Lemon Layer Cake with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

  With the vast amount of flowers on display for Valentine’s Day, there was only one reasonable excuse for me to buy a lovely bouquet: cake.  It is nothing extravagant, just a simple lemon layer cake.  Four, delectable and moist layers might I add, with the right amount of lemon to them.  I about gave up on the recipe, to be honest.  Twice it failed on the density and moist scale, with a mouthfeel like cornbread.  The lemon flavor was just right, though.  The third time was the charm, and with the addition of applesauce, the outcome was just as I wanted: a moist, tender crumb with layers that rose nicely.

  Over time I have tried many buttercream methods, from meringue buttercreams to your standard American buttercream.  One of my favorites will always be German Buttercream, it’s absolutely amazing.  So, I have gotten in the habit of basing most my buttercreams on a flavored custard.  It’s easy to infuse with different flavors and is never too sweet.  For this lemon cake, I infused coconut flakes into the milk, which then goes into eggs and sugar to create a smooth custard.  Due to the presence of egg yolk, I wasn’t able to keep it white in color, instead, it’s a pale yellow.

lemon layer cake from afar

lemon layer cake from afar

These warm February days have had me aching for spring to arrive.  It was one of the reasons that spurred me to create this very spring-like cake.  I’ve already noticed changes everywhere, however small they may be.  The days are getting slightly longer and the tulips have begun peeking out from beneath the loose soil; the birds have become even more melodious in song as the days grow increasingly warm and longer.  Those may be just a few changes, but they’re enough to fuel me through the remaining days of winter.  I love spring as it inspires me to continually change and grow, whereas in winter something seems to die within me, along with the fallen leaves.  It’s hard to find inspiration, so I always feel stuck, like nothing can grow.  But, come spring or just things that remind me of spring, I find that those parts of me were just dormant, like buds on the trees and shrubs; just by a few days exposure of warmth, they are reminded their time to bloom is near.  

 On the subject of seasonal change, there will be much change to this blog come summer: a complete renovation, including a new name.  It has been in the back of my mind for some time now.  When I started this blog, I really needed a name to get things moving, so I pulled one from thin air, and as it turns out, one I’m very unhappy with.  To me, ‘The Sticky Spatula’ is a bit hollow.  I would like a title with meaning, one that’s flexible with the content I want to produce.  I would like to share more of my photography that isn’t strictly baked goods, and I feel my current title keeps me in a box, so to speak.  None of this is in the works yet, but it will be in the next month or so, hopefully.  I’m excited about these changes, but at the same time frightened as I’ll be switching to a different platform.  I can only hope the move will be smooth and without losing any of my current content.

close up flowers on lemon layer cake

top of lemon layer cake

sliced lemon layer cake view

slice of lemon layer cake

slice of lemon layer cake


LEMON LAYER CAKE WITH COCONUT BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

cake

260 grams cake flour ( 2  1/3 cup ) 

30 grams unbleached all-purpose flour  ( 1/4 c )

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

300 grams sugar ( 1  1/2 c )

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp.

2 large, whole eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temp.

2 teaspoons pure lemon extract

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

130 mL almond milk, room temp. ( 2/3 c ) 

coconut buttercream

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

2 cups whole milk

3 teaspoons cake flour

3 teaspoons cornstarch

1 large egg yolk

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temp.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

pinch of salt

METHOD:

for the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and line with parchment paper two, 6-inch (or two eight-inch) pans.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric standing mixer with whisks attached, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 6-7 minutes.   Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and add the lemon extract and egg yolk, beating on low until just combined.  Add the two whole eggs and beat until combined, about 20 seconds.  Add one-third of the flour, half the milk, the applesauce, and lemon zest; beat on medium speed until just combined, then scrape down the bowl.  Add the remaining milk and another third of the flour and beat until just combined.  Scrape down the bowl once more and add the remaining third of the flour, beating until no flour is seen(about 10 seconds).
  4.  Pour the batter equally amongst the two prepared pans, making sure they’re no more than half full.  Spread around evenly.  Bake for 30-37 minutes, checking for doneness at 30 minutes.  They’re done when the cake springs back up when lightly touched with your finger.  Remove from oven and let them cool in their pans for 10 minutes.  Then, using a sharp knife, loosen the cake from around the edges of the pan and invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

