Orange Butter Cake with Pomegranate Italian Meringue Buttercream

From the recipe files of my cake shop, a favorite of friends and customers which we affectionately called "Orange Pom-Pom". This cake combines winter harvest fruits in a fresh way that will make you forget the cold winter weather. 

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ORANGE CAKE

2 STICKS BUTTER

1 1/4 CUPS GRANULATED SUGAR

1 TEASPOON ORANGE EXTRACT

1 TEASPOON ORANGE ZEST

4 EGGS

1 CUP SOUR CREAM

2 CUPS CAKE FLOUR

1/2 TEASPOON BAKING SODA

1 TEASPOON SALT

1 1/2 TEASPOONS BAKING POWDER


Preheat oven to 350ðF. Prepare two, 8-inch baking pans.

Sift together the cake fl our, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Cream the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fl uff y and light in color, about 2 minutes on medium speed.

Add the sugar, and continue to mix until fluffy and light.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, being sure each is well incorporated before adding the next. Add the orange extract and the orange zest.

Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add 1/3 of the dry ingredients alternately with 1/2 the sour cream, beginning and ending with the fl our. Be sure the mixture is completely blended after each addition.

Scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat for 1 more minute.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until cakes test done.

Cool completely before frosting.


POMEGRANATE ITALIAN MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

1/2 CUP WATER

1 CUP SUGAR, DIVIDED

1/2 CUP EGG WHITES, ROOM TEMPERATURE

1 POUND (4 STICKS) UNSALTED BUTTER,

ROOM TEMPERATURE

1/4 CUP POMEGRANATE REDUCTION

 Place the water and 3/4 cup of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, and stir until dissolved.

As the mixture becomes hot, use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to brush any sugar crystals down from the sides of the pan.

Place the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer and beat the whites on low until frothy.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and turn the speed to medium-high. Continue beating until stiff.

Raise the heat under the sugar mixture, and bring it to a rapid boil. Cook until it reaches 238ðF.

When the syrup is ready, quickly pour it into the meringue while the mixer is on medium speed. Be sure to pour the syrup in the space between the beater and the side of the bowl. Any syrup touching the bowl or the beater may cause hard sugar clumps in your frosting.

Whip the meringue until it cools, about 15 minutes, depending on the room temperature.

Turn the mixer down to medium speed, and add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time. Continue to whip the buttercream and add the remaining butter.*

Keep mixing until the mixture is evenly blended and smooth.

Add cooled pomegranate reduction, and mix until well-incorporated.

*Do not add the butter while the meringue is warm, or the butter will melt and ruin the texture and decrease the volume.


POMEGRANATE REDUCTION

1 CUP POMEGRANATE JUICE*

Pour juice into a heavy-bottom saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

Store covered in the refrigerator for 1 week.

*this may be applied to any desired pulp-free fruit juice.

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