Pistachio Olive Oil Mini Tea Cakes

Ever buy yourself a little treat, something that sounded perfect and tasty, but after biting into it disappointment ensued. Maybe the bakery wasn’t as skilled as you hoped, or perhaps the pastry had been waiting a little too long for someone to come by and savor its original deliciousness. Whatever the case, you were left with the “wha waa” feeling.

It happens occasionally. Sometimes even from a good bakery. Like so much in life, these moments can be cause for a little bitch and moan session, or they can be inspiration.

I’m not all sugar and spice and everything nice, but there are times when I suck a little less than at other moments. Theses little pistachio olive oil cakes are the result of such inspiration. After being disappointed in a pistachio cake we had recently to accompany an afternoon espresso, I was determined to make them myself to the level of deliciousness I had hoped the afternoon’s treat would originally be.

After a little modern day research (aka google) I stumbled upon Farm to Table Geek’s Pistachio Cakes. First drawn in by the great photos, by the perfect looking crumb, and the cool aesthetic use of graphics with the images. But what really spoke to me was the mortar and pestle used to crush the pistachios.

The mortar and pestle is an underrated bad boy of the kitchen. Once you are down with the pound, you never go the other way round. And if this guy is taking to the pistachios with a mortar & pestle, yet still has the delicate touch to fold together the ingredients, then this is my type of cook.

After a bit of tweaking to personal taste and adjusting for ingredients we had on hand, I worked out just the treat I was hoping for. The slightly sweet nature of the tea cake, the flavor and crunch of the pistachios playing off of the flavor from the olive oil and the softness of the cake. Pull me an espresso and call me happy.

One quick note on the olive oil, in remaking the recipe to double check that all was well and ready to share with the world, I testing using an average olive vs our house favorite to see if there would be a noticeable difference. End result, there was quite a flavor difference. After first shooting for Lucina Italia almost a couple years ago, we fell in love with their oils and vinegars, and in this recipe the exceptional flavor of their olive oil helped make the taste magical.

If you were to make them with nice oil vs an exceptional one, would I be able to tell? To paraphrase the original Mostly Martha movie, “It’s not that I can tell which one you did use, but I could tell which one you didn’t.” A movie which, btw, is still one of my all time favorite food movies. I’m dying to discover another great food movie, so if anyone has any suggestions, spit ’em out! 😉 . So far my top 10 (in no particular order) are: Mostly Martha, Big Night, Dinner Rush, Eat Drink Man Woman, Tampopo, A Chef in Love, Soul Food, Chocolat, Babette’s Feast, and Bottle Shock.

Cheers to not sucking and good pastries! And afternoon espressos!


Pistachio Olive Oil Mini Tea Cakes

Yield: 12 Mini Tea Cakes

Total Time: 30 min

Adapted from Farm to Table Geek's Pistachio Cake. One could easily make this as a loaf or a larger tea cake, however the mini cakes are fun and easy when using a muffin pan.

Your choice in olive oil will be reflected in the flavor of the cakes. Choose wisely. We love Lucini olive oil. It's a little higher price point, but oh so tasty. If you don't have creme fraiche on hand, sour cream makes an acceptable substitute.


  • 2 Eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1/3 cup (66g) Sugar
  • 1/3 cup (73g) packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked Black Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 cup (50g) good Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup (125g) Creme Fraiche
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Orange Bitters
  • 1 cup (120g) roasted Pistachio Nuts, lightly crushed or chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups (150g) Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder


Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 12 cup muffin pan.

  1. Whisk egg yolks, sugars, salt, pepper, olive oil, vanilla extract, orange bitters, and creme fraiche together until well combined. Stir in pistachios. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder for 20 seconds. Set aside.
  3. Whisk egg whites to soft peaks.
  4. Fold flour mix into egg yolk mix. Gently fold egg whites into egg yolk mix.
  5. Divide batter between the 12 muffin cups (should fill each about 2/3's full). Bake for 18 minutes or until slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

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Recipe Note for Salt: All recipes containing salt are based on kosher or sea salt amounts, not table salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount used to taste.


{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Kelly @ Running Blonde

    I loved this recipe so much I just made a batch and shared them on my blog! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  2. thyme (Sarah)

    Wonderful little tea cakes and story. I’ve missed being here so I’d better go and catch up!