for the buttercream

  1. Line a tall baking sheet with plastic wrap and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized saucepan, add the milk, coconut flakes, and sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Once boiling, remove from heat and let it sit until cool to the touch.  Once cooled, pour into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour the milk through a very fine-meshed sieve or a straining bag over a clean, saucepan.   Discard the coconut pieces(or re-use by toasting in the oven).  Measure out 1/4 cup of the milk and set aside, then bring the saucepan back to a boil; removing from heat once it begins to boil.  
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cornstarch, egg yolk, and the 1/4 cup of cooled milk.  While whisking the egg mixture, pour in half of the hot milk.  Strain the egg mixture back into the remaining milk and continue to whisk over medium heat until thickened and smooth.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread around evenly.  Cover with another layer of plastic so it doesn’t form a skin.  Place in the freezer until cool to touch(it should not have a hint of warmth to it, nor should it be cold).
  4.  With an electric hand mixer with whisks attached, beat the butter along with a pinch of salt, until smooth.  Add the cooled custard and powdered sugar and beat until pale in color and fluffy.  It may look curdled in the first stages, but continue to beat until it comes together.  

assemble the cake

  If the cakes have a dome, be sure to level it off before commencing the second step.  Once each cake has been leveled off, carefully halve each cake into two smaller layers.  You should have four, equal layers in total.  Place the first layer bottom side down on a cake board/stand/plate.  Spread about 1/2 cup of the buttercream around evenly using an offset spatula.  Place the second layer evenly on top of the first, and add the same amount of frosting.  Continue to frost and stack each layer until all the layers are intact.  Use the remaining frosting to frost the top of the cake and around the edges.  Decorate with fresh flowers and coconut flakes, even dried lemon slices.

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Chocolate Banana Date Cake {Gluten and Dairy Free}

  “I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

  I haven’t put much thought into blogging or recipe writing during these last three weeks.  To be honest, my mind just hasn’t been thinking about what I’m going to bake next, or what to post.  But instead, what is right and what is wrong; truth, and not lies.  It’s mentally exhausting keeping an informed mind about the happenings of the world; there’s so much discourse going on all at once it can really drive you into despondency.  A little break can do one good.

  January was, undoubtedly, a troublesome month for so many.  The anger, disgust, and fear- they’re all legitimate responses to our current political situation in the United States.  I myself have been battling pessimistic thoughts regarding our country’s new leadership.  It’s quite difficult maintaining an optimistic outlook, but I am trying my best.  It’s really important that we do, even more so that we continue loving each other through it all and not turn our hearts to hate.  That we keep on doing what we can to make our world a better place for all to live in.  

  On a lighter note, I was able to contrive at least one recipe while on hiatus: this chocolate banana date cake.  Delectable and light is every bite; much like powdered sugar that melts in your mouth upon arrival on the tongue.  It is in every aspect, the perfect combination of chocolate and banana, with a hint of cinnamon.  On every slice, a sticky, sweet date to account for the lack of extreme sweetness.  It works well as a midnight snack, or breakfast when you’re feeling like cake.  It goes rather well with a hot cup of coffee, too.  I shall close in saying that it’s completely gluten-free and dairy-free, as well as being utterly delicious if I haven’t stated that enough.  


CHOCOLATE BANANA DATE CAKE

cake

2 cups brown rice flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup coconut palm sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil

2 large eggs, room temp.

