Raspberry Pistachio Cake {gluten-free}

This Raspberry Pistachio Cake is beautifully moist and fragrant. Pistachios are blended into a paste as the basis of the sponge and a handful of raspberries are baked into the batter. Finally a tangy raspberry icing is drizzled over the top with fresh raspberries and pistachios to scatter.

Raspberry Pistachio Cake sitting on a cake stand on a wooden table

I went to a birthday party recently where the cake had to be wheat, egg and dairy free due to the birthday boy’s elimination diet. The mum who had baked the cake was very proud that she had produced a cake which adhered to this strict criteria whilst also being ‘edible’ (her words not mine).

I also read on our community forum a complaint about our local farmer’s market that they only have a free-from cake stall there (not my cake stall as I’m still on maternity leave). The complaint went on to say that although she hadn’t tried any of the cakes from this cake stall, in her opinion gluten-free and vegan cakes are inferior products, the market was only pandering to current trends and that she would only return to the market when they had a good cake stall.

Raspberry Pistachio Cake sitting on a cake stand on a wooden table

It’s sad to me that gluten-free (and vegan) cakes have such a terrible reputation and mostly they are assumed to be inedible and inferior to wheat based cakes. I was a baker long before I became gluten-free and it’s true that when baking free-from cakes it is more difficult to achieve a delicious, beautifully textured and visually lovely cake than if you were using wheat flour. So yes, there are some poor gluten-free cakes out there and believe me I have eaten them. However, I pride myself on my commitment to my craft and unfortunately in my cake research I have also tried many terrible wheat based cakes. The same pitfalls of dry, overly sweet or compacted crumb can affect any cake. I have been baking exclusively gluten-free cakes for a few years now and am constantly learning new techniques for using alternative flours where results can rival and often surpass wheat cakes. Basically, like any baking, it’s all about the top quality ingredients you use. The better the butter, sugar, eggs and flour, the better the cake. You also need a good recipe and this is where I hope my blog can help.

Raspberry Pistachio Cake sitting on a cake stand on a wooden table

I am on maternity leave at the moment and am in a state of flux in my career. I love doing the cake stall and besides bringing money in on the day it’s great to do to generate further business for cake commissions. People know I’m out there and it take me back into the world and out of my kitchen. However, the cake stall also steals me away from my young family. The precious weekends when Luke isn’t working and we could spend time together with our children are the times I thrust myself back into work.

Sliced Raspberry Pistachio Cake sitting on a cake stand on a wooden table

One of my most important reasons to return to the cake stall is to continue to prove to everyone that gluten-free and vegan cakes can be absolutely delicious if they are baked correctly using the best ingredients and excellent recipes. It gives me a reach beyond the blog and social media. It’s kind of like a personal quest and it is thrilling to me that my regular customers are not all gluten-free, coeliac or vegan. They return time and time again because the cakes taste good.

A cut Raspberry Pistachio Cake sitting on a cake stand on a wooden table

Not every cake I bake is a success first time, a lot of them require a bunch of tweaking at the development stage before I’m happy to share them with the world but every single cake I publish on this blog and sell on my cake stall stands shoulder to shoulder with wheat cakes. Gluten-free cakes (and the few vegan cakes I do) are not pretenders to the throne but are their own unique product with their own identity. Cake is my most favourite thing in the world, I am extremely fussy about the quality of the cake I eat so if I couldn’t eat good cake because of my food intolerances then I would be a very unhappy person.

A slice of Raspberry Pistachio Cake on a white plate with a fork on a wooden table in front of a cake stand with cake on it

This Raspberry Pistachio Cake is an ideal example of how you can achieve the most glorious moist, evenly textured but not dense cake using a plain gluten-free flour blend that you can get in any supermarket. I don’t use any xanthan gum in my baking as it doesn’t agree with me but you don’t need these highly processed and hard to digest gums to bake an excellent gluten-free cake. To achieve the perfect texture in my gluten-free Raspberry Pistachio Cake I used pistachio nuts which I ground into a paste and used that as the basis for my sponge along with the gluten-free plain flour.

To read more about how to use nuts as an alternative flour do visit my post here.

Raspberry Pistachio Cake sitting on a cake stand on a wooden table

I was a little stingy I think here with the raspberries baked into the sponge, so feel free to add more if you really want to pack those raspberries in. However, the raspberry flavour is still very punchy due to the zingy raspberry icing made with fresh raspberry puree and the mountain of raspberries piled on top of the cake.

This cake is a wonderful gluten-free cake, made with easy ingredients that you can buy at any local supermarket. I think it’s proof that it’s easy to make gluten-free cakes not just edible but absolutely delicious just as long as you know where to look for the recipe.

Oh, that’s here by the way.

