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A slice of orange pistachio cake.

Orange Pistachio Layer Cake

Heather Smoke
Soft and fluffy orange cake, layered with homemade pistachio butter and frosted with fluffy pistachio buttercream. Garnish the cake with chopped salted pistachios and candied orange peel.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16


  • 8-inch cake pans (x3)
  • Food Processor
  • Stand Mixer with Whisk Attachment


Pistachio Butter

  • 1 cup shelled, salted or unsalted pistachios
  • coarse Kosher salt, if needed

Orange Cake

  • 1 recipe Orange Cake

Pistachio Buttercream

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp meringue powder
  • tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup pistachio butter


  • 2 tbsp finely chopped pistachios
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped candied orange peel (or a little fresh orange zest)


Pistachio Butter

  • Measure the pistachios into a food processor. Process the nuts until they smooth out into a creamy paste, similar in texture to peanut butter. This step will take about 10 minutes, and you should run your food processor for about 30 seconds at a time, scraping down the sides frequently, and letting the motor rest for a few seconds before you run it again.
  • When the pistachio butter is ready, scrape it into a jar and refrigerate until needed. If needed, add a little salt to taste.
  • You can make the pistachio butter up to 1 week in advance, and store in the refrigerator.

Orange Cake

  • Prepare and bake 1 recipe for Orange Cake in three 8-inch cake pans. This cake is very soft, fluffy and delicate, so handle the baked cake layers with care. Line the cake pans with circles of parchment paper and nonstick spray to ensure easy release.
  • Cool the cakes completely in the pans, before removing them to frost and decorate your cake.
  • You can make the cakes in advance, wrap each layer individually in plastic wrap and store at room temperature overnight, or freeze them for 3-6 months.

Pistachio Buttercream

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute until smooth.
  • With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar, meringue powder and salt, mixing until combined, but thick and clumpy.
  • Add the vanilla and pistachio butter. Increase the speed to medium (4-6) on a Kitchen Aid mixer, and whip for 4-5 minutes, scraping the bowl several times, until very light and fluffy. Turn the speed down to "stir" and mix for 1 more minute, to get rid of any large air bubbles.


  • Place one of the cooled cake layers on a cake board or cake pedestal. Spread the cake with a thin layer of pistachio butter (3-4 tablespoons), then spread with a layer of the pistachio buttercream. Add the next cake layer, and repeat with more pistachio butter and buttercream. Place the last cake on top.
  • Frost the cake all over with a thin crumb coat of buttercream, then chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Keep the remaining buttercream covered while the cake is chilling.
  • Frost the cake all over with a final coat of buttercream. If you like, fit a piping bag with a large tip, such as 6B, and pipe decorative swirls of buttercream on top of the cake.
  • Sprinkle the top of the cake with the chopped pistachios and candied orange peel. If you don't have candied orange peel, you can grate about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest on top.


Recipe for Candied Orange Peel
Store the leftover cake in an airtight container or cake carrier for up to 3 days.
Keyword Cake, Orange, Pistachio