Yellow Layer Cake With Pomegranate Frosting | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Yellow Layer Cake With Pomegranate Frosting

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Yellow Layer Cake With Pomegranate Frosting

Pomegranates have been a Jewish superfood for centuries.

Pomegranates have been a hot new super food for several years is the United States now. But Jews have been lauding their special status for centuries, as a symbol of fertility and beauty. The clothes of the Cohen Gadol, the high priest, were instructed to have images of pomegranates embroidered on the hem. 

Today pomegranates hold a special significance for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, as a symbol that our good deeds in the coming year should be as plentiful as the seeds of the pomegranate. Legend has it that each pomegranate contains 613 seeds - corresponding to the number of mitzvot, or commandments, in the Torah. (I've heard conflicting reports from various seed counters.)

This delightful layer cake highlights the sweet-tartness of the pomegranate and its seeds. A sturdy, classic yellow cake is sandwiched together and covered with rich pomegranate frosting, and topped with the jewel-toned arils. The recipe makes a two-layer cake, but I sliced each of my layers in half for extra frosting opportunities: The choice is yours. I can't lie to you dear readers, the color of my frosting was not totally to my liking, so I augmented it with a touch of food coloring. Your own color will depend on the juice or pomegranate you use. Be aware that many bottled pomegranate juices are not 100 percent pomegranate. 

Amy Spiro is a journalist and writer based in Jerusalem. She is a graduate of the Jerusalem Culinary Institute's baking and pastry track, a regular writer for The Jerusalem Post and blogs at She also holds a BA in Journalism and Politics from NYU.

Servings & Times
  • Makes 1 cake
Active Time:
  • 1 hr 30 min
Total Time:
  • 30 min


1 cup (200g) butter or margarine, softened

2 cups (400g) sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups buttermilk or soy milk

4 cups (500g) flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoons salt


1 1/2 cups (300g) butter or margarine, softened

4 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

3/4 cup pomegranate juice, or 1/3 cup pomegranate molasses

For decoration: pomegranate arils

  1. For the cake, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Meat in the eggs and vanilla until well combined. Mix in the buttermilk until completely combined (don't worry if it looks a little funny at this point). Gradually add the flour (along with the baking powder, baking soda and salt) to the mixture, beating until just mixed.
  2. Divide the batter up between 2 greased 9" round cake pans. Bake on 350 F for 35-40 minutes, or until the cakes test done. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert on to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely, about 1 hour.
  3. While the cakes cool, prepare the frosting. If using pomegranate juice, heat it on the stove over a low flame, slowly bringing to a boil, then allow to reduce to about half. Now you've made pomegranate molasses. Beat the butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy and very well mixed. Gradually pour in the pomegranate molasses until completely incorporated. If the frosting is still very stiff, thin out with a teaspoon of additional pomegranate juice at a time.
  4. Use the frosting to cover the first layer of cake, the repeat with remaining layers (if using) and spread frosting all over outside of cake. Top with pomegranate arils.