Pistachio and pomegranate cake

The Little Paris Kitchen chef and writer, Rachel Khoo, shares her recipe for a fragrant spring-time cake.

Turkish pastries, such as the intensely sweet and extremely sticky baklava, were nothing new to me; however, the pomegranate juice stands that cropped up on Istanbul's street corners were a delightful discovery. The dark red juice makes for a refreshing drink, and although it’s a nightmare if you get it on your clothes, it’s perfect for colouring icing the natural way.

Serves 8–10
Prep time: 20 mins
Baking time: 50 mins

For the sponge
* 2 x 150g pots of natural yoghurt
* 100g pistachio kernels
* 1 x 150g yoghurt pot of caster sugar
* 1 x 150g yoghurt pot of sunflower oil
* 2 eggs, lightly beaten
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 2 x 150g yoghurt pots of plain flour
*  2 tsp baking powder
* ½ tsp sea salt

For the yoghurt icing
* ½ a pomegranate
* 250g icing sugar
* 50g natural yoghurt

* a 20cm springform tin, buttered and floured

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan). Empty the contents of the yoghurt pots into a bowl, then wash and dry them ready to measure the remaining ingredients. You’ll need one for wet ingredients and one for dry ingredients. Whizz the pistachios to a fine powder in a blender.

2. Put the caster sugar and oil in a large bowl or standing mixer bowl, then mix together with an electric hand whisk or the whisk attachment for two minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla extract. Fold in the yoghurt, then add the flour, baking powder, salt and ground pistachios and gently fold them in.

3. Spoon the batter into the tin. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for five minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool.

4. When the cake is cool, place the pomegranate skin side up in your hand with your fingers spread out. Hold the pomegranate just inside a big bowl before hitting the back of the fruit with a wooden spoon. The seeds will fall through the gaps between your fingers.

5. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, then add the yoghurt and mix well to get a thick pouring consistency. Pour on top of the cooled cake, gently guiding it down the sides.

6. Once the icing has stopped dripping, take the pomegranate juice and dot several drops along the top of the cake. Drag a skewer or toothpick in a figure-of-eight pattern through the drips of pomegranate, swirling it all around the cake.

7. Stick the pomegranate seeds to the side of the cake when the icing has stopped dripping. If it’s difficult to make them stick, chill the cake for 10 minutes in the fridge first.

More from Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook:

Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook by Rachel Khoo (Michael Joseph Hardback / £20 / out now)

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