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Satsuma & Pomegranate Cake

Satsuma 1

Starting years ago, I always thought that by this time of the year I would get tired of anything Christmas before it is even the holiday and yet, it never happens. In the world of food photography, we tend to start Christmas photo shoots in the summer. In the world of cookbook publishing, we take full opportunity of the season upon us to shoot the next Christmas. So, when your inboxes get filled with holiday promos on Halloween day, part of me screams "no, no, no! We’re not there yet!" and part of me is already filled with ideas about menus and decorations and awaiting impatiently to put all these into action.


Satsuma Cake 1

This time of year I look forward to a little more baking, roasting veggies and long simmered soups. For loved ones, family, friends. For our little team of two also. Not a whole lot of things beat baking on a Sunday morning and filling the house with the aroma of vanilla bean, apple, quince, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc…


Satsuma 3

One thing that always get my head geared up for the season is the abundance of citrus around. Gorgeous Meyer lemons, sun bursting oranges and my favorites,satsuma oranges. Their aromas, soft skins and subtle flesh always bring me back home in a way. I find myself recreating the same full fruit bowl my mother used to bring us after dinner filled with clementines, oranges, nuts and dried fruits. That was our dessert. Simple, easy and the perfect light break in between heavier holiday meals.

Satsuma 2

I admit, I would take a citrus dessert (most) anyday over a chocolate one. Thin slices of citrus, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of fresh mint. A citrus loaded cupcake. Kumquat tea cakes. My list goes on.


Satsuma Cake 3

During the holidays, I love to incorporate every citrus I get my hands on into cakes and confections. My favorite thing to make on a short notice and when the cravings hits on the weekend is a simple creme fraiche, olive oil and satsuma cake. 

A few seeds of tart pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top and I am go to go…

Satsuma Olive Oil Cake

Serves 6 to 8

Notes: you can use regular all purpose flour for this or you favorite gluten free mix to equal two cups flour total. Most recipes call for canola or vegetable oil but olive oil is what we prefer. It adds a more pungent flavor to the cake which I like.


1 cup granulated sugar

zest of one satsuma

2 large eggs3/4 cup olive oil (don’t skimp on the quality)1 cup creme fraiche (or sub full fat sour cream)1 cup satsuma juice (about 6 medium)

1/2 cup rice flour1/2 cup millet flour1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup almond flour1 tablespoon baking powderpinch of salt

1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

pomegranate seeds to garnishPrepare the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly brush the inside of a 8 to 9 inch cake pan with olive oil.
In a large bowl, rub together the sugar and zest with your fingertips. Add the eggs and whisk until all are incorporated. Add the olive oil, creme fraiche (or sour cream), satsuma juice and whisk again so that everything is well mixed. Add the rice flour, millet flour, sorghum flour,almond flour, baking powder and salt and mix until the batter is smooth. (You can do this in a stand mixer if desired). Fold in the pomegranate seeds with a spatula.
Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out free of crumbs. Slice and serve with pomegranate seeds if desired.

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Fran Amenábar Ch. December 12, 2013 um 12:13 pm

It looks deliscius!! I also prefer citrus dessert than the very sweet ones…. and of course, pretty pics, I always learn with your images (and your book)…. 🙂

gfveg December 12, 2013 um 2:11 pm

brown rice or white rice flour?

FamilySpice December 12, 2013 um 2:58 pm

I adore pomegranates and what a wonderful combination with the satsumas. I'm so happy this time of year as both are in season! Happy Holidays!

Helene December 12, 2013 um 3:08 pm

gfveg: either or.

Amanda December 12, 2013 um 9:25 pm

Helene, could I make this a day ahead or is it better fresh? Also, is it a dense moist cake or airy with a light crumb? I'm trying to plan my Christmas desserts. Thank you!!

Amanda December 12, 2013 um 9:25 pm

Helene, could I make this a day ahead or is it better fresh? Also, is it a dense moist cake or airy with a light crumb? I'm trying to plan my Christmas desserts. Thank you!!

Kitchen Frau December 13, 2013 um 2:36 am

Mmmmm. I do love citrus, too, and living in wintry northern Alberta, Canada, those sunshiny citrus fruits are very much appreciated this time of year. I never thought of putting pomegranate seeds inside a cake, but now that you've put the idea in my head – I think I must go and try it……

The Wimpy Vegetarian December 13, 2013 um 8:08 pm

Oh I really want to try this! I love citrus cake too. Love!

Helene December 14, 2013 um 7:22 am

Amanda: it is better eaten with the first couple of days in my opinion. It's a moist cake.

Katy December 14, 2013 um 3:53 pm

A satsuma cake is perfect for this time of year, I can only imagine how it tastes paired with the pomegranate. Gorgeous photos.

Dana December 16, 2013 um 12:40 am

You are right about the wonderful atmosphere the smells of baking add to a house and to the holidays. I look forward to the aroma almost as much as the taste. Your little clementines look like jewels.

Adam December 19, 2013 um 6:30 pm

This sounds like a great idea, after a while all the holiday goodies of cinnamon and peppermint get tiring. A citrus goodie sounds fantastic!

Heloisa de Mesquita Inoue December 27, 2013 um 11:19 pm

Feliz Ano Novo!

trisha January 2, 2014 um 9:07 am

such beautiful photos as always Helene! I love both orange and pomegranate. thanks for sharing!

Unknown January 4, 2014 um 11:22 pm

Hi there,
I just want to say that I love your food photography. You're doing a great job.
I was wondering, did you use only natural light in the oranges photo?
Thanks a lot.

Helene January 5, 2014 um 10:21 pm

Fernando: Yes, at home I only use natural light. At work, I use natural light about 95% of the time and on occasion strobes for certain clients.
Thank you!

dervla @ The Curator January 7, 2014 um 4:48 am

gorgeous, i can't imagine anything more tasty now after all the chocolate i've had this holiday!

dervla @ The Curator January 7, 2014 um 4:48 am

gorgeous, i can't imagine anything more tasty now after all the chocolate i've had this holiday!

Alexandra January 14, 2014 um 6:56 pm

Love this recipe. I added some dark chocolate (sorry, I'm addicted :-). So yumm!

San January 26, 2014 um 6:30 pm

Hi – I came across your post recently and would like to try the satsuma cake. It looks very tasty. What would you recommend for the baking temperature and time if you use mini muffin tins instead of the 8 inch pan?

Life Images by Jill January 28, 2014 um 3:12 pm

Is a satsuma an orange? over here they are a plum…. Would any orange do? I love pomegranates, but hadn't thought of putting them in a cake!
Wonderful pics as always.

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