sweet memories – pistachio baklava cake

sweet memories – pistachio baklava cake

I started this blog back in 2009 with the intention of sharing my love for food. I’ve never done a blogiversary, nor have I kept many stats.  Week after week, I just make desserts I like and share them. Occasionally, I get comments and emails about how much someone has enjoyed the recipes. Some have even made them for special occasions, like birthdays, gay pride celebrations, and even weddings. That kind of fan mail makes the weekly ritual of baking, writing, and taking photographs well worth it.

Among all my posts, the Pistachio Baklava Cake has been the most talked about and recreated recipe. This is the cake that a reader wrote to say she used it as her wedding cake. Who knew an experiment in my early days of blogging, using baklava as the cake filling, would connect with so many people?

Since the original recipe yielded a 6-inch cake and most people have asked for an 8 or 9-inch cake version, I decided to revise the recipe. I have also made slight revisions to amp up the flavors. Here’s to many more years of happy occasions and sweet memories.


Pistachio ‘Baklava’ Cake


Pistachio Cake
  • 4 cups Panko or regular bread crumbs (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) pistachios
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups (10-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, freshly grated
  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • Orange-Honey syrup, recipe to follow
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and ground, for decorating
Baklava Layer
  • 12 tablespoons (6 ounces/1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • Box of phyllo pastry, at least 32 sheets
  • 1-1/2 cups pistachio,toasted and ground
  • Orange-Honey syrup
Orange-Honey Syrup
  • 2-1/2 cups (17-1/2 ounces) of granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon rose water
  • 1 teaspoon orange flower water
  • Pistachio cake layers
  • Baklava layers
  • Orange Honey Syrup


Pistachio Cake

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350℉. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans; line each with a circle of parchment paper. Butter paper, and dust pans with flour; tap out excess. Set aside.

2. In a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, add panko, pistachio, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Process until finely chopped, set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk eggs, sugar and orange zest until thick and pale, about 6-8 minutes. The mixture should fall in a ribbon rather than a stream. Gently fold in nut mixture by hand with the whisk attachment. Add melted butter in a slow stream and continue to gently mix with whisk attachment until incorporated.

4. Divide batter into the prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 22-25 minutes. Remove cake pans and leave oven on. Cool cake on wire rack for 10 minutes, remove cake from pan and set it on cooling rack. Wash cake pans, to be used in baklava layers.

Baklava Layer

1. Unfold phyllo pastry, place an upside down cake pan on top as template and cut out circles. Cover phyllo with damp towel.

2. Brush both cleaned 9-inch round cake pans with melted butter. Place one sheet of phyllo in one pan, brush with melted butter and scatter ground pistachio (about 1 tablespoon) over the pastry and continue the layering and buttering for 7 more layers, ending with pastry layer. Repeat process with the second pan. Place both pans in oven and bake until golden brown and crisp on top. about 15-20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and cool for 5 minutes, then release baklava discs onto a parchment lined baking sheet, Brush each disc generously with syrup. Set aside to cool completely. Wipe both pans and repeat to make 2 more disc.

3. While the last two baklava layers are baking, roughly tear/chop up leftover phyllo into chards and brush generously with butter. Spread pastry chards on parchment lined baking sheet. When baklava are done, place baking sheet in oven and baking until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. (Keep a close eye towards the end to avoid burning the pastry.)

Orange-Honey Syrup

1. Combine sugar, water, lemon juice and orange zest in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until slightly thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in honey and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

2. Add orange flower water to warm syrup. Add more, a few drops at a time, to taste. (Flavor will mellow out after it sits for a while.)


1. Level top of the cakes with serrated knife to remove indent in the center of cake. Evenly divide each cake into two layers horizontally. Place one cake layer on cake stand or plate, brush top of cake generously with syrup. Place a layer of baklava on top of cake, brush top of baklava layer with syrup and top with second cake layer. Continue until you end with baklava layer on top.

2. Brush baklava layer with more syrup to make it sticky. Decorate top with baklava chards, press slightly to make sure they adhere to cake.

3. Sprinkle top of cake with toasted ground pistachio and let sit for 2 hours, before serving.