The idea for this cake came to me whilst I was having coffee with a friend. I can’t quite remember how it came about, but we were talking about pomegranates and how common place they have become now thanks so chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver. Then it hit me, could you make a cake with pomegranate?
The answer, is yes, kinda. I juiced half a pomegranate for the icing and that worked well. A better colour than any food colouring could give I think! I also added some seeds to the cake batter, however I’m not sure I would add them again. They gave a little crunch and colour to the cake, however they don’t add a lot of flavour and made the process of making the cake more time consuming (and messy). I added them into the batter gently once some of the mixture was already in the cake tin as I didn’t want the seeds to burst before they had gone in the oven.
I think if you are short on time (or patience) ditch the seeds in the cake, and use the other half of the pomegranate to decorate the cake at the end. I also find that pomegranate juice freezes well, so there is always that option - and then there is definitely no food wastage!
And don’t be alarmed about using spelt flour in this cake. It does have a more ‘healthy’ connotation (a quick Google search of ‘benefits of spelt flour’ returns some pleasing results, making me think this cake is on it’s way to being healthy 👍🏻😂), but in this recipe it adds an almond meal like denseness to the cake that gives it an excellent crumb. And it doesn’t taste any different to regular plain flour so no one will even know it’s even there! Plain flour can of course be substituted for the spelt if you don’t have any - but give it a go if you can!
Pistachio & Pomegranate Cake
175g margarine or softened unsalted butter
175g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
125g pistachios, shelled
175g spelt flour (plain or wholemeal)
2 tsp baking powder
pomegranate seeds from one small pomegranate, optional
Ingredients for the Icing:
200g icing sugar, confectioners
juice from 1/2 small pomegranate
1 tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped
Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius and grease and line a 22-23cm springform cake tin.
Using a food processor, grind the pistachios into a fine crumb/meal (the same consistency as almond meal). Don’t over process or you may end up with pistachio nut butter, rather than pistachio meal.
In the bowl of a stand mixer add the margarine and sugar. Beat using the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs separately, beating well after each. Add the vanilla and the ground pistachios and mix until combined.
In a separate bowl whisk together the spelt flour and baking powder, then gently fold into the main cake batter.
If using the pomegranate seeds, spread a third of the cake batter into the prepared tin, then sprinkle half the seeds over the top. Top with another third of cake batter and sprinkle the remaining seeds. Finish with the remaining cake batter. If not adding the pomegranate seeds, transfer the cake batter into the tin and smooth the top.
Bake for about an hour, or until the cake is springy to the touch and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
Leave the cake to cool before removing from the tin.
Once the cake has cooled make the icing by whisking the icing sugar and pomegranate juice together. Add more juice if the mixture is to dry, and more icing sugar if the icing is too runny. Ice the cake with the icing, then sprinkle over the chopped pistachios.
Reference: The Violet Bakery Cookbook’ by Claire Ptak (Ten Speed Press, 2015), p.137.