How Pretty Is Belinda Jeffery’s Pistachio and Lime Syrup Cake?

Pistachio and lime syrup cake, from In Belinda’s Kitchen: Essential Recipes.
Pistachio and lime syrup cake, from In Belinda’s Kitchen: Essential Recipes. © Rodney Weidland

Belinda Jeffery lives on the north coast of New South Wales and it is the markets and produce of that bountiful region that informs and inspires the dishes she cooks. A cookery writer and teacher, and hugely popular on Instagram, she has a reputation for creating foolproof, uncomplicated, mouth-watering recipes that don’t require anything particularly special in the way of ingredients.

Jeffery has written a swag of books over the years and one of the comments heard most often about her writing style is that you feel as though she is standing beside you in the kitchen as you cook.

It’s a comment that warms her heart, and it’s easy to feel that guiding hand in her latest book, In Belinda’s Kitchen: Essential Recipes (published by Simon & Schuster Australia) for these are the recipes that are particularly dear to her – the recipes from family, friends and colleagues she has worked with. “The recipes in it are those of my history,” she says.

Jeffery had a lot of fun picking the eyes out of an earlier book, Collected Recipes, which in turn was a combination of her first two books released in 2000 and 2002. Jeffery had poured her heart and soul into the books and they clearly resonated with readers for when Collected Recipes went out of print in 2017 she continued to receive frequent requests.

Belinda Jeffery writes from her home on the north coast of New South Wales.
Belinda Jeffery writes from her home on the north coast of New South Wales.

Not surprisingly, Jeffery’s cooking has evolved over the years. “I might add more spice here, less sugar there, use a slightly lighter hand, or an ingredient that just wasn’t widely available back then.” Some of the recipes in this new release have therefore had a “polish”, and there are some new recipes as well. But, she says, “these are the recipes I make time and again, and it gives me so much joy to see them ready to come back out into the world.”

The recipe for this lovely, tangy Pistachio and lime syrup cake was given to Jeffery by food writer and cooking teacher Elise Pascoe. Jeffery has made it time and time again. “The original version was made with lemons; however, as our lime trees are such bountiful providers for so much of the year I tend to make it with limes instead,” she says.

“It’s a gorgeous, simple cake: light, tangy and so eye-catching with its mantel of pistachios and pale-green hue. In season, translucent beads of pomegranate look extraordinarily beautiful scattered over the cake, giving it a mysterious, exotic quality.”

Buy your copy of  In Belinda’s Kitchen from Australian-owned Booktopia.

In Belinda’s Kitchen: Essential Recipes.

Pistachio and lime syrup cake with pomegranate seeds

Serves 6 to 8

60g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g pistachios, finely ground
finely grated zest of 3 large limes
120g almond meal
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g caster sugar
4 × 60g eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup (80g) pomegranate seeds, to decorate, optional
rich cream or thick Greek-style yoghurt, to serve

Syrup and topping:

90g caster sugar
½ cup (125ml) fresh lime juice (from about 3 large limes), strained
90g pistachios, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 170°C. Butter a 22 to 24cm round cake tin, line the base with buttered baking paper then dust the tin with flour.

Tip the flour, baking powder, ground pistachios, lime zest and almond meal into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk them together with a balloon whisk for a minute or so, then set the bowl aside.

Put the butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer (or use a hand-held electric beater) and beat them on medium speed for about 4 minutes, stopping and scraping down the sides occasionally, until the mixture looks creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, allowing each egg to be absorbed before adding the next. (Don’t worry if the mixture looks a little curdled after adding the last egg – it will come together again when you add the dry ingredients.) Tip in the flour mixture and mix everything together on low speed until it is just combined – be careful not to over-mix it, or the cake may be a bit tough. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until it springs back when lightly pressed in the centre and a fine skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer it to a wire rack and leave it to cool a little in the tin.

When the cake is lukewarm, make the syrup. To do this, put the sugar and lime juice into a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the chopped pistachios, increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil.

Turn the cake out onto a serving plate and peel away the baking paper. Slowly spoon the hot pistachio and lime syrup evenly over the top, then leave the cake to cool completely.

Just before serving, scatter it with pomegranate seeds, if using. Serve with softly whipped cream or yoghurt.

A note about the pistachios: to grind them, I pulse them in the food processor with a tablespoon of flour from the recipe, as the flour helps prevent them becoming oily and forming a paste. Nonetheless, you do have to be watchful as they can go from being perfectly chopped to pasty in the blink of an eye.

Recipe and image from: In Belinda’s Kitchen: Essential Recipes by Belinda Jeffery. Food photography © Rodney Weidland, Illustrations © Daniel New. Published by Simon & Schuster Australia and reproduced with the publisher’s permission.

**Enjoy many more delicious recipes from our Food Wine Travel files here.**

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