So this week on the GBBO we had Le Gateau Vert.

Straight off I’ll point out that i will never make this cake again. All the elements are time consuming and the cost of the pistachios is unbelievable. If I decide to make something at home after doing a day of baking I’d prefer to make something that most people would enjoy, like last weeks wagon wheels.

If you love the taste and flavour of pistachio this might be the cake for you. Even though the cake needs spinach for the colour there is no taste of it in the final cake. But now knowing how goof of a natural colouring this could be a great option come St. Patrick’s day next year.

This green cake was artist Claude Monet’s favourite birthday cake. 

Makes: 8–10 slices

Hands-on time: 1.5 hr

Bake time: 30 mins

Skill level: Needs skill

For the pistachio marzipan:

300g pistachio kernels 

225g icing sugar 

1 large egg white, whisked 

1 tsp pistachio essence (this will give an extra bit of flavour but i didn’t use it as I couldn’t find it on short notice) 

For the génoise sponge: 

50g pistachio kernels 

75g plain flour 

1/2 tsp Xantan Gum

125g caster sugar 

4 large eggs 

25g unsalted butter, melted 

grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon 

For the crème au beurre:

300g spinach 

100g pistachio kernels 

1 tbsp kirsch (again I could;nt get on short notice so I used brand as a replacement)

150g unsalted butter, softened 

80g caster sugar 

2 large egg yolks 

For the decoration: 

250g fondant icing sugar 

3–4 tbsp spinach water (see method) 

½ tsp pistachio essence (optional) (this will give an extra bit of flavour but i didn’t use it as I couldn’t find it on short notice)

25g pistachio kernels 

edible flowers, to decorate (again an optional ingredient, you could always use some pistachios or sugar-paste flowers)

You will also need:

23cm (9″) round cake tin, greased, then base-lined with baking paper 

Muslin square 


Step 1 – Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4. Make the génoise. Finely grind the pistachios and flour & xantan gum in a food processor. Place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and whisk until thick and pale. Fold in the flour mixture, the butter and the lemon zest.  Be careful to be not to vigorous with your whisking as you do not want to knock out all the air from the egg and sugar mixture.

Step 2 – Pour the mixture into a cake tin and bake for 20–30 minutes, until risen and springy to the touch. Set aside to cool for 5–10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Step 3 – Making the marzipan. Grind the pistachios in a food processor. Add the icing sugar and grind until fine, then tip into a mixing bowl. Add the egg white and pistachio essence(if using) and combine. Turn out onto a worktop dusted with icing sugar and knead until smooth. Wrap in cling film to rest.

Step 4 – Making the crème au beurre. Bring 125ml of water to the boil in a large pan. Add the spinach and wilt for 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blitz to a purée. 

Step 5 –  Drain the purée through a piece of muslin, squeezing out all the spinach water into a bowl. You should have 160–170ml. Set aside your green water and the solids can be thrown away. 

Step 6 – Grind the pistachios in a blender. Add the kirsch (brandy in my case), 1 tablespoon of the spinach water and 50g of the butter. Blitz to a paste and set aside. 

Step 7 – Put the sugar and 100ml of the spinach water into a pan (reserve the remainder for later). Dissolve the sugar gently, then boil for 2–3 minutes, until the syrup is clear of sugar and forms a thread when pulled between 2 teaspoons. 

Step 8 – Whisk the egg yolks in a stand mixer, then pour in the syrup in a thin stream, whisking all the time. Whisk until the mixture is thick and cold, then add the remaining 100g of softened butter, and whisk in the pistachio paste made in step 6.  

Step 9 – Slice the sponge into three equal layers (harder than it sounds!!). Spread the bottom layer with one third of the crème au beurre, then the middle layer with another one third, then top with the final sponge. Spread a thin buttercream layer over the top and sides. Roll out the marzipan and use to cover the whole cake. 

Step 10 – To make the decoration, sift the fondant icing into a bowl and, a little at a time, add 3–4 tablespoons of the remaining spinach water until you have a thick, pourable fondant. Add the pistachio essence (if using) and mix thoroughly until completely smooth. 


Step 11 – Stand the cake on a wire rack and pour over the fondant icing. Leave to drip for 2–3 minutes, then transfer to a cake stand. Press the chopped pistachios around the base of the cake, then decorate with edible flowers (optional).