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4.93 from 51 votes

Lemon Pistachio Cake

Lemon pistachio cake layers with lemon curd filling, pistachio cream filling, and lemon pistachio cream cheese buttercream.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake
Keyword: Advanced, Lemon, Lemon curd, Lemon Pistachio, Lemon Pistachio Cake, Pistachio, Pistachio Cake



  • 3 cups (345 g) cake flour
  • 3/4 cup (115 g) finely ground pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon (10 g) baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon (9 g) lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 5 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice


  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon (4.5 g) grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 to 2 large lemons
  • 1 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons (28.25 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the Pistachio Cream Filling

  • 1 cup (150 g) shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 3/4 cup (180 g) whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (28.25 g) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon (12.50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (240 g) heavy whipping cream


  • 1 1/2 cups (339 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar, measured then sifted
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) finely ground pistachios, this takes about 1/2 cup ground up pistachios that have been sifted through a mesh sieve.
  • 2 tablespoons (16.2 g) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon (4.5 g) lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping you’ll want to make an extra 1/2 batch. However, because it is a cream cheese buttercream, I don’t recommend using it for piping.



  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray, line the bottoms with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
  • In a medium size bowl, whisk together the cake flour, pistachios, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until the texture is lighter in color and smooth in texture.
  • With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the egg whites. Make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions. When all of the egg whites are added, turn your mixer to medium-high speed and beat the batter for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. At this point, the texture should be smooth and the mixture should have nearly doubled in volume.
  • As the batter mixes, combine the buttermilk and lemon juice.
  • With the mixer on low speed on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk mixture to the butter mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all the batter has been incorporated. Stir for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Divide batter evenly in the two pans, about 25 to 26 ounces of batter in each 8-inch pan.
  • Bake the cakes until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs inserted into the center, about 35 minutes. Let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes before inverting them onto cooling racks to cool completely.
  • Once the layers are cooled completely, carefully divide the cake layers in half horizontally, creating two thin layers from each cake.


  • Whisk the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the whole eggs and yolks in a small bowl and then whisk them into the lemon mixture.
  • Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it's thick like pudding, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, a few pieces at a time until incorporated.
  • Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pushing it through with a rubber spatula. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely set, at least 4 hours and up to 5 days.

For the Pistachio Cream Filling

  • In a medium size saucepan, heat about 2 cups of water to a soft boil and add the shelled pistachios. Boil the pistachios for about 3 minutes, drain the pistachios and spread on a clean kitchen towel.
  • Fold the towel over and rub the pistachios in the towel to loosen the skins. Discard as much of the skins as you can. I know it’s tedious, so it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • Combine the pistachios, 1/4 cup of the milk and the sugar in a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients create a smooth paste.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining milk, butter and white chocolate chips. Heat on low, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted.
  • In a high powdered blender, combine the pistachio paste and white chocolate mixer. Blend until smooth and creamy. If you need to adjust the consistency, you can add a couple splashes of milk.
  • Let the pistachio mousse reach room temperature before folding in the heavy whipping cream.
  • For the heavy whipping cream: In a stainless steel bowl, beat the heavy whipping cream with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold the whipped cream into the pistachio mousse.


  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese for about one minute.
  • With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the sifted powdered sugar, followed by the pistachios, lemon zest, lemon juice, heavy whipping cream and pinch of salt.
  • Turn the mixer on medium-high speed and beat for about 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • Remove the bowl from the mixer and mix the frosting by hand with a wooden spoon to push out any air bubbles.

For the Assembly

  • Reminder, each of the two 8-inch cake layers should be divided in half, horizontally, giving you FOUR thin cake layers.
  • Place the first cake layer, top side up, in the center of a cake board or cake stand.
  • Spread about 1 cup of the pistachio cream filling over the cake layer, making sure to get eye level with the cake to ensure the filling is spread evenly.
  • Place the second cake layer on top of the cream filling. Spread about 1/2 cup of the buttercream over the cake. Pipe a rim of buttercream around the edge of the cake.
  • Fill the center with about 1/4-1/3 cup lemon curd, reserving leftover curd to use on top of the cake or to serve with each slice of cake.
  • Place the third cake layer on top of the lemon curd and spread another cup of pistachio cream filling over the cake.
  • Top with the final cake layer, top side down.
  • Apply a thin layer of buttercream around the entire cake to create a crumb coat. Freeze the cake for about 10 to 15 minutes to set the crumb coat and lock the crumbs in place.
  • Continue frosting the cake with the remaining buttercream and top with pistachios, lemons, and/or extra lemon curd.