orange and pistachio cake (cake pesteh o porteghal)

orange and pistachio cake

one-bowl, quick and easy cake with only 5 major ingredients

prep: 10'
cook: 50'
8 large slices

Some time ago, with a number of guests on their way and no plan for dessert, I hastily baked this take on a butter cake. Adding a little Persian zing to the batter elevated it to a new level: doused in orange syrup and topped with orange zest and pistachio nuts, this impromptu dessert was a massive hit - and it has been my go-to last-minute dessert ever since.

ingredients for the cake

  • 225g (1 and 3⁄4 cups) plain flour
  • juice and zest of an orange - approximately 60ml (4 tbsp)
  • 5g (1 and 1⁄4 tsp) baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g (1 cup and 2 tbsp) caster sugar
  • a pinch of salt

ingredients for the syrup

  • juice and rind of 4 oranges approximately 250ml (1 cup) orange juice
  • 60g (1⁄2 cup) chopped pistachios
  • 125ml (1⁄2 cup) water
  • 150g (3⁄4 cup) caster sugar


  • grease or line a 23 cm (9 inch) cake tin
  • preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F
  • for the sponge, pour all the ingredients into a large bowl
  • beat for 4 minutes using an electric mixer
  • transfer into the tin
  • bake for 50 minutes or until it springs back to the touch and is lightly golden
  • to make the syrup, cut thin pieces of orange peel using an orange zester or a knife
  • try to cut it so as to have as little pith as possible, as this will impart a bitter flavour
  • boil the rinds for two minutes and strain
  • soak in cold water for 5 minutes
  • strain a second time and reserve
  • on a medium heat, simmer the sugar, orange juice and water for 5 minutes
  • turn off the heat
  • add the rind and the crushed pistachio nuts
  • set aside to cool
  • while the cake is hot and still in the tin, pour the cooled syrup on top, placing it in a dish to make sure the syrup doesn’t leak
  • set aside for 30 minutes for the syrup to soak in

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