From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
175 g (6oz) butter, plus extra for greasing (at room temperature)
175 g (6oz) caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
3 eggs, lightly beaten
175 g (6oz) self-raising flour
3 tblsp strong coffee
8 cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground to a powder
300 ml (1/2 pint) double cream, well chilled
75 g (3oz) shelled pistachio nuts, finely chopped (unsalted)
1 tblsp icing sugar
100 g (4oz) icing sugar
1 tblsp strong coffee, warm
Preheat the oven to 190C (375F/Gas 5). Grease 2 x 18cm (7in) non-stick sandwich tins and lightly dust with sugar, shaking out the excess.
Place the butter in a bowl with 175g (6oz) of the sugar and beat with an electric beater or wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and coffee, adding a little of the flour if the mixture begins to curdle.
Sift over the remaining flour and ground cardamom and then fold in, using a large metal spoon or plastic spatula. Divide the cake mixture between the prepared tins and level the top, then make a slight dent in the centre with the back of a wooden spoon. Bake for 25-30 minutes until well risen, firm to the touch and just beginning to shrink from the sides of the tins. Turn the cooked cakes out on to a wire rack and set aside to cool completely.
To make the pistachio cream, place the cream in a bowl and whip until it is just holding its shape, then gently fold in the pistachio nuts and icing sugar. When the cakes have cooled, spread the pistachio cream over one cake and then sandwich the two halves together.
Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually add the coffee. The icing should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If necessary, add a little warm water or more icing sugar to adjust the consistency. Spoon the coffee icing over the cake, allowing it to drizzle down the sides. To serve, cut into wedges and arrange on plates.