Pomegranate CakeA few months ago, Monica sent me a bunch of Italian cooking magazines from 15+ years ago that her mom had lying around. They all had such beautiful pictures and I don’t care what anyone says, the photo is what entices me to make something, especially a recipe I’ve never made, nor seen before and most certainly when said recipe is in another language. And with several photos of step by step instructions included, that was another plus. Since pomegranates are the new super food, they for sure must cancel out any sugar, butter, white flour and extra egg yolks in the recipe. So Torta alla Melegrana, adapted from a recipe in a 1997 issue of Finalmente Dolci magazine was my project.

Finalmente DolceFirst of all, I just want to say that even if Italian were my native language, I would have had difficulty with this recipe because of the way it was written. The very first rule of recipe writing is to list the ingredients in the order you use them. This must be an American thing because I still can’t figure out the way the ingredients were listed. But I had fun translating the recipe (Luciana, my Italian teacher would be so proud), converting the measurements (my brain got a workout) and reorganizing (because…well, I like things that way) .

Pomegranate CakeBut let’s move on to the pomegranates. Nowadays, a lot of stores sell containers of fresh pomegranate seeds which certainly saves a lot of time but the day I went to the grocery store, there were none. So I figured I’d just buy a few pomegranates because how difficult could it be to deseed them? Having no idea how to tell a ripe one, my impatient son, who was rushing me along in the store, googled “how to tell if a pomegranate is ripe”. Pomegranates.org said “pomegranates in the store are picked when ripe” and “they should feel heavy as if it’s very full of juice.” Seriously? That’s it? He tossed a few in the cart and kept moving.

Isn’t this a beautiful looking pomegranate photo below? Well, this is NOT what the ones I bought looked like. (However it is a photo I took of a gorgeous pomegranate in Israel – nice, huh?)

PomegranateWhen I got home and cut them, guess what? The seeds weren’t ripe and ruby red at all, more of a palish, washed out pink. The next step was to deseed them and again, the internet was supposed to be my friend. I read that to deseed them, you simply cut them in half, whack them with a big spoon and the seeds easily fall right out into the bowl. I even watched a couple of YouTube videos just to confirm this. And you know what?? Everyone lied! I  kept whacking those poor pomegranates with a huge metal spoon again and again until finally, finally three pasty pink hued seeds fell out. I ended up tearing the fruits apart and picking out each seed one by one until I finally had the amount I needed.

So I pass along to you my new found pomegranate knowledge and a spectacular recipe; no matter how you get your pomegranate seeds, this cake is worth it. The torta has a nice firm cakey type of bottom layer with a wonderful ricotta cheesecake filling speckled with (what should be) beautiful, crimson seeds. So don’t believe everything you read on the internet (except anything you read here, of course) and if you already have your pomegranate deseeding technique wired, let me know because I’d truly love to know the secret.

Pomegranate Cake

Torta alla Melagrana (Pomegranate Cake)
For the Crust
  • 1 ½ c./200 gr. flour
  • 1 T. sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 ½ tsp/8 gr. baking powder (or ½ packet of Pane degli Angeli)
  • 1 T. milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 T./80 g. butter, room temperature
For the Cream (to be added to the ricotta filling)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ½ T./20 g. sugar
  • 1 T./10 g. cornstarch
  • 1 c. milk
For the Ricotta Filling
  • 1 c./250 g. ricotta
  • 3 T./25 gr. Cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ⅓ c. /90 g. sugar
  • grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 4 T./60 g. butter, melted
  • the seeds from 2 pomegranates.
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease an 8 inch pie plate.
To Prepare the Crust
  1. In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar, a pinch of salt, baking powder, and milk.
  2. Add the 2 eggs, one at a time, mixing well for 1-2 minutes until a ball forms and the ingredients are well mixed.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to flour mixture. Mix well for 1 minute.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes. The dough will be soft. Gently push and roll the dough into a circle and place in pie plate.
To prepare the cream (which is added to the Ricotta filling):
  1. Put the yolk and sugar in a small saucepan. Mix well until creamy and yellow.
  2. Add the cornstarch and milk. Mix well, and over low heat, gently bring just to a boil, stirring constantly until thick.
  3. Remove from heat, let the cream cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on the top.
To prepare the Ricotta filling
  1. In another bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, corn starch, egg yolk, sugar, grated lemon zest.
  2. Stir in the butter and mix well.
  3. Add the cream mixture, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the pomegranate seeds.
  5. Gently place the ricotta cream filling in the dough covered pie plate. Crimp or trim the edges to your preference.
  6. Bake 55-65 minutes until very lightly golden and not jiggly.
  7. Cool several hours before serving.



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    • Laney

      This looks like a great method and one I’ll for sure try! Pomegranates are so good and the easier it is to get those seeds, the more wonderful things we can make with them, right? And I’m so glad you like OB- thanks so much for stopping by!

  1. Reply

    I could have sworn I left a comment on this cake, but here goes again! This looks so wonderful. I love pomegranates. When we were kids – this was WAY back in the fifties and early sixties, our mom would occasionally buy pomegranates for us, but the deal was we HAD to eat them in the backyard. We made such a mess, and I guess the spectre of having her furniture stained by kids was just too much for my mom. So out the backdoor we went. Boy, did we ever make a mess with those pomegranates. I suppose we were even messier since we knew we were outside, but we sure had fun. They were real treats for us. My mom did not cook with them, and there were no pomegranate seeds floating in any cocktails – at least not that I can recall. This cake sure looks great, and your description is really quite tempting. I hope your holiday season has been terrific, and best wishes for a great 2015!

  2. Reply

    Laney, I love your writing! It’s like I’m hanging out in your kitchen chatting with you.

    We always had pomegranates in the winter time, but never cooked with them. I think because we’d gobble them up before there was any chance to do something else with them. My mom and dad would score the outside of the skin like a navel orange and separate the fruit by hand into four or so segments, and then pluck out the seeds by hand. Messy, but so much fun.

    This sounds like a fun cake to make for a party!

    • Laney

      Thanks so much Liz! And yeah, hanging out in the kitchen and chatting is one of my favorite things to do…with a glass of wine or Prosecco even better! I’ve seen your folks’ method done and it does look like fun – and since it’s successful, I’ll have to give it a try.

    • Laney

      And with bright red pomegranates it’s even prettier! A picture says a thousand words…or whatever that expression is-for sure when it comes to food!

  3. monica



    How funny! I don’t think mum has ever made that cake! I have some pomegranate fruits sitting in my bowl in the kitchen and a lot of time this rainy weekend. You could have given me something to do! 😉 baci

    • Laney

      You should absolutely make the cake Monica – and bring it to your mom’s house and tell her thanks (and hi)! And garnished with mint and some powdered sugar it would look very Christmasy, too…Baci a te!

  4. Luciana


    Your teacher is VERY proud of you and domani va a comprere le melegrane, ricotta e amido per fare questa torta…

    • Laney

      Grazie Luciana! E’stato divertente per tradurre in realtà. E assicurarti che i melograni sono maturi. Fammi sapere come andrà…

  5. le


    Hi Laney, this sounds amazing as do all your recipes! Re pomegranate seed extraction, I use the cut -in -half -and -whack-it technique with great success and no mess. The trick is to use a really heavy spoon (a heavy ladle works great).

    • Laney

      Glad you like the recipe Lesley! I’m thinking that perhaps my pmegranates weren’t ripe enough so the whacking didn’t work. But if you’ve had success with the walloping technique, I’ll give it another try…

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