We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Great British Bake Off's Lea Harris's Pistachio and Cranberry Cake

Epilepsy Action Tea Break - Friday 21 October

Lea Harris's Pistachio and Cranberry Cake

Sign up for a free pack now

"I made this cake for the Great British Bake Off and if you saw the first series, it’s the cake I dropped as I took it out from the oven. The recipe is quite complex so take your time and read through thoroughly."

For the cake

  • 8oz/225g very soft unsalted butter
  • 8oz/225g caster sugar
  • 5 medium free-range/organic eggs, at room temperature
  • 6oz/185g plain flour, sifted
  • 4oz/115g unsalted pistachios, finely ground
  • 4oz/115g dried cranberries
  • 2tbsp orange flower water
  • Grated orange zest   
  • Butter for greasing tin

For the icing

  • 4oz/115g white icing sugar, sifted
  • Flat tspn butter
  • 2 tbsp orange flower water
  • A few drops of orange oil

To decorate

  • 1 tbsp whole pistachios
  • 1 tbsp dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.

Grease a deep 8inch round cake tin with butter and line with greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl cream the butter (it must be very soft) and sugar until fluffy and pale; use whichever method you are comfortable with – wooden spoon, electric hand whisk or mixer of your choice.

Separate eggs and put the whites in a spotlessly, grease-free bowl (I wipe beaters and bowl with lemon juice and dry with kitchen roll) and put the yolks into a heatproof bowl (not stainless steel).

Place the bowl with the yolks over a pan of hot water (not boiling); whisk with an electric hand whisk until they pale, thick, foamy and the mix falls back into the bowl leaving a ribbon-like trail. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water otherwise you’ll end up with cooked egg.

Remove bowl from the pan and whisk for a few minutes more until cold, otherwise if it is too hot it will melt the creamed butter.

Combine the thickened eggs into the creamed butter and then gently fold in the flour, ground pistachios, cranberries, grated orange zest and orange flower water.

Whisk the egg whites until firm but not stiff. Add a large dollop of whites into the cake mix and stir to slacken. With a large metal spoon, gently fold in the rest of the whites in 3 batches. When thoroughly combined, spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin, level mix making a small dip in the centre so it rises evenly. I sometimes don’t because I like a cracked domed top. Bake for about 1 to 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (check after an hour). If the cake looks as if it’s browning too quickly, cover with either a piece of foil or some greaseproof paper.

Remove the cake from the oven, put the tin on a wire cooling rack and leave for 5 minutes before unmoulding the cake. Leave it to cool completely before icing.


Put all icing ingredients into a small pan except the orange oil. Heat gently and stir until smooth and the butter has melted. Add the orange oil drop by drop and taste as you go to make sure it isn’t overpower. If icing stiff add a little water. Pour the warm icing over the cake.

Crush pistachios, sprinkle over cake and dot with cranberries.

Put your feet up, enjoy a slice with a well-earned cuppa.

Why has this recipe been donated to Epilepsy Action?

A cup of coffee and a piece of cake can make a real difference for people with epilepsy.

Epilepsy Action’s network of coffee and chat groups can provide a life line to people who might be feeling isolated because of the condition. Coffee and chat groups give people affected by epilepsy an opportunity to come together and share their experiences.

Text ACT NOW to 70700 to donate £5, the cost of a cup of coffee and piece of cake, to Epilepsy Action. Together we can make sure no-one has to face epilepsy alone. Terms and conditions.

Want to hold your own Tea Break?

Each year in October, Epilepsy Action holds a fundraising event called Tea Break, asking people to pop the kettle on, make a brew, bake a cake and have a cuppa with us! The money raised goes towards helping everyone affected by epilepsy in the UK! 

Holding a Tea Break really is a piece of cake! Whether it’s a cup of tea and a cake in your kitchen or a tea party at your workplace, you can hold your Tea Break anywhere and invite anybody along to share the fun. In the past, we have had Tea Breaks registered all over the UK; from Cornwall to Scotland, in schools, homes and workplaces.  

If reading this recipe has inspired you to hold a Tea Break for Epilepsy Action, why not register for your free fundraising pack now and bake a difference?

Request a pack

There are no comments yet. Be the first to comment...