What do you get when you combine a fluffy white cake, tart pomegranate jelly, and smooth white chocolate buttercream? A white chocolate pomegranate layer cake that’s mouth-watering and entirely unexpected! The tartness of the pomegranate jelly is perfectly balanced by creamy white chocolate buttercream for a 6″ layer cake that’s bound to be the talk of the table.
This cake is even better with fresh pomegranate arils placed on the top and sides of the cake for some added texture and tartness. Arrange them into Christmas trees for a true show-stopper!
Ingredients for White Chocolate Pomegranate Layer Cake
This pomegranate white chocolate cake is a total show-stopper featuring winter’s best fruit, the pomegranate. I developed the white cake and white chocolate buttercream specifically to make the pomegranate jelly and arils in this cake shine.
Other than the pomegranate, which is only in season for a few months out of the year (generally September to January), everything else is probably already in your pantry!
Ingredients for the White Cake
- Egg whites, from fresh eggs. Egg whites are whipped into a meringue. That’s what will give this cake its light and fluffy airiness, along with some structure.
- Granulated sugar. Granulated sugar will strengthen the meringue and prevent it from deflating too quickly and will also keep the entire cake moist.
- Unsalted butter. Use unsalted butter to keep your cake moist and not overly salty, as each butter brand uses a different amount of salt in each stick.
- All purpose flour. This recipe works well with all-purpose flour, not cake flour, to give the cake its structure.
- Baking powder. This white cake is light and fluffy due to the lift baking powder gives, along with the air from the meringue.
- Salt. Just a pinch helps to enhance all the flavors.
- Canola oil. There are no egg yolks in this recipe, so we need to add a little extra fat to make up for it. You may use any neutral oil you like in place of canola oil.
- Vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. This cake is delicious even without vanilla extract, but I recommend adding it for an extra boost of flavor.
- Whole milk. The fat in whole milk works best with this cake, since it does not have the fat from the egg yolks. You may substitute 2% or 1% milk if needed, but I recommend using whole milk for the best texture.
Ingredients for the Frosting, Filling, and Decoration
- White chocolate. This makes up the base of the white chocolate buttercream! Use a high quality white chocolate, like Ghirardelli, for best results.
- Heavy cream. Add just a Tablespoon to help the powdered sugar in the buttercream dissolve. This will give you a smooth white chocolate buttercream.
- Powdered sugar. Thicken your buttercream with powdered sugar. Without it, the frosting would turn into a ganache!
- Pomegranate jelly. The star of this white chocolate pomegranate layer cake, pomegranate jelly is sweet and tart and unexpected and delicious all at once. Make at least one day in advance to ensure the jelly has enough time to set.
- Pomegranate arils. These little guys provide a bit of crunch in the most delightful way. Use as decor on the sides and top of the cake. This will give some texture and tartness to contrast with the white chocolate buttercream.
Quick Tips for Prepping White Cake
I combined two cake-making methods into one recipe for the lightest and fluffiest white cake I’ve ever tasted. First, whip the egg whites into a meringue. Then, reverse cream the dry ingredients and beat in the liquid ingredients. Finish by folding in the meringue. This method requires one extra bowl due to whipping the meringue, but the difference it makes is more than worth an extra minute at the sink.
Mixing Up the Cake Batter
Key things to note: Whip the egg whites with about half of the sugar. This will stabilize the meringue and prevent it from deflating during reverse creaming. I recommend using a stand mixer or hand mixer, as whipping egg whites to soft peaks can take a while without one.
Transfer the meringue to another bowl, then thoroughly whip out your mixing bowl to reverse cream the dry ingredients.
Reverse creaming combines all the dry ingredients in the cake with the fat before adding in any liquid. This coats the flour in fat, which is unable to properly hydrate. (That’s a good thing!) The flour can’t create nearly as much gluten, so instead of a tough and chewy crumb, you end up with a moist, tender crumb that melts in your mouth.
Pour the milk, canola oil, and vanilla into the mixer while on low, then beat for a minute until the batter is smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure there aren’t any sneaky chunks hiding out.
Then, fold in the meringue.
Baking the Cakes
The easiest way to divide your cake into cake pans is to weigh how much batter you have in each pan. This is the best way to ensure even cake layers that all finish baking at the same time.
These cakes are small, so they don’t take long to bake. I use light-colored aluminum 6″ cake pans that heat incredibly evenly. If you’re using dark-colored pans, which absorb more heat, check on your cakes five minutes early.
Quick Tips for Prepping White Chocolate Buttercream
White chocolate buttercream can turn out grainy if you’re not careful. I had a few batches turn out poorly so I can tell you what not to do when making this buttercream!
Fully Melt the White Chocolate
White chocolate has a lower melting point than milk and dark chocolate, so it’s easier to burn. When melting it over the stove or in the microwave, stir it frequently to even out any hot spots. Any lumps of chocolate that don’t melt will remain in the buttercream, and that will make for a lumpy buttercream.
