Pistachio, Cardamom and Polenta Cake Recipe

Servings: 8

Time: 1hr

Diet: Veg

Pistachio, Cardamom and Polenta Cake Recipe

An elegant dessert

This recipe calls for a little more time and effort, but it pays off. The fragrant, nutty sponge is infused with Casa Rinaldi’s Italian olive oil, seasoned with lemon to enhance the lemon zest and juice in the batter. The mixture of pistachios, polenta and caster sugar gives the cake a subtle sweetness, and the side of cream, yoghurt or crème fraiche adds moisture and balance to the flavours.

Fun fact: Pistachios are one of the oldest flowering nut trees. Also, pistachios and other nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts are regularly used in Italian cooking.

What is polenta?

An Italian pantry staple, polenta hails from northern Italy. It is made from ground corn, which gives it the flour-like texture. It also has a rich yellow colour and a slightly sweet taste. Polenta is an extremely versatile ingredient – it can be used as a flour substitute in cakes or as a replacement for starchy foods like pasta, rice, or potatoes, making it a great gluten-free choice.

Fun fact: the word ‘polenta’ comes from the Latin word meaning ‘peeled barley’.


Make it dairy-free

Adapt this recipe easily with dairy-free butter and plant-based yoghurts.


175ml Casa Rinaldi Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Lemon

200g shelled pistachios

8 cardamom pods

100g polenta

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

50g butter

3 medium eggs

200g caster sugar

1 lemon, zest and juice

Crème fraiche or Greek yoghurt to serve (optional, vegan alternatives can be used)

Cooking method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a 23cm round baking tin with parchment paper.

Quick tip: a loose-bottom tin will make it easier to take the cake out later.

2. On a separate tray, place the pistachios and roast them in the oven for 3 minutes until fragrant. Remove and set aside to cool.

3. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the cardamom pods to loosen the shells. Discard the shells and grind the remainder into a fine powder.

Quick tip: if you don’t have a pestle and mortar at home, you can use the bottom of a cup or glass to crush the cardamom pods.

Fun fact: cardamom is one of the oldest spices in the world and has been used for over 4,000 years, and comes from the ginger family with its sweet and spicy taste.

4. Tip the pistachios and cardamom powder into a food processor and pulse until combined. Pour the pistachio and cardamom mix into a large mixing bowl, then add the polenta and bicarbonate of soda. Mix until evenly combined.

5. Place the butter and oil into a small saucepan and melt on a low heat. Be sure not to let it boil.

6. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add the butter and oil mixture and whisk gently until fully combined. Gently fold in the pistachio and polenta mixture. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and mix to combine.

7. Transfer the mixture into the lined baking tin and bake in the oven for 45-50min. The cake should rise into a golden sponge, and a skewer should come out clean when inserted into the centre. If it’s not quite cooked through, place the cake back in the oven for an extra 5-10 minutes.

8. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool. Serve with a side of crème fraiche or Greek yoghurt.

Watch the video below to follow the recipe along with our Real Italiano chef: