Serve this wonderful luxury cake on the day of baking or make it the day ahead; either way, it’s pretty darn good. There’s just enough coconut for you to know it’s there, but not so much that it overpowers the tangy lime and nutty pistachio. Drizzled with just enough syrup to moisten the cake without drowning it and making it heavy, and accompanied by gently softened, lime-infused berries and a spoonful of cool fromage frais or crème fraîche, it’s just as good served as a pudding as it is with afternoon tea.
If you happen to find a bottle of pistachio oil in your local deli, then grab it and use it in this recipe. It has a wonderful nutty flavour and aroma that hits you the moment you unscrew the cap. I try also to use nibbed pistachios, which have had their purple skins removed. They are available from Middle Eastern supermarkets and specialist online food suppliers.
For the cake
75g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
75ml olive or pistachio oil
175g shelled unsalted pistachios
50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
125g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
4 medium eggs
225g caster sugar
finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed limes
3 rounded tablespoons soured cream
For the syrup
freshly squeezed juice of 3 limes
5 tablespoons agave syrup or mild-tasting clear honey
3 tablespoons caster sugar
natural fromage frais, creme fraiche or greek yogurt, to serve
23cm springform cake tin
Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3. Grease the tin and line the base with baking parchment.
Melt the butter with the olive or pistachio oil in a small saucepan over a low heat. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
Whizz the pistachios in a food processor until they are very finely chopped. Add the coconut, flour, baking powder and salt and whizz for no more than 10 seconds, just to combine. Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar on medium–high speed until they are very thick and pale, trebled in volume and leave a ribbon trail when the whisk is lifted from the bowl. Gently fold in the lime zest and pistachio mixture using a large metal spoon, then fold in the butter mixture and soured cream. Pour into the tin, spread level and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40–50 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Meanwhile, prepare the syrup. In a small saucepan, bring the lime juice, agave syrup or honey, sugar and 200ml of cold water to the boil. Continue to bubble steadily until reduced by half and syrupy.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully run an off-set palette knife around the edge of the cake to release the sides from the tin. Using the wooden skewer, make holes all over the top of the cake while it is still in the tin, then either slowly drizzle or carefully brush half the syrup all over the warm cake. Set aside until completely cold.
Tip the berries into the remaining syrup and return to a low heat for a couple of minutes to slightly soften them. Remove from the heat, spoon into a bowl and leave to cool.
Serve the cake in slices with fromage frais, crème fraîche or Greek yogurt and the berry compote spooned over.