Help! My White Chocolate Isn’t Melting and Keeps Getting Harder
That happened to me while testing this recipe! It sounds like your white chocolate may have seized. That can happen when the chocolate gets too hot or has water come into contact with it. To remedy this, you’ll need to start over in a clean bowl.
And please be sure to stir the white chocolate every 10 seconds!
Fully Cool the White Chocolate
The white chocolate needs to cool down before you add it to the buttercream. Otherwise, it’s just going to melt the butter and make a huge mess.
When the bowl is only slightly warm to the touch, give the white chocolate a final stir before adding it to the buttercream.
Pour the White Chocolate into a Well in the Buttercream
Make a small well in the center of the buttercream, then pour the white chocolate into it before mixing. This will prevent the white chocolate from contacting the sides of the mixer bowl. The mixer bowl is colder than the white chocolate, which can cause the white chocolate to get lumpy.
If your white chocolate begins to harden before you can add all the white chocolate, reheat it for a few seconds to get the lumps out. Any lumps in the white chocolate will transfer to the buttercream. And no one wants a lumpy buttercream!
Once all the white chocolate has been added to the buttercream, beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
Quick Tips for Assembling White Chocolate Pomegranate Layer Cake
Do not frost a partially-cooled cake. If running low on time, wrap a slightly warm cake in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge until it is fully chilled. Frosting and filling a warm cake will only result in goopy buttercream, a lack of structural integrity, and probably a few frustrated tears (speaking from experience!).
To layer your cake, place a dollop of white chocolate buttercream on a cake turner and firmly press a cake round onto it. Apply another dollop of buttercream and press the a white cake layer onto it. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the layer, then spread it evenly across the top of the cake layer.
Then, pipe a ring of white chocolate buttercream around the edge to prevent the pomegranate jelly filling from spilling out.
Spread half of the pomegranate jelly onto the cake layer in the center of the dam, then top with another cake layer, pressing lightly but firmly to seal it. Repeat.
Once your third layer is in place, spread a light coating of buttercream around the top and edges of the cake to seal in any crumbs. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, then frost with the remaining buttercream. Smooth with a bench scraper for perfect edges.
How to Make Trees out of Pomegranate Arils on White Chocolate Pomegranate Cake
Pomegranate arils are the perfect shape to make pine trees on the sides of cake! They’re slimmer at the top and thicker at the bottom. This variation in size makes for a great, realistic-looking pine tree that almost shimmers with the light.
To make a pine tree shape out of pomegranate arils, place one pomegranate aril on the buttercream near the bottom of the cake. That will serve as the tree trunk. I started out using decorating tweezers but found it was much easier to place each aril by hand. Maybe you’ll have better luck.
Next, add a row of pomegranate arils directly above the tree trunk. For larger trees, I used seven arils on this bottom row. The smallest tree I made had only four arils. Both were very cute!
Then, right above that line, add another row of arils right above them in the gaps between the pomegranate arils. Use one less aril than the previous row.
Continue placing arils one at a time in each row, using one aril less for each row, until the final row has just one aril, serving as the top of the tree.
Dish Cleanup: Dish Mountain
I rate my recipe cleanups on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 is only a handful of dishes, and 5 is everything including the kitchen sink.
My white chocolate pomegranate layer cake recipe has a cleanup rating of a 5. This white chocolate pomegranate layer cake has fewer dishes than some of my other layer cakes, but it will still take you a while at the sink. To cut down on the dishes you have to use, I’d recommend lining your cooling racks with parchment paper and splitting up the bake into two days. I did the dishes for the cake one day and everything else the next.
Other Recipes You May Enjoy
Pomegranate jelly isn’t often sold in stores, but it’s an easy jam to make at home. Make my pomegranate jelly as a small batch, or double (or triple) the ingredient quantities if you have a bounty of pomegranates.
I always have more layer cake inspiration coming your way. Try my apple snickerdoodle layer cake, the quintessential apple cinnamon layer cake for fall!
If you’re a fan of tiramisu but wish there was a bit more cake to go with your cream, try my twist on tiramisu: A tiramisu layer cake, made with coffee sponge and real tiramisu cream filling.
White Chocolate Pomegranate Layer Cake Recipe
For the White Cake
- 4 egg whites, from fresh eggs (not pasteurized!)
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided (200g)
- 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter (113g), at room temperature
- 1 ⅔ cups all purpose flour (220g)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- ⅔ cup whole milk
For the White Chocolate Buttercream
- 1 cup white chocolate (170 g)
- 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 cup unsalted butter (226g), at room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar (200 g)
For the Pomegranate Filling and Decor
- ⅔ cup pomegranate jelly
- 1 cup pomegranate arils
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Line three 6" (15 cm) cake pans with parchment rounds if desired. Set aside.
Whip the Egg Whites for the Cake
- This cake uses egg whites whipped with sugar to give the cake an extra lift. Make the meringue first, set it aside, and then use the reverse creaming method to make the rest of the cake before folding in the meringue.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment OR a large bowl with a handheld mixer, add four egg whites from fresh eggs, as pasteurized egg whites may not whip.
