Pistachio and walnut crumbly cake

I first had a ‘crumbly’ cake at an afternoon tea hosted by a friend whose brother lived in Norway, and she made a traditional Scandinavian cake that was not too sweet and had a unique slightly crumbly texture. I loved it and have been trying for some time to create my own version from that memory. Loosely based on a recipe I dug up from somewhere now long forgotten, scribbled and scrawled over, and liberally stained with spilled ingredients, here is the end result. It has aniseed undertones, a hint of saltiness, and richness from the pistachios and walnuts. It’s also super easy to make, and keeps well.

I like to serve this cake with coffee for afternoon tea, but it is also really spectacular as a dessert when served with espresso syrup and burnt caramel ice cream. If you come from Brisbane as I do then Lick make the most awesomely delicious burnt caramel ice cream – with just the right edge of bitterness. And for espresso syrup I would suggest using this recipe – it is my favourite.

Serves 12

100g shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
50g melted butter
pinch salt

85 g shelled pistachios
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 star anise
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
3 tablespoons olive oil
50 g butter, melted
zest of 1 lemon

Heat oven to 165 C. Lightly grease a 23 cm spring-form tin with a little butter and then line the base with baking paper. In a small bowl combine all the topping ingredients and set aside. In a pestle and mortar crush the star anise until it is quite finely ground. The smell should be heavenly (and so much better than using powdered spice). Combine the pistachios, walnuts, flour, sugar, star anise, salt and baking powder in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely chopped. Whisk the remaining ingredients together and process until combined. Spread into the base of the baking tin and then cover with the topping mixture, pressing down very lightly with your fingertips. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool  before carefully removing the tin. Store in an airtight container.