Vegan Pesto Pistachio & Rose Cake

I’ve got another recipe perfect for your Valentine’s Day dessert menu today! This vegan pesto, pistachio & rose cake is a simple, yet flavourful bake which is perfect for treating your loved one this Valentine’s! I know what you’re thinking, pesto in cake? Yes, you have read that correctly. The pesto adds an additional depth of flavour and subtle nutty savoury hue, to compliment the pistachio. This pesto from Sacla is also completely plant based (most regular pestos contain cheese), so keeps this bake completely vegan!

Additionally to the slightly unusual yet delicious flavours, this cake is also perfectly fluffy in texture, whilst also being gluten free! So this recipe really is perfect for most dietary requirements! The rose petals not only provide a pretty hint of pink, but also a delicate touch of floral fragrance. Roses are also rather appropriate for a Valentine’s dessert and you could add extra on top for decoration!

Why make this vegan pesto pistachio & rose cake?

  • It’s gluten free!
  • Vegan friendly!
  • Delicious and super flavourful!
  • Perfect for Valentine’s Day!
  • Easy to make and requires minimal equipment.
  • Can be adapted to be refined sugar free (see below)

What ingredients will I need?

  • Gluten free self raising flour: this recipe calls for GF self raising flour, which is what helps achieve that light and fluffy texture. You can find this in the free from isle in most supermarkets.
  • Vegan butter: I’ve used vegan butter in this recipe instead of coconut oil, as I find it works best for this particular cake.
  • Vegan pesto: this is what adds that extra something special to this cake! This vegan pesto from Sacla is made with tofu and tastes just as delicious, if not better!
  • Rose petals: these add a hint of fragrance to the cake and delightful flickers of pink throughout. You can find dried rose petals easily online.
  • Sugar: you can use golden caster sugar for this recipe or coconut palm sugar for a refined sugar free alternative.

Can I use a different gluten free flour?

I wouldn’t recommend switching the self raising flour for another GF alternative for this recipe, as it won’t create the same texture. Lots of my recipes use oat flour, however, GF self raising works wonders for this one!

Is this recipe nut free?

The pesto does contain cashew nuts, therefore this recipe isn’t completely nut free.

How to make the frosting?

This is something that I’ve wanted to share with you guys for weeks now! I’ve recently developed quite the obsession with making Swiss meringue buttercream. So much so, that I was going to dedicate a whole recipe post to just that. However, I couldn’t share this cake without letting you in on the perfect frosting accompaniment! If you’ve never tried Swiss meringue buttercream, then you’ve certainly been missing out! It’s pillow-y soft, glossy and has the perfect amount of sweetness! It’s basically the premium, levelled up version of regular buttercream frosting! Oh, and this one’s vegan!

Vegan Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Desserts
Keyword: buttercream, frosting, swiss meringue, Vegan


  • 1 can chickpea water
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp freeze dried berry powder
  • 60 ml hot water
  • 220 g unsalted vegan butter- must stick butter not from a tub


  • Firstly, you'll need to reduce the chickpea water to 1/2 cup measurement. Heat your chickpea water in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Once reduced, leave this in the fridge for an hour to cool. This step can also be done the day before.
  • To make your sugar syrup, combine the water and 3/4 cup of sugar in a sauecpan and stir to form a thick paste. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. You want your sugar to be 116c on a candy thermometer.
  • Whip up your chickpea water and cream of tatar using an electric whisk and clean, dry mixing bowl. Once youre mixing has increased in size and formed soft peaks, add in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar whilst continuing to whisk.
  • Once your sugar syrup is ready, gradually drizzle this in small quantities at a time as you whisk. You're mixture should be beautifully glossy and form peaks.
  • Chop the butter into small chunks. Continue beating the mixture with your electric whisk and add in a little of the butter at a time, whisking for a few seconds in between. The meringue will flatten as the butter is added, but continue to wisk and your mixture will thicken when all of the butter has been fully incorporated.
  • Add in the freeze dried berry powder (could also use food colouring) and beat to evenly distribute.
  • You're now ready to spread or pipe this onto your cakes. You can store the buttercream in the fridge, but will need to whisk again before using.

Vegan Pesto, Pistachio & Rose Cake

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Baking
Keyword: banana bread, gluten free, chai cake, pesto, vegan cake


  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp caster sugar/coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegan butter
  • 1 tbsp Sacla Vegan Basil Pesto
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups GF self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp crushed pistachios
  • 1 tbsp dried rose petals


  • Preheat your oven to 180c and lightly grease a loose bottom 20cm cake tin with vegan butter. Mix together the apple cider  vinegar and plant milk, then set aside for 5 minutes.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the vegan butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the milk and cider vinegar mixture and your vegan pesto! 
  • Fold your wet and dry ingredients together and gently stir in the crushed pistachios and rose petals. 
  • Pour your cake batter into your greased tin and bake for around 40-45 minutes then allow to cool completely. 
  • Mix together the ingredients for the drizzle and adjust the sweetness to taste if needed. Piece a few holes in your sponge using a skewer and pour your syrup over the top. 
  • Frost with your favourite buttercream frosting or other toppings of choice and serve!

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