Spiced Pear Cake

Recently my family came for a trip to the country to celebrate my Dad’s Birthday, eat, drink and be merry. Being a birthday, a birthday cake was a must and given the recent Malteser Cake I made for Ben the stakes where set pretty high. Which I didn’t mind, until I remembered the mass of food allergies that were coming with them – no chocolate, no coffee, no nuts, no ginger and no berries. YIKES! Can you even bake without these?!

So I put my mind to it and after some major research the Spiced Pear Cake was born, or developed might be more apt. And… it was delicious!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of wine – I used a spicy Shiraz
  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • 1 lemon – juiced and rind peeled
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp Queen vanilla bean paste
  • 2 William Bartlett pears – peeled, cut into thirds and cored
  • 1 1/2 cups of wholemeal self raising flour, sifted – plain would work too
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbs of all spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 150g butter – melted and cooled – the cooling is important so your cake batter doesn’t include scrambled eggs
  • 3 eggs – lightly whisked
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • Maple syrup to brush

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Place water, wine, caster sugar, lemon rind + juice, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean paste in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir for 2-3 minutes until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, add pears, cover surface with a cartouche and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until pears are tender.
  4. Transfer pears to a plate and allow to cool completely then thinly slice to fan.
  5. Meanwhile, combine flour, brown sugar, spices and vanilla in a large bowl and mix to combine.
  6. Combine butter, milk and egg, pour into dry mixture and combine.
  7. Pour cake batter into the lined cake pan, arrange the pears on the top of the cake in fans. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a serving plate. Brush with several coats of maple syrup allowing each coat to absorb into the cake.
  9. Serve with reduced pear poaching liquid and good quality vanilla ice cream.

NOTE: a cartouche is a circle of grease-proof or baking paper used to cover a dish while poaching or simmering.

Enjoy!

Spiced Chocolate Cookies

If you’re a beginner baker, biscuits are an easy and delicious starting point. These Chocolate Spiced Cookies are yummy – crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Perfect!

Ingredients

  • 185g butter – room temperature
  • 300g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 175g melted dark chocolate – cooled
  • 175ml milk
  • 150g plain flour
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa
  • 2 tsp of all spice
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts
  • Icing sugar to dust

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180C and line 2 x baking trays with oven paper.
  2. Add the butter, sugar and vanilla essence to a large bowl and use electric beaters to cream.
  3. Add the eggs, egg yolk, melted chocolate and milk to the bowl and use the electric beaters to mix until fluffy.
  4. Shift flour, cocoa and all spice into the mixing bowl ensuring all lumps are removed. Add the chopped walnuts and guess what now, use the electric beaters to mix until fluffy.
  5. NOTE: if you’re okay with eating raw egg, which I am, you can stop the process here and enjoy one of the nicest chocolate mousse’s you will have ever eaten. It is seriously delicious; so much so that I even put some aside in a container for a certain batter eating friend to munch on.
  6. Roll the mixture into tablespoon sized balls, place on baking trays leaving a good 3-4cm between each cookie as they spread and bake for 18 minutes or until they are starting to brown.
  7. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully.
  8. Sprinkle with icing sugar and share with friends.

Enjoy!

Double Chocolate and Salted Caramel Shortbread Slice

I am a firm believer that there can never be too much chocolate, caramel or nuts in a slice and FINALLY I have found the perfect recipe. This Double Chocolate and Salted Caramel Shortbread Slice is so, so tasty.

It is relatively easy to make, if you don’t mind some mindless stirring and little hands will love to dip their fingers into condensed milk help you make it and pipe on the white chocolate icing at the end. The salt from the nuts sets off the sweetness of the caramel and chocolate… like I said, HEAVEN.

Ingredients

  • 150g butter, softened
  • ½  cup of firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/3 cup self-raising flour
  • 395g can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • ¾ cup salted chopped mixed nuts – you can use unsalted if you prefer
  • 200g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tps vegetable oil
  • 50g white chocolate, melted

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 140°C. Grease a 3cm deep, 20cm x 30cm pan and line with baking paper.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat 120g butter, sugar and yolk until pale and creamy.
  3. Stir in flours until combined. Press mixture evenly over base of prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and leave to cool. It is important that you leave it to cool or everything you try and put on top will melt, which isn’t quite as awesome as you think it would be.
  5. Meanwhile, place condensed milk, golden syrup and remaining butter in small aucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, for 15 minutes or until mixture is golden brown.
  6. Pour caramel over biscuit base. Smooth top. Sprinkle with nuts and carefully press into caramel. Bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Place milk chocolate and oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until smooth. Pour chocolate mixture over caramel layer. Refrigerate for 2 hours minimum.
  8. Remove slice from pan. Spoon melted white chocolate into a snap-lock bag. Snip off 1 corner. Pipe white chocolate over milk chocolate. Set aside for 20 minutes or until set.
  9. Trim edges and cut into delicious chunks. I prefer to make them uneven as I think it gives it a more rustic look and feel.

Enjoy!

Vanilla Cupcakes

I thought it apt to start my first recipe post with something sweet so I have included my recipe for never fail cupcakes.

I created this recipe one day when we had unexpected guests calling in and I had very little time to whip something together. These cupcakes are really tasty however they are a tad crumbly but I like them that way. Depending how quick you mix they can be ready in under half an hour, they are also so simple to make that if you have any little hands that would like to help it will be perfect.

You will notice that there were some casualties between the shot of them cooked and the shot of them iced, Mr B discovered them and decided they were too tasty to wait until they cooled.

Ingredients

Makes approximately 16.

  • 200g cubed butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp Queen Vanilla Essence
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 2 ½ cups self raising flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tub of Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting – you could make your own but why bother!

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C /160°C fan forced.
  2. Line cupcake tray with paper cases.
  3. Cream butter, vanilla and sugar.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time while mixing. The mixture will separate at this stage; don’t be alarmed this is normal.
  5. Stir in half the flour followed by half the milk and repeat. Unless the flour has large lumps in it don’t worry about shifting it, shifting flour came about as flour leaving the old mills would often be clumpy or have pieces of husk remaining. If you are using a good quality white flour simply give it a quite mix with a fork to allow extra air in.
  6. If you are using a 1/3 cup-capacity cupcake tray (this is standard size) add 2 level tablespoons of mixture.
  7. Bake for 15-17 minutes until golden.
  8. Stand cupcakes for 2 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  9. Ice, decorate and devour.

Enjoy!