Rhubarb, Pistachio and Cardamom Cake

rhubarb cardamom pistachio cake

My parent’s rhubarb crop is nearing the end but that didn’t stop them giving me a large bunch to take with me when I visited recently. It made a great crumble and this cake, which was my second attempt at my friend Magda’s recipe. The first time I forgot to check whether I had cardamom until it was time to add it (turned out I didn’t) and forgot to put in the ginger. Oh, and the butter. It wasn’t a runaway success. This time I made sure I had all the ingredients and double-checked I had put them in. And despite reading the recipe numerous times before making it, making the cake twice and wondering repeatedly why you didn’t put the pistachios in the cake as well as on top, still managed to miss the part in the recipe where it said add the pistachios until I came to write this. So the next time I make it I’m hoping to get all the ingredients in…

I don’t know where the recipe originated but my friend Magda gave it to me with her amendments to make it healthier, so this is essentially her recipe. She reduced the amount of sugar in it, changed the fats and replaced some with natural yogurt, as well as using wholemeal flour instead of white flour. The cardamom seeds retain a delicious crunch and give a lovely, unexpected, almost perfume-like taste but you could always grind them (or use ground cardamom instead) if you prefer. The icing is a healthier version of cream cheese icing than I normally use but in warm weather it will quickly go off as it doesn’t contain the required butter and sugar to preserve it. In warm weather it would be better to keep the cake in the fridge and take it out to let it get to room temperature before you eat it.

rhubarb cardamom pistachio cake


The recipe below will make one deep 8″ cake. The cake in my photos was made with half the recipe quantity (but using 2 eggs) in an 8″x7″ tray, and less than one quantity of icing. I baked it for around 25 minutes.


100g soft brown sugar

100ml olive oil

50g melted butter

200ml natural yogurt

3 eggs

1 tablespoon orange flower water

Zest of one orange

350g rhubarb

80g pistachios, plus extra for the topping

300g wholemeal self raising flour

Seeds of 12 cardamom pods

½ teaspoon ground ginger


250g mascarpone or cream cheese

50g icing sugar, sieved

Zest of ½ lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Set the oven to 180ºC and line a deep, loose-based 8″ cake tin with baking parchment.

Beat together the sugar, oil, melted butter, yogurt, eggs, orange flower water and orange zest.

Mix in the rhubarb, pistachios and cardamom seeds.

rhubarb cardamom

Rhubarb and cardamom

Sieve in the flour and ground ginger and fold in, making sure that everything is properly mixed.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and gently level.

Bake for around 40-45 minutes, until the cake is well risen and browned, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out dry.

Allow to cool in the tin.

rhubarb cardamom cake

When the cake is completely cold make the icing:

Beat the cream cheese, icing sugar, lemon zest and juice together until smooth and creamy.

Spread it over the top (and sides if you like) and scatter over chopped pistachios.

rhubarb cardamom pistachio cake

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Fruit, Recipes

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

11 replies

  1. Looks great Rachel, considerably low in sugar. Where did you buy the orange flower water ?

    • Hi, sorry for the slow reply! I’m not sure where I got the orange water as I have had it in the cupboard for ages but I’m sure I must have picked it up locally as I don’t remember buying it anywhere special for something specific…

  2. It looks delicious and reading the recipe was quite satisfying! I can almost smell it from here!

  3. Oh I wish we still had our rhubarb going! My son would love this cake. I’ll pin it for next year.

  4. That cake is almost too pretty to eat!

  5. Love Cardamom—can’t wait to try these! Happy feasting!

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