocolate, cardamon and vanilla seeds. Whisk egg whites with salt in a stainless-steel bowl until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold one-third of the egg whites into cake mixture, then fold in remaining egg whites. Pour into cake tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow cake to cool, dust with icing sugar and serve with a dollop of cream.

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Category: cakes, recipes
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the sicilian cake: 16 comments

  1. valisa Says:

    what a gorgeous and warm blog! I am smitten.

  2. Katie Says:

    Hi there

    I too cut this one out of the paper and have made it a few times and it’s delicious… the only thing I couldn’t really work out is what do you do with the chopped nuts you have set aside? The recipe only says to stir in the ground nuts. I sprinkle the chopped nuts on top after pouring the mixture into the tin, but I don’t know if this is right…

    What do you think?


  3. sarah Says:

    Hi Katie,
    I usually fold the chopped nuts in just before the egg whites here, with the chocolate and other ingredients. It gives the cake a really nice colour throughout and texture when cut. But I imagine sprinkled on top would work well too, studded with pinky greens, but does it affect the shape when rising? I’ll give it a try.
    Thanks so much for your comment! We love hearing from everyone!

  4. Nadia Says:

    making this now xo

  5. Em Says:

    This was the best cake ever…EVER!

  6. Gen Says:

    I made this for jakes birthday yesterday.. served with some fresh very-out-of-season strawberries. It was delicious. I wish I had some leftover for my afternoon tea but it all got eaten. You guys are the best. xx

  7. sarah Says:

    I was just in south-east QLD and its strawberry season there almost Gen. Strawberries seem to love late ‘winter’ up there. There used to be a strawberry festival in August where the winds would whip at everyone’s strawberries and cream on a white plastic plate. Now all the strawberry farms are filled with houses.
    I’m glad it has worked for you all too!

  8. Karen Says:

    This recipe is from the Chef Tobie Puttock. I have made it too and it is great. I find it best when it is completely cooled and even when put in the fridge.
    cheers Karen

  9. Juliette Says:

    This has become one of my favourite cakes to make. It’s perfect to have as a dessert or even something to have with tea, and every time I make it for my family they’re always impressed. It’s so simple to make too, I swear you can’t go wrong with this one. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  10. Corry garam Says:

    This recipe looks divine. I haven’t made it yet, but after reading your lovely blog, will do so in the near future. The recipe is indeed by Tobie Puttock, but comes from the Sun Herald
    Sunday October 26, 2008. All the best with your ventures!

  11. Judi G Says:

    Have just made taken this cake out of the oven..did everyone else use a 25 cm tin? Mine is only a couple of cms high.

  12. sarah Says:

    Oh NO! Im sorry to hear this, do you think it was the egg whites? Hm. We are travelling at the moment but I will try to check the recipe as soon as we hit our kitchen. Thanks so much for your comment. Sarah

  13. Judi G Says:

    Luckily it was still delish!

  14. sappho Says:

    made this tonight for a dinner party! had saved the sunday life article but couldnt find it and trusty google linked me to you!
    this cake is awesome and all the guests were suitably impressed!!!

  15. Bhakthi Says:

    Also had this ripped out from Sunday Life, but seem to have lost it. Made it for the second time yesterday for a mate’s birthday. Many many compliments. It’s just the best cake — thanks guys. PS. served with strawbs and cream is the only way!

  16. Julianamd Says:

    Thanks for the recipe, I ripped it out of the Sunday Age too and made it for my Mum ‘s birthday. Such a great cake. I am sure my husband threw out the recipe in a crazy tidy up. Happy to be reunited with it.

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