9 Aug 2015

syrupy pear cake

I’ve been meaning to share this pudding with you for weeks, but something else keeps coming along to write about. But I need to hurry, before pear season is well and truly over.
 
This syrupy, mellow pudding came about after a string of failed attempts at making pear clafoutis. I wanted something where the fruit — beautiful beurre boscs from my father’s trees — were the stars (I refuse to say ‘hero’). More fruit than cake. But the two recipes I tried were complete rubbery disasters. One was even from a beautiful book documenting life in rural France, so I thought I’d be on a winner there! But the custards were thick and somehow solid-but-bendy, just like industrial flooring one might find in kitchens or warehouses to stop your feet from aching. If that rubbery flooring was a creamy yellow colour.
Looked good - tasted rubbery 
 
I was complaining one afternoon to my mother when the light bulb went off. Another tough clafoutis, I moaned. I want something light, something to show off these delicious pears with their woody patina, something perhaps like an upside-down cake but not too cake-y; something along the lines of that Donna Hay upside-down syrup cake I make with the orange slices …
 
Ping!
 
There was the answer, tucked away in my own file of favourites all along.
 
So instead of paper-thin orange slices, there are elegantly cored pear wedges (use a melon baller to remove the seeds for perfectly circular shapes). There is a wonderful slosh (or two) of sherry in there, because the rounded mellowness of sherry (excuse the pun) pairs beautifully with pears.  And as with my orange original, the cake-to-syrupy fruit ratio is heavily weighted in the fruit’s favour. This was the light, sticky affair I was dreaming of.
Syrupy pear cake
Adapted from my upside down orange cake

  • Preheat oven to 160 and use a pan about 22-24 cm across that can go on your stovetop and in your oven.
  • First make the pear topping: put 1 cup white sugar plus quarter cup sherry plus quarter cup water in the pan, stir over medium heat till dissolved. Then stir thru 1 tspn speckly vanilla paste, then add pear wedges - enough to cover the bottom. I cut up three or four pears and see how I go; it will depend on the size of your fruit. Cook over a gently bubbling heat for about 10-15 minutes until fruit is softened (though beurre boscs do maintain their shape). Once done, remove from heat.
  • Next the cake: in a bowl, beat 2 eggs, half a cup of sugar and 1/2 tspn vanilla for about 10 minutes until the mix is pale and tripled in size. As I noted in my original recipe, have a stand mixer or very strong biceps.
  • Then sift in 1/2 cup of SR flour, 1/2 cup almond meal, and 75 gms of butter that you’ve melted and cooled slightly (I put it in a small bowl in the preheating oven).
  • Pour this carefully over the pears, then bake for 35-40 minutes. You may need to cover with foil towards the end. Once done, turn out onto a plate or enjoy straight from the tin.
 

12 comments:

  1. Yum, I love this type of fruity pudding, especially in this weather. I am tempted to try this tonight! Happy Sunday!

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    1. happy Sunday (and Monday) to you too jane! it's a great pudding for any time of year :-)

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  2. Mmm, you had me at syrupy; pear and cake were just wonderful extras. If only I had more than one pear in the fruit bowl right now.. I love the way you left the skin on, it looks so wonderfully rustic, and I imagine it tastes heavenly on this rainy weekend with a nice cup of tea:)

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    1. jo, it is perfect with a cup of tea. it's very nice cold. but rain? send some down here please :-)
      and the skin on is because I am a Lazy Cook :-)

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  3. tastes delicious too! just as good as the orange original.

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  4. Pear and cake is such a wonderful combination! I have several recipes that I use, pear pie (a frangipane/almond base, then pears, then a sweet shortcrust) and an open lattice tart (like french apple pie only with pears) and my new favourite, a pear cake from Rachel Allen, an Irish cookery writer. The last one is excellent warm with a blob of cream, etc. I'm just waiting for my first pears ever to ripen. Not sure when that will happen, we're at the end of summer over here in the UK, so soon I hope!

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    1. pear tart... now that sounds delicious! I've heard of Rachel allen, but I don't think I've read any of her cookbooks. I shall head to the local library to see what I can find. thank you for the tip off, caro, and I hope you soon have many pears!

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  5. Replies
    1. It really is, lizzy! thank you :-)

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  6. It sounds and looks delicious ... I would love a slice right now :D

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    1. please help yourself, frogpond - there's still a little left :-)

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