2 bananas

4 dates, pitted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup almond milk

4 more dates, pitted and halved

method:

  1. Preheat oven 350°F / 177°C.  Grease and line a 9-inch cake pan.
  2. In a blender/food processor, blend together the four pitted dates and two bananas until smooth.  set aside.  Slice four more dates into halves and remove the pits.  Set aside for later use.
  3.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the rice flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.   
  4. In an electric mixer with whisks attached, beat the sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla on medium speed until fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low until each one is fully incorporated.  Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl once more.  Add the banana mixture, half of the flour, and half of the almond milk; beat on medium speed until combined, then add the remaining flour and almond milk until the flour is just combined and no white streaks can be seen.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and evenly spread around.  Place the halved dates on top of the batter, insides facing up.  Do not press them into the batter, they should only be resting on top of the cake.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, checking for doneness at 35 minutes by using a toothpick; if it comes out clean it is done, if it comes out wet, bake in three minutes segments until it does come out clean and the cake springs back up after being lightly touched.  Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.  When cool, dust with powdered sugar if desired.
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DOUGHNUTS WITH VANILLA ORANGE CRÈME PÂTISSIÈRE

  There’s nothing quite like a fresh, warm doughnut.  With their golden skin and sugar-dusted tops; their daintiness cannot be matched.  Even more so when they’re filled with a scrumptiously smooth crème pâtissière, with its subtle hint of vanilla bean flavor and tangy zest from a plump mandarin orange.  Just writing about it and looking through the photos has me wanting to make a dozen of them again and it’s only been three days since the last one was devoured.  Is it acceptable to fry doughnuts twice in one week?  Considering the gross amount of ingredients I went through to get this recipe working, it’s probably not such a bright idea when I put my cravings aside and face reality.

  Writing recipes and testing their outcome can be quite the beast sometimes.  It’s definitely not easy, but it is fun to learn.  Yes, even when the majority of the tests are failures over success.  I remember when I first began baking, I was afraid to bake something using my own formula.  I  couldn’t see myself baking from scratch and having it turn out edible(low self-esteem much?).  Recipe writing, I thought, was something you had to have a special brain cell for, much like how some can draw a cat but others just draw a stick figure(that’s so not me).  It is silly, I know, but I have my naive, fifteen-year-old self to thank for that.  My current nineteen-year-old self would love to go back to that {extremely} naive fifteen-year-old and explain to her just how you don’t need a special brain to do anything.  You’re fully capable of anything with the brain you have as long as you have the drive and determination to do it.  All it takes is stepping out of the wall you safely sit behind, even when it looks scary.  I still have much to learn on the basis of baking, but I am thankful I’m much more confident in what I do.  There’s so much freedom when you regain your confidence in something.

  I was so relieved when they turned out, it was my third try in one day.  I threw so much dough away as it was unusable; I really wanted to hit myself(I absolutely despise food waste of any kind).  I already have a few doughnut recipes on this blog, but these ones have to be the best I’ve come up with so far.  They rose so beautifully and each doughnut had the “proof line” when I removed them from the hot oil.  I’ve tried many times to get that line around the centers of my doughnuts, it’s taken a year or so of revising my own recipe to do so.  If I seem overly excited about this recipe, this is why.  Call me peculiar, if you may.  Alas, they’re still not as quintessential as your favorite bakery doughnut, but I feel I am getting pretty close to it.


DOUGHNUTS WITH VANILLA ORANGE CRÈME PÂTISSIÈRE

makes 12 doughnuts

doughnuts:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup water, hot(110 – 115°F)

2 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast

3 tablespoons whole milk, warm

1 whole egg, room temperature

1 egg yolk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

vegetable oil for frying(about 5 cups)

powdered sugar for dusting

 

crème pâtissière:

1 cup whole milk

1/2 of a vanilla bean

1 tablespoon fresh orange zest

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1 tablespoon unbleached cake flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

METHOD:

