Pistachio Cake

My late mother, Irene LaNoue, a journalist and food maven, made this luscious confection every January for my husband Joe’s birthday. My mom called it the Watergate Cake, named after the scandal that caused President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Like the Tricky Dick era, its ingredients were veiled in secrecy. No more. Here it is in all its glory.—Patty LaNoue Stearns


  • 1 package white cake mix (Duncan Hines without pudding mix)
  • 1 package Jell-O or Royal pistachio pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup Wesson oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup club soda, with lots of fizz
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • Oil and flour a Bundt pan. Preheat oven to 350°. Place the first five ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Beat 2–3 minutes on high speed. Fold in the nuts. Bake 45–60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10–20 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a plate.
  • Icing
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip
  • 31/2 ounces pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or dried cherries


Place Cool Whip in medium mixing bowl. Place pudding mix in a smaller bowl; add milk and beat on low until blended. Add to Cool Whip and beat one minute more. Ice the cooled cake and top with nuts or dried cherries. Patty LaNoue Stearns is a freelancer in Traverse City.