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Lemon Pistachio Pound Cake

The emerald of the south, Italian pistachios are grown and harvested in the countryside of Bronte, a Sicilian town where the black ashy soil from Mt. Etna creates fertile terrain for the most expensive variety of the pistachio family. Many Southern Italian dishes utilize the nearby abundance and availability of the Bronte pistachio, adding a rich, nutty flavor to starchy dishes and even many desserts. Mimi Thorisson’s pistachio and lemon pound cake from her Old World Italian recipe book perfectly balances the smooth, earthy flavor of Bronte pistachios with a zesty kick from the widely celebrated Sicilian lemon.


  • 12 tablespoons/ 180g unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup/ 200g granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup/ 145g whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons/ 250g all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup/ 90g pistachio flour (see note)
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ cup/ 60g pistachio paste (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped unsalted pistachios
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/ 180°C. Grease a 9 x 5-inch / 23 x 12cm loaf pan with butter.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the granulated sugar and butter with a whisk until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the yogurt and mix. Add the all-purpose flour, pistachio flour, two-thirds of the lemon zest, and the baking powder. Mix gently. Stir in the pistachio paste. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a long skewer or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then place onto a rack.
  4. Garnish with the chopped pistachios, remaining lemon zest, and a dusting of powdered sugar and serve.

Note: If you can’t find pistachio flour, process 3 ounces of shelled, unsalted pistachios in a food processor. If you also can’t find pistachio paste, process 1 ½ cups of pistachio flour with a few splashes of water until smooth.

Pair all three dishes together for a traditional Italian meal bursting with all the flavors of the Mezzogiorno region where food is at the very core of southern pride. Mangia bene, kick back with some vino, and enjoy.

Mila Groen