for the doughnuts 

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and nutmeg; set aside.  Add the whole egg and egg yolk together and slightly whisk with a fork, set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric standing mixer/KitchenAid with a dough hook attached, add the hot water and sprinkle in the yeast, slightly whisk the two together then add the whisked egg yolks and turn the mixer on low to mix until just combined.  Add the flour and 3 tablespoons of warm milk and turn the mixer on low.  Mix the ingredients together until a firm but moist dough forms, this will only take a few minutes.  It’s done when the dough wipes clean the sides and bottom of the bowl.  If the dough happens to be too dry, add a tablespoon(or more) of warm water until it comes together.  Turn the mixer on medium speed and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time.  Before adding each new tablespoon, be sure the previous tablespoon has been fully incorporated.  Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if needed.  The dough should be smooth, shiny, and elastic with a slight stickiness to the touch.  Lightly butter a large bowl and place the dough inside.  Let the dough rise, covered with a thin cloth, in a warm, dry place until doubled in size; 50 minutes to an hour.  Once risen, punch down with your fist.  
  3. Lightly flour a large, flat surface and divide the dough into two halves.  Roll the first half out to 1/2-inch thickness and cut out rounds with a glass cup or a large cookie cutter.  Cut out as many rounds as possible and place them two inches apart on a large baking sheet covered with a thin, non-terry cloth towel, just lightly dusted with flour.  Cover the doughnuts with a thin cloth and let them rise in a warm, dry place for 35-50 minutes.  While the doughnuts are rising, you can begin making the custard.
  4. Once the doughnuts have risen, uncover and let them “dry out” until the oil is ready.  Place the oil in a large pot/fryer until it is a few inches deep, the oil should be heated to 375°F.  Once heated, add two doughnuts at a time and fry 50-60 seconds on each side, until they are a medium golden color.  Place them on cooling racks with towels underneath to catch the grease drippings.  Repeat this process until all the doughnuts have been fried.  Cool them completely before filling with custard.
  5. When the doughnuts have cooled completely, poke a hole through the side of the doughnuts and pipe in the custard until they’re filled.  Dust with powdered sugar.

crème pâtissière:

  1. Line a rectangular pan(that has edges)with plastic wrap and set aside.  
  2. Cut a vanilla bean in half and split it open; scrape out the seeds and set them both aside(the pod and seeds).  Reserve three tablespoons of the milk in a bowl and add the remaining milk to a medium-sized saucepan along with the butter, 2 tablespoon sugar, orange zest, and vanilla bean pod with the seeds.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then remove from heat to steep for five minutes.  Remove the vanilla bean pod(and zest, if wanted).  Bring the milk back to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and remaining sugar in a small bowl.  Place the egg yolks in a large bowl, add the flour mixture and the three tablespoons of milk and whisk until combined.  Remove the simmering milk from the heat and stream half of it into the egg mixture while whisking.  Pour this egg mixture back into the remaining milk and continue to whisk over medium heat.  Once you start to feel the mixture begin to thicken, remove from heat and whisk constantly until you have a thick, smooth custard.  Return custard to medium heat and whisk continuously until the mixture begins to boil and cook for one minute(this is to cook the starch flavor out).  Immediately pour the custard into the prepared pan and evenly spread around.  Cover with another layer of plastic, making sure that it sticks to the custard(this is so it will not form a skin).  Place in the freezer until completely cool, this may take 15-20 minutes.
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SPICY VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHUNK GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES

  Today’s recipe is a start to a new path, a path I’m really excited to journey down when it comes to baking.  I’m not switching over to a completely different baking method, mind you- I just wanted to start including the more alternative ways you can bake, whether it’s a completely plant-based recipe, a more traditional one, or somewhere in between.  I’m always looking to open my mind and try new things, well because that’s how you learn!

When I think of ginger molasses cookies, I think of round, flat, cracked tops(much like the ginger cookies I created last year); and their texture and taste just right.  I was prepared to be challenged as I’d never veered off the path of your usual ingredients: wheat flour, eggs, milk, and butter.  And I was, indeed, challenged by it.  I read so many different articles of what I should be pairing with what and to be honest, I was about to pull every hair off my scalp.  I now have a much higher reverence for those that must bake this way due to their health or conscious; you really do sacrifice a lot of things, one of them being your product won’t always look as dazzling as the original.  But, that doesn’t always mean the taste and texture aren’t delicious, they may even be better than the original!  “All that glisters is not gold”, as Shakespeare wrote, right?

