Autumn is in the air and some absolutely gorgeous fruit is in season this time of year to use for unique filling in cakes including the unlikely pomegranate. These vibrant crimson fruits are wonderful to eat and perfect for a great holiday centerpiece cake or trendy wedding cake. One of the biggest movements in cake design is using unusual or unexpected ingredients for filling, icing and cake such as mango, pomegranate or macadamia nuts. These changes to traditional combinations make planning a special event fun and the event can truly represent the couple or individual being celebrated. Many home bakers avoid the pomegranate because it is a lot of work to pry all those tiny jewel like seeds out of the skin but in the end it is worth it when you see the results of your efforts.
Pomegranates are ancient symbols of fertility and have a rich history beyond their culinary characteristics. They are mentioned by Mohammed, in the bible, in various ancient texts such as the Odyssey and Arabian Nights. They are round fruits with a tough skin that hides a bounty of juicy ruby red kernels encased in a lattice of cells. Pomegranates can be very bitter but when ripe are deliciously tart and packed with nutritional benefits. They have no fat, no cholesterol, are rich in antioxidants which have been attributed to helping treat high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, parasites, chronic infections, obesity, diabetes, cancer and canker sores. So you are not only making a tasty delectable cake but using healthy disease fighting ingredients as well! Pomegranates also have a gorgeous deep red hue which can be stunning when combined with a vanilla cake.
Pomegranate jellies are wonderful fillings for cakes and cupcakes and have the most incredible color and fragrance. This jelly can also be thinned and used as a shiny red glaze for fruit topped creations. The tart fresh taste of pomegranate combines quite well with most ingredients and can even be used to tint a red velvet cake with a little tweaking instead of beets or food coloring.
Some great combinations for cakes using pomegranate jelly can include:
- Lemon sponge cake
- Vanilla bean
- Orange sheet cake
- Deep dark chocolate cake
- Apple cake
- Carrot cake
- Spice cake
- White chocolate
This recipe takes a work and time but the finished product is definitely worth the time taken to create such a gorgeous versatile product. Don't be afraid if you have never made any kind of jelly because the process is straightforward.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Yield: About 4 cups
- 7 large pomegranates, peeled with the membranes removed and seeds separated. An easy way to separate the seeds is to completely immerse the pomegranate in water (the seeds float!)
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 ounces liquid pectin
- Over medium high heat in a large heavy saucepan combine the separated seeds with about 2 Tbsps. of water. Cover with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kernels are tender, approximately 10 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Be careful to use older clothes and wear work clothes during this process because the rich red juice will stain everything.
- Take a piece of cheesecloth and drape it over the strainer covering the whole surface.
- Pour the liquid and cooked pomegranate kernels into the strainer.
- Carefully gather the ends of the cheesecloth together and twist them to form a pouch. The seeds will still be quite warm so take care not to burn yourself. Squeeze the makeshift bag tightly to extract all the pomegranate juice.
- Discard the bag full of seeds when all the liquid is out.
- Pour the extracted juice back in a saucepan and simmer it until the liquid measures about 2 cups.
- Transfer the juice to a medium saucepan and add the lemon juice and sugar. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- Add the pectin and return to the heat back to a boil for about 1 minute stirring the mixture constantly.
- Fill hot pre sterilized jars with the pomegranate jelly to about 1/4-inch of the rim.
- Wipe the rims carefully and screw on hot sterilized rings and lids.
- Finished the sterilizing process and store the jars in a cool place.
- This jelly is wonderful spread between cake layers and will not make your cake soggy.