I first made this cake for a book club meet-up and it went down so well I made it one December weekend as well. And that’s also when I tweaked the recipe to what it is below. The original recipe called for lingonberry jam which I omitted even the first time, but I thought the spices could come through a bit more as well and after my tweaks I’m very happy with it!
So next time you want a festive cake, try this! I promise it’s a welcome change from mince pies and other cakes heavy on dried fruit. This is still a spiced cake but much lighter and, dare I say – fresher – with its cream cheese frosting and juice bursting pomegranate seeds!
Gingerbread sponge with cream cheese frosting and pomegranate seeds, serves 8
Adapted from Brinken Bakars recipe.
75 g butter
1 1/2 eggs
135 g caster sugar
125 g plain flour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150 g buttermilk
Pre-heat the oven to 175C. Butter a baking tin. Melt the butter and put aside. Mix flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and bicarb in a bowl. In another bowl whisk eggs and sugar pale and fluffy with an electric whisk. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix well. Add the buttermilk and lastly the melted butter and mix well. Pour the batter into the baking tin and place in the middle of the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
75 g softened salted butter
80 g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
150 g cold cream cheese (preferably full fat Philadelphia)
110 g pomegranate seeds
Cream the butter for approx 5 minutes using an electric whisk. Add icing sugar and vanilla and beat for another few minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until well incorporated.
Let the cake cool and put it on a cake plate. Spread the frosting on top and decorate with pomegranate seeds.
I found this gorgeous (and easy!) recipe on the BBC Food website and just instantly knew I had to make it. It’s courtesy of Sabrina Ghayour who’s lovely cookbook Persiana I absolutely adore. The Persian pesto with pistachios contains dill, a herb that’s very Scandinavian for me, and I like exploring new ways of using it.
I had this for supper one day, but it works just as well at a mezze table, as a starter or on a buffet.
Butternut squash with Persian pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds, serves 4
Adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe
1 large butternut squash, quartered lengthways (skin-on), and seeds removed
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
150 g feta
100 g pomegranate seeds
For the pesto:
100 g pistachios
70 g parmesan
100 ml olive oil
1 small bunch coriander
1 small bunch parsley
1 small bunch dill
1 red chilli
1 lemon, juice only
2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Rub each wedge of butternut squash with oil and season generously. Place on the lined baking tray. Roast the squash for about 45-50 minutes, just until the edges have begun to brown slightly. Check the squash is cooked by inserting a knife – if it slides in easily the squash is cooked.
For the pesto, add the pistachios and cheese to a food processor. Pulse to break them into small pieces and add enough olive oil to slacken the mixture to your desired consistency (you may not need all the oil). Add all the herbs and a little more olive oil. Season generously with sea salt and give the mixture one last pulse. Taste the pesto, to make sure it has enough salt and acidity, and allow it to rest in the fridge until you need it.
To serve, place the butternut squash on plates, drizzled generously with the pesto. Crumble your feta over the top and scatter some pomegranate seeds over to finish.
As always when I go on holiday, i filled my bags with groceries when I was on my way home from Syria. Soon thereafter I bought the fabulous cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi and he uses alot of the things I brought back in his recipes. Perfect or what?!
These two recipes from Plenty don’t require any strange ingredients though, and I highly recommend you trying them. I utterly adored the aubergine dish, but my boyfriend fell in love with the courgettes. I have followed the recipes, but have veganised them where needed. You find the stuffed courgette recipe here in which I omitted the currants. It is from Ottolenghi’s culumn The New Vegetarian on the Guardian’s website, where many of the recipes in Plenty are from.
And below you find my adapted recipe for the baked aubergines with pomegranate.
Baked aubergine with pomegranate, serves 4 or 6 as a buffet
2 medium aubergines
150 ml soy cream
1 garlic clove
juice from 1/2 lemon
Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and place them skin down in a greased roasting tray. Cut a diaond pattern in the flesh with a knife, being carfel not to pierce the skin. Brush with olive oil a few times, so it gets soaked up by the aubergine. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and a few thyme sprigs. Add salt and pepper. Bake in 200C for 40 minutes. Leave to cool completely.
Mix the soy cream wuth garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. Pour it over the aubergines just before serving and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.