Servings: Serves 12–16
Note: This recipe is for a classic, one-tiered layer cake.
To make cake: Preheat oven to 325°. Spread pistachios on rimmed baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes, until lightly toasted. Let cool.
Grease 3 (8" x 2") round cake pans with butter or cooking spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Grease paper and dust pans with flour, tapping out excess.
In a food processor, pulse 1/3 cup pistachios until chopped. Remove and set aside for garnish. Pulse remaining 1 cup pistachios until chopped; remove 2 tablespoons and set aside in a medium bowl. Process remaining pistachios just until finely ground to a powder. Sift cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into the bowl with the 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios. Stir in pistachio powder.
In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, scraping bowl, about 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. With mixer on low speed, beat in eggs one at a time until well blended. Beat in flour mixture, in 3 additions, alternating with the cold water, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until blended, scraping bowl; then beat batter 15 more seconds. Scrape into a large bowl.
In a stand mixer with whisk attachment (and a clean bowl), beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. With mixer on medium-high speed, add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat just until soft peaks form; do not over beat. With a large rubber spatula, gently fold whites into batter just until no white streaks remain. Divide batter between prepared pans and gently spread evenly. Stagger pans on oven racks so pans are not directly above one another. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean. Transfer pans to wire racks and let cool 20 minutes. Run a knife around sides and turn cakes out onto racks. Remove parchment paper. Flip cakes again and let cool completely.
To make buttercream: In a heavy, medium saucepan, whisk sugar and flour until well blended. Add milk and cream and whisk until smooth. Set pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 12 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let cool completely, about 1 hour.
In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in cream-flour mixture, about 1/3 cup at a time, beating until blended with butter. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in honey and vanilla. Refrigerate until buttercream holds its shape and is thick enough to spread, about 20 minutes.
To assemble cake: Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread top with 1 cup buttercream. Repeat with another cake layer and 1 cup buttercream. Add last cake layer, top-side up. Spread sides and top of cake with about 3/4 cup buttercream to crumb coat. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Frost with remaining buttercream. Garnish cake with reserved chopped pistachios. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes before serving; cake can be refrigerated up to 3 days. If cake is refrigerated for more than 15 minutes, let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving.
From the May 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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