Pomegranates are a sweet yet tart fruit commonly found in Afghanistan and enjoyed immensely by Afghans. It's always been a most favorite fruit of mine and an indulgence I enjoy as soon as pomegranate season begins. Pomegranate is called "anar" (pronounced: ah-naw-r) in Dari/Farsi, and so I terms anar and pomegranate interchangeably.
My mother often made this dessert for us as we were growing up and it became a family favorite. I love to present easy, accessible ways to create upscale desserts that can be created even by beginner bakers. You're welcome to create your own whip cream at home, but I kept this dessert intentionally accessible and have shared some of my shortcuts and tips to make the process easier.
Sponge cakes are a delicious and healthier cake as they're light and have a lower sugar content and don't require any butter or oil in them. Conquering how to make a sponge cake roll without having the cake crack or fall apart was key to making this recipe a success. Follow along the video tutorial and the recipe below to learn how to create this delicious dish in your own home. Noshejaan!
P.S. Worried about how to de-seed and cut a pomegranate? It's surprisingly a simple task that I've broken down into a few steps on my Youtube page (@Imanistan) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncHb7fVUJa8
6 large eggs,
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup flour, sifted
1/3 cup powdered sugar
FILLING/EXTERIOR OF CAKE INGREDIENTS:
1 package cool whip
INSTRUCTIONS (SPONGE ROLL CAKE):
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Position rack in oven in the center.
Using a large cookie sheet pan, line with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Grease the lining with baking spray fully (this will make it easier to remove the lining from the cake after baking). Set lined & greased pan aside.
Separate egg whites and yolks into two separate bowls (see video above on how to do so easily).
Place the egg whites in a large bowl, as the eggs will occupy a large space once complete. Whisk with an electric mixer over high speed until egg whites begin to become light and foamy. Slowly sprinkle in 1/2 cup granulated sugar while continuing to whisk over medium-high speed. Continue electric mixer whisking until the egg whites have reached stiff peaks (when you pull the whisk out of the eggs small peaks will form and the egg whites will have a medium firm shape).
Set egg whites aside.
Begin beating egg yolks on medium high speed with electric mixer. Slowly incorporate the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and vanilla extract. After sugar and vanilla are added, place electric mixer on high speed and continue beating egg yolks until the mixture becomes pale yellow.
Add 1/3 of the egg white mixture to the egg yolk mixture, folding in the egg whites gently. Repeat with the next 1/3 of the egg whites and fold. Complete with final 1/3 of egg white mixture being added to yolk mix, gently folding them in with a large spatula.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour at a time into the egg mixture batter, and fold in gently with a spatula. Repeat until all of the flour has been added, until the batter is smooth and fluffy.
Transfer the batter onto the greased and lined sheet pan and spread into an even layer using a spatula (the batter should fill the entire pan).
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until light golden in color.
As the cake is baking, lay a clean kitchen towel with the long edge facing you on to a countertop near the stove. Dust the towel with powdered sugar and spread it to cover the towel completely. This will help the cake not stick to the towel.
As soon as the cake is removed from the oven, carefully and quickly invert the sheet pan (long edge of the pan facing you) in one quick motion and cake onto the sugar-dusted linen. Set aside the pan.
Very carefully peel off the aluminum foil or parchment paper and discard. Immediately after this, while the cake is still warm, roll the cake and kitchen towel, starting from the short end of the towel into a tight spiral. The towel should be rolled within the cake, so that the cake does not touch itself as it is rolled.
Leave the cake inside the rolled towel for about an hour, until the cake is room temperature.
EXTERIOR & FILLING SPONGE CAKE ROLL
Unroll the cake slowly from the kitchen towel.
While cake is lying on the towel, using a spatula spread an even layer of cool whip or homemade whip cream on to the inside of the cake making sure it covers the entire surface of the cake that is facing you.
Sprinkle pomegranate seeds generously atop of the whip cream layer.
Slowly begin rolling cake back into a roll without the towel, you will be gently rolling it to ensure that the whip cream and pomegranates stay inside
Once cake is rolled, move it on to a plate for serving and decorating.
Using a spatula, completely cover the exterior of the cake with more whip cream/cool whip. Once evenly coated, sprinkle the remaining pomegranate seeds generously over the whip cream. To attach the pomegranates to the sides of the cake, take a handful and gently press them into the cake sides.
Refrigerate cake after this step for at least 20 minutes to assist in making cutting and serving easier. Noshejaan!*
*the definition for Noshejaan can be found here: https://www.imanistan.com/blog-recipes/afghan-kitchen-talk-terms-101-noshejaan