Italian Dairy-free Chocolate Cake with Pistachio Buttercream Icing

I made this cake for my flat mate Suchita’s 25th birthday. I wanted to create something as beautiful and creative as her. She is one of the most artistic people I know, with passions such as photography and fashion. She has helped me with some of my food photography; you can take a gander at her work here.

I must say I am quite proud of my efforts at my first attempt at decorating a cake with flora. However don’t be fooled into thinking this was hard work, very little effort went into making this cake!

I used Chelsea Winter’s Crazy Italian Chocolate cake recipe which substitutes butter and milk for olive oil. Growing up my Mother used a chocolate cake recipe that used oil for all our birthday cakes. The oil creates a moist yet light and fluffy cake once cooked. It also looks more appealing with a slight sheen. Also bonus points for being healthier!

Honestly there is not a single thing I would change about Chelsea’s recipe. Literally sift the dry ingredients and then mix in the wet. Takes approximately 15 min to chuck together, therefore it is now my go-to chocolate cake recipe.

For the icing instead of making Chelsea’s chocolate ganache, I made a pistachio buttercream icing:

2c Shelled pistachios – ground to a fine crumb with a pestle and mortar

280g Icing Sugar

140g Butter softened

A few drops of green food colouring to obtain desired colour (keeping it natural looking)

Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth. Stir in the food colouring and ground pistachios until well combined.

Once spread over your cake it’s time to decorate with flowers!

Cut the flower stems to around 5-10mm in length and if you are unsure whether your flowers are edible wrap the end Glad wrap before poking into your cake.

If you have left your icing to set, use a cake spike or skinny sharp knife to make small incisions before putting flowers in.

Remember to hit up Pinterest for inspiration!

Happy Cooking!


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