Pistachio, courgette and lemon cake (reduced sugar low carb version)

This was one of my experiments to try and make a tasty cake with less carbs and it turned out pretty well. Courgette provides a natural sweetness, so cutting down on the added sugar was not so obvious in the cake itself. I also replaced the regular white icing with cream cheese mixed with splenda, which is an incredibly versatile ‘no sugar’ icing.

The texture of this was really great. The cake was really moist, but also had the crunch of the pistachios. And lemon cake is one of my favourites, so this was always going to be a winner for me. I used reduced sugar lemon curd that I bought from a farmer’s market…and haven’t seen since. So I’ve included regular lemon curd in this recipe as that what I’m likely to be using in future.

The changes made to the original recipe cut the carbs down from approx 45g per portion, to approx 25g, which is a great result that hasn’t compromised on taste. This recipe is a keeper!

Serves 15

Pistachio, courgette and lemon cake

35Prep Time

40Cook Time

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  • 150g shelled pistachios
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 200g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 280g plain flour
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 140g sour cream
  • zest and juice 2 lemons
  • 140g coarsely grated courgette
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 1 tsp splenda
  • 2 tbsp lemon curd


  1. Put 125g of the pistachios and the sugar in a food processor and whizz until the nuts are very finely ground.
  2. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4, grease a 20 x 30cm cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. Tip the pistachio sugar into a big mixing bowl with the butter, flour, baking powder and bicarb, eggs, sour cream and the zest and juice from 2 of the lemons. Beat with an electric whisk until smooth and combined.
  3. Stir in the courgette until everything is well mixed, then scrape into the prepared tin. Bake for 35-40 mins until the cake is risen and golden, and a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool.
  4. When the cake has fully cooled, remove from the tin and peel off the baking parchment. Mix the cream cheese and the splenda in a bowl. Use a piping bag to drizzle thickly over the cake, and repeat with lemon curd, if you like. Roughly chop the remaining pistachios and scatter over the icing, along with the remaining lemon zest. Leave to set for 10 mins, then cut into squares. Will keep for 3 days in an airtight tin.