Momofuku Style Pistachio Citrus Cake

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Momofuku must be my forever love! I simply adore the way Christina Tosi assumed her role as a food provider and dessert creator, her creativity and the way she turned something she loves into an empire more or less. Sure, all her desserts are really sweet, they are what she calls fast desserts, tiny bits that you can take with you and eat without problems. But the layering and the idea of not actually decorating the cake with much is stunning. At the end of the day, this Pistachio Momofuku Style Citrus Cake shines through its layers and honestly it does not need anything else. Pistachio is the king of pastry, I gotta say! It’s incredible on its own, but also combined with plenty of aromas, from citrus fruits to raspberry or mango, but also passion fruit, strawberries, pineapple and the list can easily go on!

momofuku style pistachio citrus cake

I do find the Momofuku desserts a tad too sweet, so most of my Christina Tosi inspired cakes or desserts have a lesser amount of sugar or a few of their elements exchanged with others. And that is the case with this cake as well. I did keep the pistachio sponge which I found to be amazing – dense and rich, packed with pistachio taste, just how I like it. But I used a citrus cream that I made before countless times and I adapted a bit the buttercream with less sugar. The crunchy elements, in my case the croustillant, were supposed to be crumble pieces, but I do know from past recipes that the crumble tends to be quite sweet.

slice of momofuku style pistachio citrus cake

The final cake had an amazing color and an incredible pistachio taste with refreshing notes of lemon and lime. And I love a cake that is balanced like that, a cake that creates contrasts and knows how to deliver them. Pistachio does need something to brighten it as it tends to be quite fatty otherwise. But I am thinking that maybe next time I could use a raspberry compote instead of the citrus cream. Wouldn’t that look and taste amazing?!

It’s not a cake for the faint of heart for sure! It might seem complex and the pistachio paste is not that easy to find or make either. But it is a cake that makes pistachio the star so if you do love this flavor as much as me, it is worth a try!

decorating momofuku cake

Pistachio paste is a fine paste made only from pistachio, raw or slightly baked or a mix of both, whilst pistachio praline is a mix of pistachio and caramelized sugar. The tastes are slightly different and they are not interchangeable as one contains no sugar and the other has sugar (usually 50%). They can be found in specialty stores or made at home with a good food processor. The good news is that if you do have pistachio paste, you can easily make praline by mixing equal parts of pistachio paste and caramelized sugar in a food processor and blending until a smooth paste forms.

slice of pistachio cake

How to make Momofuku Style Pistachio Citrus Cake

Pistachio Momofuku Style Citrus Cake

Olguta Iliescu – Pastry Chef
This Pistachio Momofuku Style Citrus Cake is is incredibly flavorful. The mix of pistachio and citrus fruits is incredible!
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Chilling time 8 hours
Total Time 9 hours 45 minutes
Rezultat –1 18cm diameter cake


Pistachio sponge cake:

  • 160 g pistachio paste
  • 75 g glucose syrup
  • 180 g egg whites
  • 280 g powdered sugar
  • 110 g almond flour
  • 75 g vegetable oil (grape seeds oil preferably)
  • 55 g heavy cream
  • 160 g all-purpose flour
  • 6 g baking powder
  • 6 g salt

Citrus cremeux:

  • 150 g eggs
  • 130 g white sugar
  • 130 g lemon + lime juice
  • the zest from 1 lemon and 1 lime
  • 140 g butter (room temperature)

Pistachio buttercream:

  • 140 g butter (room temperature)
  • 45 g pistachio paste
  • 50 g powdered sugar
  • 2 g salt

Sugar syrup:

  • 60 g water
  • 40 g white sugar
  • 15 g lemon juice
  • zest from 1 lime

Pistachio croustillant:

  • 60 g pistachio praline
  • 70 g paillete feuilletine
  • 75 g white chocolate (melted)


Pistachio sponge cake:

  • Combine the pistachio paste and glucose syrup and mix well.
  • Add the egg whites, gradually, mixing all the time at medium to high speed.
  • Mix the powdered sugar and almond flour then add it to the pistachio and whites mix. Continue whipping at high speed.
  • Stream in the vegetable oil, then do the same with the heavy cream.
  • Mix the flour with the salt and baking powder and add it to the batter.
  • Combine well then transfer into a 35x25cm cake frame.
  • Level the batter well then bake in the preheated oven at 180C for 20-25 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Don’t overbake as it might dry out!

Citrus cremeux:

  • Combine the eggs, sugar, lemon and lime juice plus zest in a small pot and place over low heat.
  • Cook, mixing all the time, until the mixture begins to thicken.
  • Strain through a fine sieve then cool down to 40C.
  • Add the softened butter and blend well.
  • Keep in the fridge until assembling.

