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!

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread / Homemade Nutella

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This recipe goes out to all the Nutella lovers out there… and I know there are a few including my very own sister-in-law who eats it by the spoonful! Today I’m excited to share with you a recipe for Chocolate and Hazelnut spread or.. homemade Nutella. I’m just going to jump straight into this one, because if you’re like me, the only thing running through your head right now is “Om nom nom nom”…..

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of raw hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup of icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 of cocoa
  • 4 tbs of coconut oil

Method

  • Preheat oven to 220C and roast hazelnuts for 8-10 minutes until golden.
  • Place the hazelnuts in a teatowel and rub together to remove the skins, it’s okay if some stubbon skins won’t budge.
  • Place hazelnuts in the food processor and blend continuously until a smooth butter forms (around 3 minutes).
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and continue blending until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  • Sit back and omm nom nom nom………

TIP: Add extra hazelnuts on top for extra noming crunch.

This will last in the fridge of up to two weeks, probably longer if it’s not eaten on the first day but best to err on the side of caution.

Enjoy!

Malteser Cake

Let me start this by confessing that I am in no way a baker. I dread the thought of having to accurately measure quantities, sit by the oven until the skewer comes out clean and pace the kitchen nervously wondering if it that flour was self-raising or plain.

So when my hubbies birthday rolled around I knew that along with it came the birthday cake. With the infrequency of my baking I decided to go hell for leather and make a version of Good Taste Magazine’s Amazing Maltesers Cake.

Cue sweaty palms and heart palpitations. Now as much as I love Maltesers and the malt flavour I knew there was no way we would use enough malt powder to warrant buying an entire jar. Coffee on the other hand is a completely different story, as was the prospect of including delicious coffee cream as the layer filling. I also couldn’t bring myself to include the three layers of cream in the cake, though I am sure my arteries would have found it delicious so I opted for a mere one layer of heaven. Although, if you feel like adding the full three layers I am sure the cake would be polished off in one sitting.

Without further ado the recipe for the best cake I have ever made, or had for that matter is below. This comment was seconded by my hubby, although I guess he kind of had too, and by the ladies at work who are avid cake bakers and eaters with the recipe requested and made on the same day – so hey, I must have done something right.

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Ingredients

CAKE

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 125g butter, chopped
  • 3/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2 x Jumbo bags of Maltesers – I had some leftover for snacking

COFFEE CREAM FILLING

  • 1 tbs instant coffee granules – add more or less depending on how strong you would like your coffee. I am not a regular drinker or fan of instant coffee, however I have recently found Maccona Gourmet Range – Indulgence which I don’t mind. 
  • 2 tbs boiling water
  • ½ tbs cocoa powder
  • ½ cup icing sugar – add more or less depending on how sweet you would like it
  • 300ml of thickened cream

GANACHE

  • 300g dark cooking chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream
  • 30g butter

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease a 20cm round cake pan with butter and line base and side with baking paper. I did’t use a 20cm cake pan so you will notice mine isn’t as tall as the Good Taste cake, however this wasn’t a problem as I didn’t need to cut it into four layers.
  2. Place the brown sugar, milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook in microwave on high, stirring every minute, for 3-5 minutes or until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Use a balloon whisk to whisk the combined flour and cocoa powder into the butter mixture. Whisk in the egg. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside in the pan for 5 minutes to cool before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. To make the ganache, place the chocolate, cream and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook in microwave on high, stirring every minute, for 2-3 minutes or until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.
  5. Place the boiling water, coffee granules and cocoa powder in a bowl and mix until smooth.
  6. Pour in the cream and icing sugar. Use an electric beater to beat the mixture until fluffy.
  7. Set the ganache aside for 1 hour 30 minutes or until thick, glossy and spreadable.
  8. Meanwhile, use a large serrated knife to cut the cake horizontally into layers. Place the cake base on a platter. Spread the layers with the cream. Cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour 30 minutes to chill.
  9. Spread the ganache evenly over the top and side of the cake. Decorate with Maltesers. To get even rows when decorating, first make a strip of Maltesers straight down the centre of the cake, then add in rows on either side.

Enjoy!