Pomegranates never fail to delight me; their crimson juices and sweet and tart arils provided such joy for me throughout my childhood that they are forever etched in my memory and on my heart. Palestinians also hold this mighty fruit in high esteem, and here I’ve paired it with a dense and sticky almond cake, topped with a light and creamy mascarpone topping, which I love, and which I hope will enliven your passion for this magical fruit, too. You will need an 8 in./20 cm cake pan.
for the cake
1 3/4 sticks/200g unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup/170g superfine sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup/100g flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
about 3 cups/270g ground almonds
finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
5 tablespoons unsweetened pomegranate molasses, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract for the glaze
2 tablespoons sugar
for the topping
1 cup/150g pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 cup/250g mascarpone
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C. Butter an 8 in./20cm cake pan and line it with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. When the mixture is combined, beat in the eggs gradually, beating well between each addition. Then fold in the flour, salt, baking powder and almonds with a large spoon. Fold in the lemon zest and juice, 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses and vanilla, then spoon into the prepared pan. Bake for about 45–50 minutes, or until firm and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
When it is almost ready, make the glaze. Put the 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses and sugar in a saucepan with 3 tablespoons water, place over a medium heat and stir to help the sugar dissolve.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, use a fork to pierce holes in it, then brush the syrup over. Leave to cool in the pan, then turn it out, syrup-side up.
Place the pomegranate seeds in a small bowl with the sugar and leave to macerate for at least 30 minutes. Mix the mascarpone with the yogurt and confectioner’s sugar and spread it thickly over the cake. Finish with the pomegranate seeds and their juices.
Recipe from Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan. Copyright © 2018 by Yasmin Khan. Reprinted with permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.