A Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Pistachio Cake with Yogurt Icing and Caramel Chunks

I have been dreaming of making this cake for about twenty years!
I remember coming home from my German class one evening, finding the leftovers of an afternoon tea party on the kitchen counter...this lovely pistachio cake with chunks of caramel was there too, right next to a pot of filter coffee. I was so hungry, that I wolfed down two pieces, with a cup of cold coffee, before my mum would see me.
It was the coffee she'd fuss about, I was in secondary school and I wasn't allowed to have any yet. Aww, it made me feel so grown up, having coffee and that so elegant-looking cake. I think it's since then that I've loved the idea of tea gatherings so much. Funny enough it's the preparation part that I enjoy the most; going through recipes, planning and baking and above all, decorating the house, laying the table, flowers, candles...and finally friends arriving!
The original recipe calls for Chantilly, instead of icing, but I find that cream in UK makes for a very thin Chantilly, which wouldn't keep it's shape unless consumed straight away, so I replaced it with yogurt icing, to pick up from the yogurt in the cake.  
- 250gr unsalted butter
- 2 cups of sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup fine semolina
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 tablespoons of brandy
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup of finely crushed pistachios
- 175gr Greek yogurt
For the icing
- 3 spoonfuls of Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup of icing sugar
- A splash of vanilla essence
For the Caramel
- 1 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 spoonfuls water
Whisk the butter and sugar in a bowl or a blender, until fluffy.
Add the vanilla and the eggs, continue whisking.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, semolina and baking powder together.
Slowly start folding the flour mix into the whisked butter and eggs mix, one spoonful at a time, until there are no flour lumps.
Add the brandy, cinnamon, pistachios and yogurt to the mix and stir slowly until everything is uniformly combined.
Butter a cake tin, I used a bundt tin in this case, but it works perfectly fine with a 8inch sandwich cake tin too.
Bake for 45 minutes in 200C. After 45 minutes take the cake out of the oven and let it cool down.
Before making the caramel, lay a tissue of parchment paper on a wire rack.
For the caramel, put the sugar and water in a pan and let it slowly warm up over medium heat.
Do not stir until the sugar is starting to go brownish on the sides of the pan. Then gently stir and let the whole mixture go light brown.
Slowly pour the caramel mixture on the parchment paper and let it cool down for half an hour, or until it's completely cold.
Then you can fold the paper into itself and crack the caramel in large chunks. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to break the caramel. Whatever you do, be very careful, caramel is not to be touched hot at any point - I should know, I managed to burn my finger!
For the icing, whisk together the yogurt, icing sugar and vanilla.
When the cake has cooled down, flip it out of the bundt tin and pour the icing over it and decorate with caramel chunks.

Glimpses of Spring

I know, I know, just because Christmas is over, it doesn't mean that Spring is already here.
Nor have we seen the back of cold weather just yet. But I couldn't help it!
I long to wear less layers and light colours on a sunny - albeit a bit chilly - Sunday stroll around Hampstead or a brunch date at Petersham Nurseries, where Spring seems to live all-year round!
Here is a little inspiration on those light colours for spring. Some of the items are on sale too, so be quick!
White Reiss Skye Wool and Cashmere Coat (on sale here) || Michael Kors Alessandra Bow-embellished Leather Pumps (on sale here) || Rag & Bone Wool-felt Fedora Peach (on sale here) || Gucci round-frame acetate sunglasses (find them here) || Kenneth Jay Beaded necklace Pastel-Orange (on sale here) || 8 Mid-rise Flared Jeans Dark Denim (on sale here) ||  Clare V. Tote Rose/Navy/Red (find it here)


All-Day Brunch - Black Duck Garden, Athens

Our curious host!

Athens is a foodie's paradise and if you haven't realised that yet, well, book your tickets and pack your stretchy pants too!
In just four days we managed to visit so many lovely restaurants;
some upmarket {see Salumaio d'Atene and Coocoovaya} and some simpler, see the utterly chaotic "Thanassis" in Mitropoleos street, where 3 of us had lunch for 25 euros - that's for pork gyros-filled pittas, souvlaki, fries and wine!

Regardless of the prices you pay, Athenian restaurants do have a certain amount of charm and respect for good food in common.
Something else they have in common: the staples of Greek cuisine, meat and cheese! So much cheese! 
When we eventually got the desire for a comforting, humble, ok maybe even a bit British-inspired brunch, we discovered the City of Athens Museum bistro: the Black Duck Garden.  

The museum is housed in what served as the very first house - or maybe palace - for Greece's first-ever king Othon and his queen Amalia, back in 1836!
The garden still boasts a palm tree that Amalia had planted at the time. The museum itself, is a joy to visit too, with a plethora of items from Athenian daily life...from stamps and musical instruments to furniture and books.
On to the eggs now: you can have Eggs Benedict or an omelette with your choice of topping - off course you can go for cheese again, or rather feta to be precise - and a glass of Prosecco for 15 euros! What else do you need on a festive, cold afternoon?
Lovely, homely surroundings, with a nod to the city's centuries-old love affair with the arts.
Kalimera! {=good morning}

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