- Mix on 2 (or low) until frothy, then increase speed to 4 (medium-low).
- Once the whisk begins leaving a trail in the egg whites, sprinkle in about half of the sugar (½ cup) one Tablespoon at a time. When the sugar is incorporated, increase speed to 6 (medium) and whisk until soft peaks form.
- Transfer the meringue to a medium bowl and set aside. Wipe out your stand mixer bowl (or use another, if you have one).
Make the Cakes
- Place the remaining ½ cup of sugar, unsalted butter, flour, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a beater attachment. Mix on low until everything is fully combined and resembles bread crumbs. You may need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl once; sometimes my batter gets compressed towards the bottom.
- Add the canola oil, vanilla extract, and milk to a measuring cup. (It won't mix together; that's fine.)
- With the mixer on low, stream the milk mixture into the stand mixer bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the batter is smooth and no chunks remain, about one minute.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer base and fold in the meringue by hand with a spatula until no streaks remain. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom thoroughly.
- Divide the cake batter evenly into the three cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are a light golden brown and the center doesn't jiggle when you remove it from the oven. *Note: Dark-colored pans may only take 20 minutes to bake.
- Leave the cakes in their pans and place on a wire rack to cool.
- Once the pans are cool enough to touch (about 15 minutes), flip the pans upside down over a sheet of parchment paper. Knock on the bottom of the pans if the cakes don't release immediately.
Make the White Chocolate Buttercream
- Place the white chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and melt, either over a double boiler OR in the microwave in 10-second bursts, stirring after each burst. (White chocolate is more prone to burning in the microwave due to a low melting point. Be sure to stir every 10 seconds to prevent the chocolate from seizing or burning.)
- Give the melted white chocolate a final stir to ensure no chunks remain, then set aside to cool slightly.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for one minute. Turn off the mixer, then add the powdered sugar about half a cup at a time. Mix after each until the powdered sugar is fully incorporated.
- When the white chocolate is only barely warm to the touch, pour half of the white chocolate directly into the center of the buttercream, taking care to avoid the edges of the bowl. Mix the white chocolate into the buttercream on low. Repeat with the remaining white chocolate.
- Note: If the white chocolate begins to harden on the edges before you have a chance to add it all to the buttercream, reheat the chocolate following the directions above until all the chocolate is melted once again. Do not put the hardening white chocolate into the buttercream, as it may result in a lumpy buttercream. If you notice lumps of white chocolate in your buttercream, you can remove them by pressing the buttercream through a fine mesh sieve.
- When all the white chocolate is incorporated into the buttercream, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the buttercream is light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer to a piping bag and set aside.
Assemble the Cake
- Once the cake layers have cooled entirely, place a dollop of frosting in the center of a cake turner or stand, and then push a cake board into it to make it stick. Place another dollop of frosting in the middle of the cake board. Center a cake layer on the board.
- Pipe or spread an even layer of the white chocolate buttercream on top of the cake layer. Pipe a tall ring around the edge of the cake, like a dam. This will prevent the pomegranate jelly filling from leaking out.
- Spread half of the pomegranate jam evenly in the center of the cake layer, then place the next cake layer on top.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the second layer.
- Place the last cake layer on top and press firmly to seal the edges. Use an offset spatula to smooth a thin layer of the white chocolate buttercream onto the edges and top of the cake to seal in the crumbs. Chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
- Once the buttercream has hardened, frost with the remaining buttercream. Use a scraper or offset spatula to smooth the sides, scraping the excess back into the mixer bowl. For ruler-straight edges, chill for an additional half hour or until hardened, then go over the edges with a scraper once more.
- Decorate as desired, then place in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. I used about a cup of pomegranate arils to make a forest of trees on the sides and made a small ring of arils around the top. See next section for details.
Making Trees out of Pomegranate Arils
- For the most realistic-looking pomegranate trees, pay close attention to how you arrange the arils on the tree. Each aril is teardrop-shaped. The thickest part of the aril should be pointed towards the bottom of the cake, with the thinner part pointing up. You can make an entire forest of trees around the cake, or just one large one. The end result will be beautiful either way!
- Place one pomegranate aril on the buttercream near the bottom of the cake using decorating tweezers or your clean fingers. This will serve as the tree trunk.
- Add a row of pomegranate arils (anywhere from 3-9 arils) directly above the tree trunk.
- In the gaps between the pomegranate arils, add another row of arils. You'll use one less aril than the previous row. Continue placing arils one at a time in each row, using one aril less for each row, until the final row has just one aril, serving as the top of the tree.
- Place in the fridge for at least an hour before serving, otherwise the jam may run out while you slice it.
Store the cake in an airtight container for up to four days in the fridge.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 647Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 184mgCarbohydrates: 76gFiber: 2gSugar: 58gProtein: 7g
The nutrition facts are estimated and may vary based on specific ingredients used.
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