A slice of Raspberry Pistachio Cake on a white plate on a wooden table

Print Recipe
Raspberry Pistachio Cake {gluten-free}
This Raspberry Pistachio Cake is beautifully moist and fragrant. Pistachios are blended into a paste as the basis of the sponge and a handful of raspberries are baked into the batter. Finally a tangy raspberry icing is drizzled over the top with fresh raspberries and pistachios to scatter.
Raspberry Pistachio Cake sitting on a cake stand on a wooden table
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
12 people
Ingredients
For the pistachio paste:
  • 110 g pistachios + 15g extra for decoration
  • 110 g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
For the cake:
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 210 g caster sugar
  • 210 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 5 eggs
  • 150 g gluten-free plain flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 120 g raspberries + 75g extra for decoration
For the raspberry icing:
  • 100 g raspberries
  • 150 g icing sugar
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
12 people
Ingredients
For the pistachio paste:
  • 110 g pistachios + 15g extra for decoration
  • 110 g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
For the cake:
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 210 g caster sugar
  • 210 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 5 eggs
  • 150 g gluten-free plain flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 120 g raspberries + 75g extra for decoration
For the raspberry icing:
  • 100 g raspberries
  • 150 g icing sugar
Raspberry Pistachio Cake sitting on a cake stand on a wooden table
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line and grease an 8 inch cake tin.
  2. First make the pistachio paste by placing the pistachios in a food processor and blitzing until finely ground. Add the caster sugar, golden syrup, vanilla extract and egg white and blitz again until a paste has formed. Set aside for one moment.
  3. Place the lemon zest in a food mixer along with the sugar and whisk for a minute together until fragrant.
  4. Add the butter, one cube at a time and beat on high until light and fluffy.
  5. Scrape the pistachio paste into the creamed butter and sugar and beat until combined.
  6. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down after each addition.
  7. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add it to the rest of the batter until just combined.
  8. Finally stir in the raspberries.
  9. Pour into the cake tin, smoothing the top then bake for 60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Remove from the tin then leave to cool completely before icing.
Raspberry Icing
  1. Place the raspberries in a medium sized saucepan and heat gently until the raspberries have broken down into pulp.
  2. Sieve the raspberry pulp, discarding the seeds.
  3. Mix the raspberry puree with the icing sugar until a thick icing has formed and spoon onto the cooled cake, pushing the icing gently over the side so it forms droplets. Leave the icing to set for at least an hour
  4. Pile the extra raspberries on top of the cake
  5. Finely chop the extra pistachios and scatter over the top of the cake.
Recipe Notes

*I use Doves Farm Gluten-Free Plain White Flour which is really easy to find in almost any UK supermarket.

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The cake tins I always use are these PME Anodised Aluminium Round Cake Pan 8 x 4-Inch Deep which are wonderful as they have completely straight sides so your cakes will be beautifully neat, the anodised aluminium means the heat disperses evenly throughout the cake without cooking the sides too quickly, which some darker cake tins do. The cakes slip out of the tins easily and they come in all the sizes you would need, although typically I use the 8 inch tins.

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If you like this cake then you might like these other cakes:

Singing with citrusy aromatic flavour this gluten-free Blueberry Basil Lemon Drizzle Loaf is a showstopper of an everyday teatime cake.

Blueberry Basil Lemon Drizzle

This gluten-free Golden Beetroot Carrot Cake is the best carrot cake you will ever taste. Full of sweet earthy goodness thanks to using both golden beetroot and carrots; complex with pecans, sultanas and apples; perfectly complimented with a not too sweet cream cheese buttercream and adorned with the delightful crunch of a salted pecan praline and candied beetroot and carrots.

Golden Beetroot Carrot Cake

Picnic Slice

Picnic Slice basically lives up to its name, a perfectly portable treat to slip into your picnic basket for days out. Naturally gluten-free by eschewing all flour and focusing on its coconut macaroon-like tendencies, these are light, packed with fruit and nuts and covered in plenty of chocolate.

Stack of Picnic Slices on a chopping board on a wooden table

When the weather is good, the inclination to picnic is ever so tempting. I have romantic notions of a tartan rug strewn politely across lush grass, an iced bucket housing a chilling fizz, bountiful strawberries, an array of carefully curated salads fresh with herbs and leaves. Perhaps a roasted chicken takes centre stage, with carefully carved slices fanned out on delicate china. I might have been influenced by a little too much Merchant Ivory.

Picnic Slice on a chopping board

The reality of picnics of course, especially in the UK, is laughably different. First off, if you are not dissuaded by the ominous clouds which will no doubt appear as soon as the magic words of picnic are uttered then really you’ve won half the battle. But there are also other little reminders of reality that can dispel your dreamy idyll.

• The rug is always forgotten, meaning a damp bum is inevitable.
• Picnic tables are a much better bet but if you find a free one on a particularly sunny day then it’s probably because it’s covered in bird poo.
• Cutlery always seems an afterthought, I usually end up eating my picnic with Cole’s plastic spoons having been unable to cobble together anything more civilised for the adults.
• There are no highchairs so toddlers are fully able to leap down off picnic benches without eating anything more than a chocolate biscuit and run off to chase the nearest squirrel.
• Or if you’re on the ground the same toddler will happily launch themselves across the rug towards the crisps, splattering houmous everywhere and squashing the sausage rolls.
• Plus on a slightly more personal bugbear picnics are just a little more of a bother if you’re gluten-free since you can’t just throw together an acceptable ham sandwich or do an M&S sweep of mini samosas and pork pies. Usually more time in the kitchen is in order which really puts the kibosh on impromptu picnic experiences.
• And if you really want to quibble with these lazy hazy summer days then fizz in the sun is the surest way to serve up hangovers to accompany the journey home.

