Marcella Hazan's Pistachio Olive Oil Cake

Here's another winner of a cake made with olive oil.

This simple cake from Marcella Hazan uses Marsala wine (I happened to have exactly 1/3 cup left in the bottle!) which makes it a bit more complex than most tea loaves.

This cake is best made the day before and stays moist all week wrapped tightly.
Perfect w/ tea or coffee (or some vin santo!).


Pistachio Olive Oil Cake (adapted from Serious Eats & Marcella Hazan's Essential Classic Italian Cooking):

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup olive oil (I use a mild flavored oil like Colavita)
1/3 cup dry Marsala wine
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shelled, dry-roasted, salted pistachios, finely chopped

Beat sugar and eggs on medium speed until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Add olive oil, Marsala, milk, and orange zest and beat until thoroughly combined, 1 to 2 minutes.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Lower speed to low and add flour mixture. Beat just until combined, about 1 minute, scraping the sides and bottom of bowl as necessary. Add pistachios and beat just until combined, about 30 seconds.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake in a 375F oven until cake tester inserted in middle of cake comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool cake in pan about 10 minutes, then turn over on rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.

I liked this cake better the second day, when the flavors had time to mellow.


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HI Stacey
I've never made a sweet cake using olive oil so I'll be trying this one.
And tomorrow evening, we have friends here, I intend to try your fig and frangipan tart - mmmmmmmm !!
Have a good weekend
Claudia said…
I have a close relationships with pistachios. But will need to buy double the amount needed so I can shell and eat... and shell... and eat. Oh yes.
Claudia said…
Hi Stacey,

This sounds wonderful! I wonder what might be an acceptable substitute for the Marsala wine? Sherry? Red wine? Vermouth? Your recommendations welcome. Thank you!
Stacey Snacks said…
Claudia #2,

Red wine or sherry would NOT be a good sub for the Marsala, since Marsala has such a distinctive sweet flavor........

Since it was such a small amount of wine used, substitute orange juice, that would probably be even more delicious with the pistachios.

Linda said…
I'm going to try this one Stacey. with Marsala, pistachios it's bounce to become one of my favorites.
Oui Chef said…
Marsala and Vin Santo, huh? Sounds like my kind of afternoon snack.
tasteofbeirut said…
I buy pistachios already peeled and shelled at the Middle-Eastern store so I would love to make this cake, bet it is moist and delicious.
Ben said…
This just a great concept from start to finish, Stacey. I try to do heart-healthy baking, so the use of olive oil here is wonderful. One question: when you mentioned using lightly flavored oil, are you referring to the second press kind?

Thanks for another great post.

Stacey Snacks said…
Hi Ben,

I use a mild flavored olive oil,such as Colavita's extra virgin from Italy. I don't use my good nutty full bodied oils from Sicily, or the flavor of the oil would overpower the cake.

lisa is cooking said…
I have a thing for pistachio cakes, and I've been fixated on tea cakes lately. So, this is perfect. Love the colors with the green nuts and orange zest too.
Joanne said…
Marcella is definitely a food genius. I would never ahve thought to put marsala in cake...but here it is, all beautiful-like!
Marsala in cake, why didn't I think of that?? Reading your blog is making me hungry!