  Anyway, I tried my hardest to get these cookies posted before New Year’s Eve(and I did!).  Originally, they were to be posted the beginning of this week, but I sat down and uploaded the photos I had taken before I left for Christmas, only to find I was very displeased at how they turned out.  I spent all of Thursday revising and testing the recipe I wrote out and finally, after the fourth baking attempt, they came out as I wanted- Slight crunch around the edges, but the middle soft, chocolatey and spicy.  You’re probably thinking what made me want to put chili pepper inside a cookie.  Well, I love spicy things and chocolate, so I thought I’d give the molasses cookie a slight twist.  Also because I picked a bunch of chili peppers out of the garden this summer and let them sit in the kitchen to dry and they looked so nice, so I crushed them up and threw them in.  It goes so well with the other spices!

  It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to an end, I feel it was just yesterday we were all celebrating the start!  A lot has happened in these twelve short months, but I’m ready for 2017.  I’m looking forward to trying new things, things that challenge me to think, see, and achieve differently.   Like many other’s, one of my goals in 2017 is to be healthier, happier, and more responsible in the way I’m eating.  Which of course, will affect what ingredients I use in the recipes I create and post.  Hoping you have a wonderful New Year!  One that’s hopeful(the next four years may look a bit bleak here in the United States), full of positive change, love, and happiness.  xo


SPICEY VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHUNK GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon chili pepper, ground(I used 1 dry chili pepper blended in a food processor)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance), room temp.

3/4 cup demerara cane sugar

1/2 cup blackstrap molasses

1 tablespoon finely ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons water, warm

5-ounces dark chocolate chopped into chunks

method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare one large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the ground flaxseed and water and set aside for five minutes(this is your substitute egg).  
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, salt, baking soda, and spices and whisk well; set aside.
  4.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and molasses and beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated.  Add the flaxseed and beat until combined, then add half the flour; beat until combined.  Add the remaining flour and beat until just combined.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chopped chocolate.  
  5. Using an ice cream/cookie scoop, scoop out the dough and place them 2-inches apart from each other on the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle the tops with sugar.  Bake for 11-18 minutes until the edges are slightly darker than the center.  Cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
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Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Cake with Ganache

  December, despite being born in this month, there’s not much I really look forward to in it except for my birthday, Christmas, and the closing of another year and the beginning of another year alive.  It can be a depressing month, mainly due to the scenery and the weather.  It gets quite windy where I am located and the house is surrounded by a forest of trees so everything becomes quite dull and lifeless looking blowing in the wind.  The grass turns brittle and the trees gray and spiritless without their coat of leaves.  Winter reminds me just how quickly the other seasons fade, as it always seems the longest.  It also makes me appreciate the other seasons a lot more.

  When it comes to my creativity, it usually relies on the mood of the day.  I’m somewhat one with the weather, all it takes is a cold, cloudy day to bring me into the depths of despair.  For photography, especially food, December light can be difficult to work with.  By the time I’m back from work and done test baking, the light is practically gone and I hadn’t even decided what backdrop to use.. and it’s only four o’clock in the afternoon.

  Anyway, I could honestly go on about the depressing things about December and just the season of winter in general, but let’s skip that because I’m sure you probably share the same if you’re not a winter person; if you happen to be a winter person, well, good for you!  I won’t understand why, but that’s okay.  I once was, but I honestly don’t know why I enjoyed it.  I think it was because I was a child, born and raised without knowing what cold actually felt like.  Up until I moved to Virginia, wearing a sundress and flip flops to my Grandmother’s Christmas dinner was normal.  Now, I actually have to wear pants.

  Now, let’s talk chocolate cake.  My birthday was just last week and I decided to bake my own cake for the occasion for the very first time.  I think it’s a tradition I should start doing every year.  My youngest sister insisted I wasn’t allowed to do such a thing, but by who’s authority, I persisted!  I did most everything the night before to save time, but really, I don’t think I saved much time at all.  I still found myself with this cake four hours later while the rest of the family anxiously awaited its arrival onto the kitchen counter top so they could eat it.

