We recently had guests travelling from interstate to attend our pasta making workshop at Relish Mama. The male partner phoned me out of the blue the week earlier to see if we had any cooking classes running specifically on the 18th March as this date was his partners birthday and he was surprising her with a cooking class so they could do something fun and different together. The brief was that she was a real foodie and had a real thing for Italian food. This was fete at work here people. The two of us were like giddy school girls – a hands on pasta class running smack bang on her birthday. I could feel our high-fives and fist pumps down the phone lines. Neither of us had ever met or chatted before but the ‘planning chat’ pre class was a lot of fun and after telling me how much he loved this girl and that he would arrive by limousine to us a few minutes before start time, I found I too was getting swept up in the romance. A cake was in order. Something special to be shared at the table as a surprise for her birthday. After the guests had carb loaded on about 7 varieties of pasta and accompanying sauces, something lighter would be needed. This cake below is what I made to share. It was a huge hit – so much so that I didn’t get to try it but I have made it a few times since – always slightly different in presentation but it is absolutely beautiful. It has a lightness and sweetness that is well balanced and the tartness from the pomegranates as well as them shining on the cake like jewels is (for me) a thing of beauty. When out of season, feel free to leave them out or substitute for candied orange or lemon segments or simply serve with orange segments tossed in a little sugar syrup (maybe spiked with a little orange blossom water) and some additional yoghurt.
Feeding people is what I love. This was a very special class with very special guests and one very special cake. Needless to say – I love my job !
Yoghurt, pistachio and pomegranate cake
150g caster sugar
150ml olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g natural yoghurt
300g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
100g pistachios, unsalted and shelled plus a few tablespoons extra to dress the cake with
225g icing sugar
100g natural yoghurt
1 pomegranate, seeds and a little juice both needed
Preheat oven to 160oC.
Line and grease a 20cm springform cake tin.
Place the pistachios in a blender or food processor to grind them to a fine crumb.
Place sugar and oil in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk for 2 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Add the eggs followed by the vanilla extract. Add the yoghurt and combine well. Fold in the flour, baking powder and ground pistachios.
Pour mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-50minutes or until your skewer comes out clean. Leave in tin to cool for 10 minutes and then take out of tin and cool completely on a wire rack.
To prepare the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and blend to a smooth paste with the yoghurt. Pour icing onto cake and smooth it out and down the sides using a spatula (I usually take the lazier approach and let it drip down the sides which also looks quite lovely).
Allow small droplets of pomegranate juice to fall on the cake. You can let it find it’s own style or if you prefer to be more in control, use a toothpick to swirl loosely and gently to form your own pattern through the icing.
Scatter pomegranate seeds and roughly chopped pistachios on top of the cake and around platter to decorate.