Picnic Slice on a chopping board on a wooden table

Still we soldier on as visiting National Trust properties or a day trip to the zoo just isn’t the same without a picnic break. With our picnics I usually keep it simple with my standard Coronation Chicken Salad and of course a generous helping of cake.

I love a portable cake, something you can wrap in foil, tuck into a coolbag and it still look the business when you unwrap it a couple of hours later.

Picnic Slice on a plate on a wooden table

I found this recipe for Picnic Slice in an absolute gem of a cookbook called The Classic 1000 Cake and Bake Recipes. It was given to me as a secret santa gift a million years ago and it has an absolute treasure trove of quick, easy homestyle bakes that can be slammed together in no time. When leafing through it the other day for something fun and easy to make that Cole could get involved with this Picnic Slice caught my eye. I loved the name and was thrilled when I saw that the recipe contained no flour whatsoever so is the perfect naturally gluten-free bake. Although as I write this I can see my fatal error as I didn’t actually cut the cake into slices but bars instead. I’m sure no one will notice.

The finished result was a little bit like a glorified coconut macaroon but with more nuts and dried fruit going on. I added pistachios to the original recipe which was definitely a good idea. It is also pretty excellent for showing off your Homemade Glacé Cherries should you be so inclined. Usually Cole can get a little bored by baking with mummy but the thrill of plucking the odd pistachio and glace cherry out of the bowl kept him entertained the whole time.

Picnic Slice on a chopping board

It was an odd recipe though, requiring you to pour the melted chocolate into the bottom of the cake tin, then dollop the coconut batter on top before baking it in the oven. Usually I wouldn’t put my melted chocolate back in the oven as it messes around with the temper of the chocolate too much and would lead to white streaks across a dull surface. This did kind of happen, especially after I chilled it in the fridge afterwards which I would definitely recommend so they retain a better structure. Plus they are pretty yummy cold.

I debated over changing the method slightly so the melted chocolate is drizzled over after the coconut layer has been baked but I did love the way that the chocolate wraps around and sort of soaks into the coconut layer beneath in the original recipe. Plus if you scatter across enough accoutrements over the surface of the Picnic Slice then the slightly streaky chocolate beneath isn’t a problem.

Picnic Slice on a plate on a wooden table

So here’s to the next picnic, of which our tried and tested Picnic Slice will definitely be a part of. Now we just have to hope for clear skies, a free clean table and a compliant toddler. At least the Picnic Slice doesn’t require cutlery.

Print Recipe
Picnic Slice
Naturally gluten-free, these treats are light, packed with fruit and nuts and covered in plenty of chocolate.
Stack of Picnic Slices on a chopping board on a wooden table
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
12 slices
Ingredients
  • 225 g dark chocolate
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 100 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 100 g desiccated coconut + 1 tablespoon for decoration
  • 75 g pistachios roughly chopped (+ a few roughly chopped for decoration)
  • 75 g sultanas
  • 75 g glace cherries roughly chopped (+ a few roughly for decoration)
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
12 slices
Ingredients
  • 225 g dark chocolate
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 100 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 100 g desiccated coconut + 1 tablespoon for decoration
  • 75 g pistachios roughly chopped (+ a few roughly chopped for decoration)
  • 75 g sultanas
  • 75 g glace cherries roughly chopped (+ a few roughly for decoration)
Stack of Picnic Slices on a chopping board on a wooden table
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C and line and grease an 8 inch square cake tin.
  2. Melt the chocolate with the salt in a bain marie or a glass bowl sitting over simmering water then pour into the bottom of the cake tin. Leave to rest whilst you prepare the batter.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined.
  5. Then tip in the coconut, pistachios, sultanas, cherries and again beat until the batter has come together.
  6. Pour the batter evenly over the chocolate.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Leave the Picnic Slice in the tin for 10 minutes to set a little then carefully remove, turn upside down so the chocolate is on the top and set onto a wire rack.
  9. Scatter the extra pistachios, coconut and cherries over the top then leave to cool to room temperature.
  10. Store the Picnic Slice in the for at least 4 hours to completely chill before cutting into bars.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from The Classic 1000 Cake and Bake Recipes, by Wendy Hobson

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I see they still stock Classic 1000 Cake & Bake Recipes (Classic 1000 Cookbook) on Amazon which I would really recommend, there are few pictures but lots of little recipes that are so perfect to whip up for bake sales, take to pot lucks or school fetes.

I have had this KitchenCraft MasterClass Non-Stick Deep Square Cake Tin with Loose Base, 20 cm (8″) for years and it’s always served me really well. It has a loose base so ideal for removing more delicate bakes from the tin like this Picnic Slice which doesn’t really properly set until cool. I also use it for all my brownies for the same reason.

The images above are affiliate links which means if you decide you want to use these link to make your purchases then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. I will only recommend products I use in my kitchen and love. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

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