  3. Simenthra

    Best foodie movie for me was ‘Like Water for Chocolate’. Never looked at food in quite the same way again!

  4. jadekaz

    These look awesome. Wish I could buy one to go with my espresso!

    Re: movies – I’m a fan of the cute film, “The Ramen Girl,” with Brittany Murphy.

  5. dervla

    cheers to not sucking indeed…i love baking with olive oil.

  6. Anna

    Love your food photo props, especially the plates and muffin tin 🙂

  7. Suzanne Perazzini

    I love my big stone mortar and pestle. There is something therapeutic about grinding foods to powder. Most olive oils which are found in supermarkets are already rancid and most people don’t even notice this because they are so used to the rancid taste. If they ever tasted a fresh olive oil, they would never return to a mass-produced supermarket bought one.
    My favourite food movie is the same as Sandy’s – Like water for Chocolate.

  8. Ginger G

    … based on “Eat Drink Man Woman” – “Tortilla Soup”!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      I totally forgot about that one. I saw it in Netflix then forgot to add to m queue. Thanks!

  9. Joanne @ Fifteen Spatulas

    I TOTALLY know what you’re saying! It’s so disappointing when you see something through the plexiglass that looks so good, then it’s dry and flavorless. Love these pistachio cakes, and agree that olive oils vary quite a bit in quality and flavor.

  10. francis-olive

    ps, just ‘got’ the ‘white on rice’. that’s hysterical and so clever 😉

  11. francis-olive

    i am the owner of farm to table geek. im pinning, minding my own business, then came across my pistachio recipe ala your cupcakes and i could not be more pleased! how wonderful! i love it when someone is inspired by something that i post. i love your blog, im a fan, actually. so its funny that i would see myself in you! lol.

    listen, i am actually restarting farm to table geek. i have been on a very long hiatus because of life events. i plan to begin again next week. so again, serendipitous and uncanny.

    in the meantime, you can also find me at tartine-bread.blogspot.com it’s my bread blog. cheers and thank you for loving this recipe enough to remake it. i made one of the cakes for my friends birthday last week, and it sparked my return to farm to table geek. check back soon!


    1. White on Rice Couple

      So glad you loved them. Thanks for the inspiration from your great recipe and images.
      Glad you are getting back in the action. It’s such a pleasure to be moved by your work.

  12. Jen

    Made them. Subtle and yummy.

  13. Chef and Steward

    We know what you mean about biting into something sweet only to be disappointed. Some sweet treats are not worth the calories! Thanks for sharing such a lovely post and the original mortar wielding Farm to Table Geek who influenced your recipe. We have subscribed to yours.

  14. Sandy

    These look incredible and I can’t wait to try this recipe outdoors when camping. Thank you for introducing me to Lucina Italia and to Farm to Table Geek. Big Night is at the top of my list, I love Stanley Tucci-great NY Times article on him and family with recipes ! http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/03/dining/stanley-tucci-actor-writer-family-cook.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
    My 2nd favorite movie:Like Water for Chocolate-love love love the quail with roses scene.

  15. baker in disguise

    I recently made a lime and olive oil cake.. and I think olive oil gives the cake a very distinct, fresh and grassy flavour.. if that makes sense!!! and i love mini cakes… and these have pistachios, orange bitters and a teeny bit of pepper.. am intrigued!!!

  16. Major Medical Insurance Plans via Facebook

    Very tasy looking!

  17. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic

    Yup, I’ve definitely been disappointed in some treats, then go home and bake my own version. These little cakes look so good!

  18. cindy

    I have not seen SO many of those movies, I’m putting them on a to-watch list!

    Whenever I find myself in a casino–which is almost every time I go back to Nevada–the pastries always look stunning and always seem to disappoint. It’s a special kind of heartbreak, so pretty yet so sad. I love pistachios and slightly sweet cakes!

  19. Averie @ Averie Cooks

    I’ve never made cakes or cupcakes with olive oil because I always worry it’s going to taste like…pizza dough or something savory…ha! But you have me convinced to try. And the reason I bake as much as I do is b/c I am routinely disappointed in pastries I buy when out. Fine but not wow amazing, many times so necessity is the mother of invention 🙂 Glad you took matters into your own hands, too!

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