Pistachios have sort of been a recurring theme in my baking for the past several weeks. I do admit that pistachios are my favorite nut and I will sit and eat handlfuls of them as a snack just as much as I will use them in my baking and savory cooking. I have a very special fondness for this cake. My high school friend Maries mother used to make this cake all the time and when I would go to Maries house (which was practically everyday) she would have it and we would sit around the kitchen table ( I really don’t know what it is about Italians and spending their lives around the kitchen table) and drink espresso and eat this cake. It became a favorite of mine and Maries mom gave it to my mom and she in turn made it for me all the time. When I left home to join the Navy back in 1979 I didn’t know that that would be the last time I had it or that it would so often pop into my head and bring back wonderful memories. My mom was one of those people who didn’t really seem to need a recipe. When I would go home on visits I would sit in the kitchen with my mom as she cooked and I would go through her recipe files and they would be lists of ingredients with no instructions or even a title. My mom would just know from the ingredients what the recipe was and how to make it. I kept trying to explain to her how that wasn’t going to help my sister and I when the time came and we would inherit these recipes. Luckily I would ask my mom to teach me how to make most of my favorites and my sister did the same and these days we teach each other the favorite “mom” recipes. This one however got lost somewhere and I have searched for it for ages with no luck. It was funny that this past Christmas when I was home visiting my sister that we talked about this very cake. My sister said that she remembered it but never came across the recipe in my moms files.
A few weeks ago I stopped by my neighbor Joans for some reason and she called me in the kitchen and asked me if I had ever heard of this cake. She showed me the recipe and I was floored. There it was, my moms recipe for Pistachio Nut cake. I launched into this epistle about how my mom used to make this cake for me all the time and how I had been longing to have it again for years and on and on (as I have a tendency to do). Well, I walked out of Joans house with the treasured recipe in my hot little hands. I wanted to make it right away but didn’t have the ingredients.
The recipe is really one of those 1970’s semi-homemade things which I ordinarily avoid like the plague. It is practically all made by dumping boxes of things in a bowl, stirring it together and baking. This one calls for a yellow cake mix, a box of pistachio pudding and a package of Dream Whip (which my mom always had in the cupboard but which I didn’t think they even made anymore). Ordinarily I wouldn’t be caught dead making something like this but this one is so dear to my heart that I made an exception for it. It literally takes 5 minutes to dump everything in the bowl, mix it for a few minutes and putting it in the oven.
I will add here that my mother rarely sliced her cake and filled it with the frosting. She rarely even made the frosting. I remember this cake as mostly being served plain with just a dusting of confectioners sugar and I admit to preferring it that way but fill and frost as you see fit.
Pistachio Nut Cake
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 pkg. pistachio instant pudding 3 eggs
1 cup club soda
1 cup cooking oil
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, optional
Note: Do not follow ANY directions on cake or pudding packages.
Mix first 5 ingredients and beat 2 minutes. Stir in walnuts. Pour into greased and floured 10″ Bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Cool 15 minutes and remove from pan. Cool in refrigerator. Slice in half horizontally
1 pkg. pistachio instant pudding
1 1 ½ cup cold milk (non-fat is ok)
1 envelope Dream Whip
Beat until thick, about 5 minutes. Put bowl in sink while beating, as it splashes. Spread half the filling on bottom half of cake, including the hole. Put layers together. Put rest of filling into center of cake and top of cake. Put chopped walnuts on top if desired. Refrigerate. Best if made a day ahead. Serve cake cold.