Thursday 2 July 2020

Pomegranate Molasses, Pistachio and Orange Loaf Cake

If you're lover of all things Middle Eastern cuisine, or equally, you're obsessed (like I am) with Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook collection then you'll probably already be familiar with the intense sour and syrupy sweetness of pomegranate molasses

The essential Persian ingredient with its characteristically tangy, almost citric notes of sharp sourness and sweetness works brilliantly well to enhance both a multitude of sweet and savoury dishes. It's made from reduced pomegranate juice with the aim of really intensifying all those fruity natural flavours into a sumptuously dark and thick syrup.

Pomegranate molasses is becoming increasingly easier to get hold of, now the likes of Ottolenghi has made Middle Eastern cuisine more mainstream in the UK, home cooks are becoming sophisticated foodies that are willing to be more adventurous than ever before in the kitchen. You should be able to find it in some of the larger UK supermarkets or from specialist online cookshops like Sous Chef which is where I got mine from.

I was excited when I finally got myself a bottle of the syrupy good stuff and I have to admit I was a bit of kid in a candy store because I didn't really know where to begin, do I go down the sweet or savoury avenue. I was tempted to use it as a salad dressing drizzled over a halloumi mezze dish, but that will have to wait as in the end cake always wins in my eyes and this loaf cake creation was inspired from a recipe I'd seen from Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan. 

The sharp, tart pomegranate flavour was a lovely pairing with the sweetnees of citric orange in a moist, dense and sticky almond cake which I lightly studded with the crunch of pistachios. The moistness is enhanced with a syrup glaze soaked into the sponge when it's hot straight out of the oven, this permeates through by piercing holes like you would with a lemon drizzle cake. I felt it would be too tart and overpowering to incorporate the molasses into the icing as well, so instead I used fresh pomegranate juice collected from a punnet of bought pomegranate seeds, however you could always substitute this for more orange juice or water if there isn't enough. 

Pomegranate Molasses, Pistachio and Orange Loaf Cake

Makes 1 loaf cake


150g (2⁄3 cup) butter
125g (½ cup) caster sugar
3 eggs
75g (8 tbsp) plain flour
Pinch of sea salt
1 heaped tsp baking powder
200g (2 cups) ground almonds
1 orange, grated zest - reserve a small amount for topping
2 ½ tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 ½ tbsp pomegranate molasses
½ tsp vanilla extract   
50g (½ cup) pistachios chopped, plus an extra 15-20g for topping

3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp water

105g (1 cup) icing sugar
1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp pomegranate juice - collected from a pack of pomegranate seeds

To decorate:
Chopped pistachios
Orange zest
Pomegranate seeds


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a loaf tin with parchment baking paper. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. When the mixture is light and creamy, beat in the eggs gradually, beating well between each addition. 

Fold in the flour, salt, baking powder and almonds with a large spoon. Fold in the orange zest but reserving a small amount for decoration, orange juice, pomegranate molasses, vanilla and chopped pistachios, then spoon into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until firm and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. After 35 minutes of cooking it may need to be covered with aluminium foil to prevent the surface from browning too much. 

When it is almost ready, make the glaze. Put the pomegranate molasses and sugar in a saucepan with 3 tablespoons water, place over a medium heat and stir to help the sugar dissolve and let it bubble away for a minute, then take off the heat. 

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, use a fork or skewer to pierce holes in it, then brush the syrup over, you may not need all of it if the sponge looks like it's not soaking in anymore. Leave to cool briefly in the loaf tin, then turn it out, syrup-side up to cool completely on a wire rack. 

Once cool, to make the icing, mix the icing sugar with orange juice and pomegranate juice until a thick, drop-able, smooth paste is formed. You may need to add more juice if the consistency is too thick to pour off a spoon. Drizzle over the loaf cake and let it drip down the sides. Whilst the icing is still wet decorate with chopped pistachios, orange zest and pomegranate seeds. 


  1. Loved it, the glaze soaked in the cake is especially delicious! Will definitely be making it again.

    1. Thank you I'm glad you liked it, yes the glaze is such a good combo with this type of loaf cake!

  2. Hello! Are ground almonds the same as almond flour?