Gluten Free Pistachio Cake with a Rose and Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

Is anyone else a big fan of the pistachio and lemon flavour combination? I just love it and am struggling to understand how it took me this long to do a cake along those lines.

I’m the person in my family who’s often tasked with making a cake for a family or friend’s birthday (unless it’s mum rolling her sleeves up for the grandkids and I take on the assistant role). Some of my favourite childhood memories are either making cakes with my grandmère or eating the cakes she made with cousins after a big day of swims or adventures as the calmer afternoon energy replaced the excitement of the day and we drank tea, ate cake and played cards or some other game.

So naturally, cakes are a part of my love language and I think as long as one is able to put the slice of cake in its time and place and not overeat, then it is truly one of the most lovely things to share with people you love as a delicious moment in time.

I created this cake with my mum’s favourite flavours in mind for her birthday. It’s laced with pistachios, rose water and lots of lemon zest. It’s so ridiculously satisfying. The icing is cream cheese icing but with much less icing sugar than is normally used. It means it’s on the runnier side and doesn’t ‘set’ but I’m fine with that for the less-sugar aspect and it still tastes absolutely delicious.

If you’re new to Low Tox Life, one of the first things that set me on the path to creating Low Tox Life is that I had to go gluten-free, having non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, in 2003 so, given at the time every gluten free ‘everything’ was a bit cardboard-like or super grainy with everything based on rice flour, I set out to create my own. These days there are some great all-purpose GF flour mixes. Bob’s Red Mill is always a fave.

Enjoy the cake with your loved ones or at your school bake sale – I’m really proud of this one, it’s a keeper. For decorating I had the luck of Dad’s rose garden being in full bloom and some summer jasmine to top the cake with, along with a scattering of roughly crushed pistachios and a few whole ones. Simple and classy.

Alexx x

Gluten Free Pistachio Cake with a rose cream cheese icing

If you love Persian flavours, pistachio, lemon, rose and all, you will love this gluten free cake. Easy to make. Feeds 12 a delicious dessert or special afternoon tea.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Servings: 12


  • 1 23 cm cake tin
  • Baking paper
  • Food processor, hand-held beaters or thermomix


  • 120 grams softened unsalted butter/room temp (or you could do 100g mild extra virgin olive oil instead for dairy free).
  • 1 1/2 cups or 270g of rapadura or coconut sugar ( you could do 220g / 1 1/4 cup for a less sweet cake, no problem.)
  • 1 zest lemon - (zest the whole lemon)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 juiced lemon, about 2-3 tablespoons (do the zest you need first, then juice it and set aside in a cup)
  • 3/4 cup or 220g greek yoghurt
  • 2 teaspoons rose water
  • 1 1/2 cups or 220g all-purpose gluten-free flour (Bob's Red Mill 1:1 baking GF flour is great for this)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
  • 200 grams ground pistachios (if buying whole, grind in food processor and 200g = 1 2/3 cup ground.)


  • 80 grams unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for at least 2 hours
  • 160 grams pure cream cheese, mascarpone or quark
  • 1 cup organic icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons rose water


  • 30 grams roughly chopped pistachios for scattering over the icing
  • fresh green/white mix of flowers - some jasmine and roses if in season, look lovely!


  • Pre heat oven to 160 celcius/ 330 F - fan forced
  • Line your springform 23cm cake tin with a bleach-free parchment paper base so you can slide your cake off when it's cooked. I don't do the sides unless you desperately want to.
  • In a mixing bowl/thermomix/food processor, add your butter, sugar, lemon zest and whip until thoroughly combined.
  • Add each egg, one by one, at about 15-second intervals to incorporate into the mix - this is going to contribute to the melting, delicious texture at the end!
  • Add the flour, baking powder, lemon juice, ground pistachios, yoghurt and rose water and mix until well combined - as soon as combined STOP though (why? You avoid a thick glugginess to your cake's texture. Little pro tip there!)
  • Pour batter into cake tin and bake for 50-60 minutes on 160C/330F - a gentle, longer cook for this one. If your oven isn't fan forced, check it at 50 minutes and if a skewer test isn't coming out clean yet, cook for an extra 10 minutes.
  • Your cake is done!


  • Combine your cream cheese and very soft butter in a bowl and whip with your hand-held beaters or food processor until well combined - zero butter lumps is important so make sure that butter is soft first but not liquid.
  • Then add your icing sugar tablespoon by tablespoon until you've achieved your sweetness level. The firmer you want your icing, the more icing sugar you'll need but I tend to like quite a soft icing which is great cause it means less sugar!
  • Set in the fridge while the cake is cooking and bring out to ice once your cake has been out of the oven for an hour and is nice and cool - otherwise? Running icing all over the counter. No thanks!
  • Garnish with the pistachios and leaves/flowers or you could use fresh fruit, too. A little sprinkle of lemon zest is lovely as well - make it your own!
  • Eat with people you love and enjoy! Alexx x

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