This cake, gang. The thing about this cake… I made it almost out of obligation. I’d seen the recipe ages ago. I’d long had the best of intentions for finding new and interesting things to do with pomegranate molasses: a staple in Middle Eastern cooking. That’s one of my favorite cuisines (and goodness knows I have many), but seeing as pomegranate molasses is used a tablespoon or two at a time in that context, I needed other uses for that outrageously delicious substance. Which, if you’re wondering, is really just super-concentrated, thick pomegranate juice.
Anyway, I have an eternal case of “too many things in the brainsphere at once.” Sometimes I wish I could dump them all out and invest in some sort of card catalog. That’s why amazing recipes get shuffled around or forgotten–too many ideas, you know? To be honest, I thought this cake sounded kind of boring. Just your basic cake, with pomegranate molasses added, which may or may not be all that noticeable anyway.
Well, let me tell you: what a lesson in not underestimating a simple addition, or a single ingredient. As I mentioned before, the way I’d used it was in Middle Eastern recipes for just a bit of tartness to balance out all kinds of wonderful flavors. But when I let pomegranate molasses do its thing in a cake? MAN. It shone like that was its job. This cake would certainly hold its own without any frills, with its soft crumb and delicately fruity (but absolutely noticeable) aroma. The topping, though? A-plus all around. Bright, creamy, not-too-sweet icing. Equally tangy, sugar-coated, nutty pumpkin seeds. Yeah. I am sort of in love with this cake.
I already apologized to it for not making it sooner. I’m hoping you don’t make the same mistake I did… But we can all rectify it together. With flour, butter, sugar, milk, egg, and that foxy beast of a secret ingredient hiding in the background.
Yup, that’s the one.
Easy. Easy as cake.
Originally, this calls for a walnut or pecan topping, but pepitas, as they often do, spoke to me. If you can’t find them unsalted, I have a sneaky feeling that a touch of salt would make this even better. Perhaps be a little less liberal with the sprinkling, though–or not, depending on how much you like salt. (I haven’t tried this, so please don’t be mad if it’s a lousy idea after all.)
You can see it naked.
Because it only gets more scandalous from there.
So scandalous, I couldn’t stop myself with the pictures. This is as photogenic as it is fragrantly, fruitily, nuttily, tenderly delicious. Make it! Don’t wait too long. Don’t be like me.
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
- 1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for the pan
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, plus 1 teaspoon, divided use
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 4 teaspoons, divided use
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 6-7 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a bundt pan by either buttering, then dusting lightly with flour and gently shaking out the excess, or using baking spray.
- In a medium bowl, sift 1 1/2 cups flour with the baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, combine milk and 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses.
- In a large bowl, using a mixer, cream together the stick of butter and 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the flour and milk mixtures, alternating between three additions of the flour and two additions of the milk.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean--25-30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely.
- To make the pumpkin seed topping: if your pumpkin seeds are already toasted, combine them in a small skillet over medium-high heat with 4 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of pomegranate molasses, stirring constantly, until sugar is melted and seeds are coated. If they're raw, simply toast them in the skillet, watching carefully, until fragrant and slightly browned, before adding the sugar and pomegranate molasses. Set aside.
- To make the icing, whisk together the confectioners' sugar with 6 tablespoons cream and 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses. Add another tablespoon of cream if it seems too thick to pour. Pour over the cake, then top cake with the pumpkin seeds.