Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pistachio Pomegranate Cake with Mastiha Cream Cheese Glaze

I was inspired to make this cake using the mastiha crystals the Mastihashop in New York sent me. Mastiha comes from the island of Chios and has been used since ancient times for both its health benefits and its distinct herbal flavor. Instead of baking the crystals in a traditional tsoureki (Greek sweet bread), I wanted to highlight the pure, clean flavor without any exposure to heat so I ground up some into powder and blended it into a frosting to give that extra punch on top of a Mediterranean inspired cake with pistachios and pomegranate. This cake is more of a pound cake, which is traditional to the cakes in Greece - they aren't fluffy and airy - they are dense and compelling. 

This batter has originated from a Cooking Light version and now is my go-to batter for pound cakes. It's moist, dense and not overly heavy. The batter is just as lovely without the pomegranates and pistachios, so if you don't have any don't let that stop you from making this! Vanilla or almond flavoring would also be excellent. 

Pistachio Pomegranate Cake with Mastiha Cream Cheese Glaze

For the cake
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds (1 pomegranate)
1/2 cup  plus 1/4 cup roasted pistachios, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
Cooking spray

For the glaze
3-4 mastiha crystals, ground
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350°.
Beat sugar and butter at medium-high speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add eggs and egg white, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, vanilla, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in pomegranate seeds and orange zest and 1/2 cup of pistachios.
Spoon batter into round cake pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Make the glaze by beating the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth and light. Blend in milk, vanilla and mastiha until smooth. Poor over cooled cake. Top with remaining pistachios. 


Peter M said...

I'm floored....you used butter!! :O

That galze looks awesome...reminds me of Vanillia with Mastiha and the cake itself is super-moist. Props to Banana!

Mary Bergfeld said...

Now I'm really intrigued. This is quite different and that has an automatic appeal to me. I'm on my to find find a source for the Mastiha. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

You did it again Anna...your Greek gasto adventures paid off with this amazing creation. Great use of the mastiha as part of the glaze.

Helen said...

What a beautiful cake! The flavours must be out of this world. I really enjoy mastiha flavoured things. I'm sure the mastiha cream cheese glaze takes this cake to whole other level. Excellent work!

Anonymous said...

Please bring this over to my house and spoon feed me

Catherine said...

I've been seeing a lot of recipes with pomegranate lately.
This cake looks so delicious and wonderful Anna!


Dewi said...

This cake sounds really moreish Anna. Love the ingredients, especially pomegranate and pistachios. And, I learn a new ingredient as well, Mastiha! Thank you.

Ivy said...

The cake looks beautiful and I can imagine the amazing masticha cream cheese glaze on top.

Esi said...

I love the way you've kicked up pomegranate cake!

tasteofbeirut said...

I love mastic, use it daily: it is my only sinm I chew it for hours mixed with plain wax. Now I never thought of using it in a frosting, what a swell idea! I like that your cake only has 1/2 cup of sugar in the frosting too, instead of the usual 4 cups! Great cake!

Banana Wonder said...

Peter - What is pound cake without butter? Goes even better with mastiha, psh please.

Mary - You should order some from mastihashopny.com! It's super cool getting mysterious crystals in the mail.

Peter - Efharistw! I kinda want to carry some crystals around me in my pocket from now on.

Helen - I'm thinking mastiha frappe next? lol what do you think?

Peaseporridge - knock, knock... I'm outside your door.

Catherine - Yeah, I think it's the domination of POM wonderful :-)

Elra - You should order some crystals from the mastihashopny.com!

Ivy - Thank you kind lady!

Esi - I think I have kinda ODed on pom's here. I will stop for now. But continue to make pound cakes :-)

tasteofbeiriut - Props for the lower sugar. I didn't want the mastiha to be murdered by sugar (which sugar can do to flavors as you probably know).

Helen said...

Anna, as I'm not a coffee drinker I can't say for certain that mastiha frappe would be a good thing LOL! Try it out and let me know what you think :) However, I can totally see a mastiha panna cotta in your future. What would you drizzle over the panna cotta? Hmm maybe chocolate infused with fruity olive oil? Or a light rose water syrup with organic dried rose petals?

Banana Wonder said...

Helen - Love that panna cotta idea! I like the two syrup ideas too, although I've had chocolate with mastiha before and didn't really dig it. I like mastiha with vanilla better, so maybe a vanilla syrup? Or maybe mastiha creme brulee? I will try the mastiha frappe when it gets warmed and I get a canister of nescafe... and some hot pink straws :-)

Helen said...

Oh yes! Mastiha Creme brulee! Go for it :) & yes, to vanilla syrup too!

tobias kocht! said...

thats what I call a Greek cake!

Banana Wonder said...

Helen - I have never made creme brulee before so I will have to look into this. Def need to invest in a torch (YES!).

Tobias - Thanks, glad you agree :-)