Can I let you in on a secret? I actually don't like some of the traditional British Christmas edibles such as Christmas pudding, most Christmas cakes, or Mince Pies (there is a reason why I posted my Mother's personal recipe last year!) Yeah, I know. But I like what I like. You'll find me in the corner by the Italian 75 cocktails and the Festive Spice Biscuits. Anyway, this Christmas for my Borough Market column I've come up with the sort of Christmas celebration cake I to actually want to eat: a Ginger & Pomegranate Sandwich Cake.
The sponge is a classic Victoria Sandwich, but flavoured with the spices you'd traditionally find in a gingerbread traybake. I just did not want to deal with all of that black treacle, and I think a lighter sponge during this heavy festive period is rather welcome, anyway. It is also much easier to make.
The frosting sandwiched in the middle of the cake, and slathered on top is a basic cream cheese mix, spiked with freshly grated orange zest for yet more festivity. Then, both on top of and on the middle layer of the cake you want to sprinkle some freshly picked pomegranate seeds (these add bursts of freshness and crunch, as well as being very pretty to look at), and drizzle a bit of pomegranate molasses. Not only does this up the pomegranate factor of the cake, and also look pretty special, but it adds a little bit of welcome sharpness and tartness that helps cut through the sweetness of the icing. Yep, it is recipes like this I invent in my head when I'm supposed to be doing paperwork. (My adult step up from inventing recipes in university classes!)
One thing to keep in mind when you're making this cake, is that because it is made with cream cheese frosting you need to keep it refrigerated, but remember to bring it up to room temperature before you serve it. I'd also recommend you eat it within 48 hours of making it, but I honestly don't see that as being a problem. Because I thought I'd become rather larger if I ate the whole thing myself I took the half we did not eat at home the day it was baked into the boat club with me, and the staff polished it off pretty quickly!
- 175g (6 oz) Margarine (or Unsalted Butter, at room temperature)
- 175g (6 oz) Golden Caster Sugar
- 170g (6 oz, minus 1 tsp) Self-Raising Flour (America, this is how you make the flour)
- 3 Large Eggs
- 2 tsp Ground Ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1 tbsp Hot Water
- 300g (10.5 oz) Icing Sugar
- 50g (2 oz) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
- 120g (4.2 oz) Full Fat Cream Cheese, at room temperature
- Zest of 1/4 Orange
- 1 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses
- Seeds of 1 Pomegranate
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (355 fahrenheit) and line two sandwich cake tins. Cream together the margarine and the caster sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Fold in the flour, ginger and cinnamon until everything is combined and there are no lumps. Stir in the hot water until smooth and divide the mixture between the two tins, if using two. Smooth out over the top, and shake the tins from side to side to remove air bubbles, but so that you don’t bash out all the air. Bake for 20-25 minutes until you can insert a knife into the middle and it still comes out clean.
While the cakes are cooling (turn them out of the tin when they are cool enough to touch and onto a cooling wrack) make the cream cheese icing. Beat together the butter and icing sugar until they have created a sandy texture, and follow with the cream cheese until smooth. Add the orange zest and beat to combine.
Once the sponges are completely cool you can assemble your sponge. Place one of the sponge halves on your serving plate. If you’ve sliced the sponge, do this crumb side down. Spoon just under half of the cream cheese icing on top and spread our evenly, just to the edges. Drizzle with 1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses and sprinkle with just under half of the pomegranate seeds.
Take the second sponge and spread a thin layer of icing onto the half you’re going to put directly down on the cake. This will stop the molasses seeping too much into the sponge. Gently place it on top, and spread the remaining icing out over the top. Drizzle with the remaining molasses, and sprinkle with the remaining pomegranate seeds.
I can't wait to hear how you get on with this cake! I'd also love to hear about some of the festive foods that you're supposed to love, but you don't! I can't be the only one who is not totally head over heels for the whole arsenal of festive favourites?