Rosewater Pistachio Cake

As soon as I saw this Rosewater Pistachio cake recipe appear on Masterchef I had to try it. This beautiful middle eastern cake came from the famed international chef, Yotam Ottolenghi. I love his recipes because they are absolutely packed with flavour, and this rosewater pistachio cake is no exception.

Finely crushed pistachio nuts are mixed in with aromatic cardamom spice, Rosewater and lemon. Even more  Rosewater and lemon are infused into the cake via a thorough drenching with warm syrup. A yoghurt and rosewater cream complements a slice of this cake perfectly.


Serves: 10-12 people        Difficulty: Easy


  • 23cm Springform tin
  • Electric mixer / stand mixer
  • Food processor
  • Small saucepan


Rosewater Pistachio Cake

  • 300g Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature
  • 330g Caster Sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
  • Seeds of 3 Cardamom Pods, or ½ teaspoon ground Cardamom
  • 150g Pistachios, shelled, finely ground in a food processor
  • 100g Almond Meal
  • 170g Semolina, fine grade
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 tablespoons quality Rosewater

Rosewater Syrup

  • 100ml fresh Lemon Juice
  • 80ml quality Rosewater
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 20g shelled Pistachios, roughly chopped (to decorate)

Rosewater Cream

  • 200g Greek Yoghurt
  • 200g Crème Fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon Icing Sugar Mixture
  • 1 tablespoon quality Rosewater


  • Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease the base and sides of the springform tin with non-stick spray, then line both the base and sides with baking paper.
  • Add the softened butter, caster sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat together on medium speed until the mixture is pale, thick and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Don’t worry if the batter looks like it has split at this stage. It will be ok. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the cardamom (seeds only, or ground cardamom), ground pistachios, almond meal, semolina, baking powder, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients gently into the batter.
  • Add the lemon juice and rosewater and gently fold together once more (the cake batter is quite thick).
  • Scoop the cake batter into the cake tin. Spread right to the edges of the pan and level the top.
  • Check the oven has reached the correct temperature. Place the cake tin on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 55-60 minutes. The cake is done when the top springs back when lightly touched in the centre. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out a bit oily but with no sticky crumbs attached.
  • About 10 minutes before the cake is done, prepare the warm rosewater syrup. Add the juice, rosewater and caster sugar to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, while stirring constantly. Once the syrup is boiling, remove it from the heat.
  • Remove cake from the oven and leave it the right way up in the cake pan. Immediately pour the warm syrup evenly over the cake. It might look like a lot of syrup, but it works out fine. Scatter chopped pistachios over the top. Leave the cake in the tin while it cools.
  • While the cake cools prepare the Rosewater cream: whisk together the yoghurt, crème Fraiche, icing sugar and rosewater until smooth. Set aside to chill in the fridge.
  • Serve the cake at room temperature with a spoon of Rosewater cream.

Recipe adapted from Pistachio and Rose Semolina Cake, by Yottam Ottolenghi.



  • This cake can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days. I found the cake tasted even better the day after it was made.
  • The rosewater syrup is not thick at all and does not need reducing over heat. It looks like a lot of syrup but it will all be absorbed into the cake.
  • Just before serving you can add rose petals to the cake. I have used fresh rose petals from the garden on my cake as pictures, but these are not edible!!! They are only for effect. You can candy your own rose petals providing they are food grade, or you can purchase them at speciality food stores. I found them quite expensive to buy though.