Pistachio buttercream:

  • Combine the butter and pistachio paste and mix well.
  • Add the sugar and salt and give it a good mix.
  • Keep aside until assembling.

Sugar syrup:

  • Combine all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Strain through a fine sieve and cool down.


  • Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  • Spoon 1/4 of the croustillant into small pieces on a sheet of baking paper and refrigerate. These will be the decor later.
  • Keep the remaining croustillant in the bowl at room temperature until assembling.

To assemble the cake:

  • Cut 2 discs of pistachio sponge cake – 18cm diameter. Keep the cake scraps to build a third layer of sponge cake later.
  • Arrange a sheet of acetate in a 18cm diameter cake ring.
  • Using the cake scraps, build your first layer, pressing the cake well to ensure and even layer.
  • Brush the sponge cake with sugar syrup then spoon in 1/3 of the buttercream and level well.
  • Add 1/3 of the citrus cremeux, followed by pieces of croustillant.
  • Place a disc of sponge cake on top and press to make sure the cake is leveled.
  • Follow the same layering as before: syrup, 1/3 of the buttercream, 1/3 of the citrus cremeux, croustillant.
  • Place the last disc of cake on top and press well.
  • Cover the final layer of cake with the remaining pistachio buttercream and refrigerate at least 6 hours.
  • Keep the remaining 1/3 of citrus cremeux for decorating later.
  • Once the cake has chilled, remove the cake ring and acetate sheet.
  • Decorate with the citrus cremeux you kept aside and the croustillant pieces. The final touch might as well be a few slices of lemon or lime.
  • Enjoy!


Ustensile si echipamente

Kitchen scale
18cm diameter cake rings
Acetate sheet
Baking paper
Cake board
Pastry brush
Keyword Citrus fruits, Lemon cake, Momofuku, Momofuku cake, Pistachio, Pistachio cake
Ai incercat reteta?Mentioneaza @olguta_oana sau tag #pastryworkshop!
momofuku style pistachio citrus cake

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  1. Hello!
    The cake looks amazing and I want to make it for my mothers’ birthday. I have some questions though. Is the pistachio praline for the croustillant that you used in the form of a paste? And is it possible to substitute the paillete feuilletine with some cornflakes or sth else? Another thing is that I plan to use orange instead of lemon as my mother prefers it. I think it will be just fine…?

    1. You can substitute with cornflakes, but it will not taste the same. Here is a recipe for paillete feuilletine:

      As for the pistachio praline, it is a paste, yes. Here’s how you can make it: If you have trouble translating it, let me know.

      You can use orange, but I would still keep a bit of lemon juice in the mix because with just orange I think it would miss the kick of the lemon and the cake will be very sweet and not at all balanced.

  2. Sorry, one more question.
    For the Citrus cremeux do I puree the lemon/orange before placing it in the pot over low heat?

  3. Thank you very much for answering! I need the cake for late December, but I want to prepare in advance the pistachio paste and praline (here in Bulgaria I couldn’t find praline, so I will be making it) as I wouldn’t have enough time when the day comes.
    I won’t omit the lemon entirely, as you said, I will just add some orange.
    I plan to make the sponge cake at least 1 day in advance and keep it in the fridge.
    Thank you again!

  4. Hello again! 🙂 I’ve made the praline and I am trying to schedule which part when can I prepare, because I wouldn’t have enough time in one day to prepare the whole cake. So my question is – can I make the sugar syrup, the buttercream and the sponge cake 3 days in advance and leave them all in the fridge?
    And if needed, can I assemble and keep the cake in the fridge for 1 or 2 whole days?

    1. You can make the cake and freeze it. The syrup can be made ahead and kept in the fridge. But the buttercream needs to be fresh as in the fridge it will set. You can assemble the cake and keep it in the fridge for 1-2 days, yes.

  5. The cake was phenomenal! Thank you for answering all of my questions! The croustillant was the hardest, but it came up just right! Surely will be making more of your cakes, hopefully won’t have that many questions! Thanks again!

  6. Thank you so much for your instructions on this cake! I have the Milk Bar Cookbook and plan to make this cake. The cookbook instructions say to mix on low, but your instructions say to mix on medium to medium high. Your instructions make more sense to me because mixing on low, like the cookbook directs, seems like that would cause the oil not to emulsify well into the batter. Could you comment on this? I am just wondering if I am thinking correctly about this. Thanks.

    1. Indeed. I tried on low and it didn’t seem to mix properly. Also, I thought that mixing on higher speed couldn’t harm the sponge that much as it would only introduce a bit more air.

  7. Thank you. I have noticed that some of the other cake recipes by Christina Tosi say to mix on medium high for 4 to 6 minutes. I will do that for this cake.

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