The Feast of St. Bardesanes

Slice of cake

Saturday, July 11 was the Feast of St. Bardesanes (155-233 e.v.), also known as Bar-Daisan, a Gnostic Christian poet from the Syrian city-state of Edessa, possibly of the Valentinian lineage.  According to the Invisible Basilica, “Most modern scholars have abandoned the theory that Bardesanes was the author of that masterpiece of religious poetry, the ‘Hymn of the Pearl,’ also known as ‘The Hymn of the Soul’ or ‘The Hymn of the Robe of Glory,’ which was included in the apocryphal Acts of Judas Thomas. However, G.R.S. Mead was a strong advocate of the theory that he was its author, and Mead was Crowley’s primary source on Gnosticism. Regardless of its authorship, the ‘Hymn of the Pearl’ contains some exceptionally lucid Gnostic allegory.” In honor of the “Hymn of the Pearl,” we present this recipe.

Black Pearl Layer Cake

Slice of cakeBlack pearl ganache:

  • 6 oZ bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp wasabi powder
  • 2 tbs black sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp corn syrup
  • 2 tbs (1/4 stick) butter, room temperature

Ginger syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tbs matchstick-size strips peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise


  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract

Whipped cream frosting:

  • 2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • Additional black sesame seeds

Read complete directions at Epicurious.


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