Wednesday 16 December 2015

Pomegranate molasses butter cake

My friends bought a house. After years of slogging through the Sydney real estate wilderness, ruining their weekends inspecting overpriced, dark, dilapidated terraces and missing out at auctions, they ended up in the perfect place: not in Sydney.... but close enough to commute. Instead of aircraft overhead they have hang-gliders drifting silently down from an impossibly green escarpment up above, instead of staring at their neighbours, they now look at the ocean, and instead of abandoned shopping trolleys on the streets of their neighbourhood, there are swings rigged from trees (mostly with views). There's a lot to celebrate. A cake was called for. 

I came across this recipe just recently via the New York Times Cooking app on my iPad (which I highly recommend for its free access to the newspaper's entire database of recipes as well as handy videos on technique). I loved the simplicity of it - a basic butter cake kicked up a notch by a glamorous (yet inexpensive) ingredient - pomegranate molasses. This dark, sticky syrup is incorporated into every part of the cake - the batter, the frosting and even into the caramelising of the nuts on top - itdistinctive sweet/tart zing offsetting the buttery richness. A lovely diversion from the expected, and all the better for it.

Pomegranate molasses butter cake
Adapted from a recipe in the New York Times by John Willoughby

I baked this in a loaf tin and it turned out really nicely.

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pan
1 ½ cups flour, plus more for dusting pan
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, plus 1 teaspoon
¾ cup sugar, plus 4 teaspoons
3 large eggs
1 cup confectioners’ (icing) sugar
6 tablespoons light cream
¾ cup roughly chopped walnuts or pecans 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch-square baking pan, dust lightly with flour and knock out excess.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine milk and 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses. 

In a large bowl, cream together butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each until well combined. 

Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with milk mixture. (Begin and end with flour, and mix after each addition until just combined.) 

Pour batter into pan and bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges, turn cake out onto a rack, and then turn right side up again. 

Whisk together icing sugar, cream, and 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses. Brush glaze over cake, letting it drip down sides. 

In a small, preferably nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, combine nuts, 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses and 4 teaspoons sugar. Stir constantly and watch carefully until sugar melts and coats nuts, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle over top of cake.

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