Friday, June 15, 2012

Persephone's Winter Cake

There is a myth surrounding how wintertime actually came about.  Apparently Hades, God of the Underworld, stole someone's daughter named Persephone to keep her and make her marry him.  Her mother was Demeter, goddess of the harvest.

Once Demeter heard about her daughters fate, plants stopped growing.  The lack of food did take its toll on several people as well as animals.  Then her husband Zeus advised that as long as Persephone had not eaten any food in the underworld, she could go free.  Based on this, Persephone was released back to her family.

However it did not take long for a servant of Hades to arrive and advise the parents that Persephone did in fact eat.  It was only 7 pomegranate seeds, but it still was food.  The family was devastated, so much so that it was finally ruled that Persephone could stay with her parents 9 months out of the year. The other 3 months she would have to stay in the underworld.  As a result, plants would die during the 3 months, hence the season was to be called winter.  This cake does have some summer flavors, but the name reflects the tie in to the myth.

This particular cake has is a unique flavor combination, pomegranate and white wine. It came out very moist with a subtle tartness from the pomegranate.  The layers are filled with lime curd and the cake is frosted with sweetened whipped cream.  The curd really does give an extra pop of flavor against the subtle flavor of the cake. Also the whipped cream just pulls it all together in one tasty bite.  

Persephone's Winter Cake
by flourtrader

Ingredients/Lime Curd
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tbs lime zest
1/3 cup lime juice
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter, 1/4- 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup & 2 tbs white wine
1/4 cup & 2 tbs  pomegranate juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 egg yolks
red food coloring (optional)
2 tbs freeze dried pomegranate
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs baking powder
2/3 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
8 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar

Ingredients/Whipping Cream
1/2 tsp whipping cream stabilizer (I used Whip it brand)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
8 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla

For the lime curd, beat together eggs, lime juice, lime zest and sugar.  Pour into small saucepan and cook on low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and lightly coats the back of a spoon.  It should reach a temperature of about 160 degrees.  Then add about 3-4 cubes of butter and stir until it melts.  Continue with this process until all butter has been melted and mixed in.  Remove from heat.  Place a sieve over a heat proof bowl and pour the curd into it.  Make sure all curd is pushed through strainer, leaving the zest behind.  Let cool for about 5 minutes, then cover the surface with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

Prepare two 9 inch cake pans by greasing the interior with melted butter.  Then line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and butter the surface.  Dust bottom and sides with flour.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Sift together 2/3 cup of sugar, flour, baking powder,freeze dried pomegranate and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together yolks, water, oil, vanilla and lemon zest.  Stir in the wine and pomegranate juice.  Add the optional food coloring, being aware that the egg whites will lighten the batter color.  Mix until blended evenly.

Take out a mixer bowl and fill with eggs whites and cream of tartar.  Beat until it turns into soft peaks.  Then add 1/4 cup of sugar and beat for 1 minute and add another 1/4 and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  Fold the egg white mixture into the pomegranate batter.

Pour the batter into the two cake pans, making sure each is filled evenly.  Put each pan in the oven, one on the top left and one on the bottom left.  Baked until tester comes out clean, which is about 25 minutes.  Remove pans and run a knife around the edges.  Place pans on rack and let cool for 10 minutes.  Then invert and peel off parchment and let cakes cool completely.

Once the cakes are cool, place in fridge for 15 minutes.  Then remove and trim domed tops to make each cake even and flat on top.  Then with cut dome side up, smooth the lime curd on top evenly.  Then top with other cake layer.

To make the whipped cream, place all ingredients in a small bowl and beat until soft peaks form.  Be careful not to over beat, you do not want it stiff, just thick.  Frost the top and sides of cake and pipe a border if desired.  Store in fridge until ready to serve.

Tips and notes:
1. deflating the whites when folding in can make for a dense cake, so take care in this process
2. Straining out the zest in the curd is optional, you can leave it in for extra tartness.
3. The stabilizer does help whipped cream from being runny at room temperature for extended times. If you do not have stabilizer, it is best to use a version with gelatin but it will give it a more spongy texture.
4.  This is another one in which I did not like the taste of the cake the first day but on the second day the flavors had developed into something very tasty.
                   **LAST YEAR: Maple Pumpkin Bars**