  A little while ago I began adding a fruit jam to my cakes.  It adds an exceptionally moist and tender crumb when you do so!  The frosting includes chocolate pudding, then once it is on the cake, more chocolate in the form of ganache.  As you probably know if you take a brisk scroll through my blog, I am chocolate obsessed.  I also happen to love cake, so I have quite a few chocolate cake variations on this site.  I’ve learned so much about baking cake in the year that has passed since I’ve started this blog journey- so much so, that I look back to a few of the cakes I’ve made and think to myself, “why the heck did I make it that way?”.  You live and you learn, as C.S. Lewis so truthfully wrote, 

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”

DARK CHOCOLATE POMEGRANATE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE


cake:

100 grams dark cocoa powder ( 1 1/4 cups )

1 cup boiling water

175g unsalted butter, room temp.

500g granulated sugar 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

4 large eggs, room temp.

250g cake flour ( 2 cups + 2 tablespoons )

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

300g milk, room temp.

pomegranate jam

pomegranate jam

1 pomegranate

1/2 cup sugar

1/4  teaspoon lemon juice

Chocolate frosting and Ganache:

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup cocoa powdered 

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup heavy cream

salt

 

method:

for the jam:

  1. Scrape the seeds out from the pomegranate and place them in a small saucepan along with the 1/2 cup sugar and the lemon juice.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring the mixer often, until the sugar dissolves; reduce to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until the fruit is soft and has broken down some.  Remove from heat and press the jam through a fine mesh sieve with a bowl underneath.  Discard the seeds from the sieve and bring the jam to room temperature.
  2. In a medium-sized, heat-proof bowl, add the cocoa powder; pour the boiling water over the cocoa and let it sit for 10 minutes, then stir until smooth; set aside and bring to room temperature. 

 Once all the ingredients have reached room temperature, begin on the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare three, 8-inch round cake pans in the usual way:  grease, parchment paper, then a light coat of grease over the paper. 
  2. Using an electric standing mixer with whisks attached, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy- about 7-8 minutes on medium-high speed.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, set aside.  Once the butter and sugar have been creamed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium-low speed after each addition as well as scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters with a spatula.
  3. Add the cooled cocoa mixture, pomegranate jam, a third of the flour, and a third of the milk to the butter mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.  Scrape down the bowl and add the remaining flour on medium speed while streaming in the rest of the milk, beat until combined.  Pour batter equally amongst the three prepared pans and evenly spread around.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops of the cakes quickly spring back up when lightly touched.
  4. Cool the cakes 10 minutes in their pans then gently use a knife to loosen the cakes from around the edges of the pan and invert onto cooling racks to cool completely for about 1-2 hours. 

for the frosting and ganache:

  1. Place a medium-sized heatproof bowl in the freezer so it will be chilled for later use.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the milk, vanilla, and cocoa powder to a simmer over medium-low heat then turn off the heat.
  3. Heat a double boiler over medium heat and add the egg yolks and sugar.  Stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is pale yellow.  Continue to whisk the mixture and slowly stream in the milk.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir constantly until thickened.  Once, thickened, remove from heat and immediately pour the pudding into the chilled bowl and whisk briskly till the pudding is cool to the touch.  
  4. Now, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cooled pudding(be sure it doesn’t have the slightest warmth to it or else the butter will melt) on medium speed until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of extra cocoa powder and a pinch of salt; beat on medium-high speed till the mixture is fluffy and becomes slightly pale in color(about 4 minutes or so).  
  5. For the ganache:  finely chop the bittersweet chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl.  Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in the microwave or on the stovetop.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for five minutes undisturbed then stir until smooth.  Let the mixture cool so it can reach a spreadable consistency.

Assemble the cake:

  Place the first layer on a cake board/cake stand/plate and spoon about 3/4 cup of frosting onto the top.  Evenly spread around then place the second layer, top-side down onto the first layer.  Spread another 3/4 cup of frosting and place the third and final layer on top, again, top-side of the layer facing down onto the previous layer.  Add the remaining frosting to the top and sides of the cake.  Place the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes so the frosting can firm up some.  Once the frosting is somewhat firm to the touch, add the ganache and spread around the top and sides of the cake.  Decorate with edible flowers and greenery(optional).

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