Friday, September 30, 2011

Pear and Almond Cake.

Here is my delicious Pear and Almond Cake with lovely caramelly slivered almonds covering it's top and a layer of ripe and luscious pears in the centre...yum!!
The recipe is from an old British Country magazine...one of my go to resources for British 'puddings' (the catch all word for all British desserts). In the last few years all Brit recipes have been converting to grams and kilos with attendant equivalents in ozs and lbs but now they no longer give the Imperial weights so I had to do a some maths to convert this recipe to Imperial for my little weighing scale is Imperial and it would be very confused if I asked it to weigh 75 grams. I have included cups but they are such an imprecise measurement as everyone uses them differently but I realize not everyone has a weighing scale either :) This New York Times article talks about the inconsistencies of the cup system. Each place I have looked for conversions from cups to weights and vice versa is different but here's one place to start: http://www.onlineconversion.com/weight_volume_cooking.htm
THE RECIPE: for best results have everything at room temperature. Pre heat your oven to 350F

Ingredients for cake

6 1/4ozs/175g/ 1 1/2 sticks of butter (as you can see in the photo below I use Kate's salted butter)

5 1/2 ozs/150g/ 3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs whisked gently

8ozs/220g/ 1 3/4 cups white flour, unbleached preferably

1/2 teaspoon bicarb of soda/baking soda

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

4 fl oz/140ml/ 1/2 cup sour cream

Juice and zest of 1 lemon unwaxed and preferably organic

2ozs/50g/ 1/2 cup ground almonds

2 peeled and sliced pears any variety but not mushy, must be firm but not rock hard.

For the topping:
2ozs/50g/ 1/2 stick butter (again I use salted you can use unsalted but this is a caramelly thing and really zings from the salt)

2ozs/50g/ 1/4 cup slightly mounded of brown sugar

2 tablespoons heavy/double cream

3ozs/75g/ 3/4 cup slivered/sliced almonds
My ingredients minus the lemon and sour cream...
1. Cream the butter and the sugar from the cake list together until light and fluffy.

2. Add the whisked eggs in 4 to 5 goes...the less you add at a time to the creamed butter and sugar and the more you beat the better the amalgam and the less chance of curdling...things being at room temp also alleviate the chance of curdling.

3. Sift together the flour, baking soda and nutmeg.

4. Fold in half the sifted ingredients.

5. Fold in the sour cream.

6. Fold in the rest of the flour mix.

7. Fold in the zest and the ground almonds.

8. Toss the pear slices in the lemon juice.

9. Spoon half of the cake batter into a 20cm/8" SPRING FORM pan buttered and lined with baking parchment...you'll see later why I have that in capitals! I was naughty and used a 6" x 3" high cake pan (because it produces cute cakes that are small in diameter and tall but the cooking takes longer and is less reliable when the original recipe calls for an 8" diameter pan)

10. Layer your pear slices over the batter thus:
11. Cover the slices with the rest of the batter and bob in the oven for about 40 minutes. 

12. Put the topping ingredients together in a pan and heat until the butter and sugar are melted...set aside.
13. Remove cake from the oven at 40 minutes and slather with the topping caramelly goodness and return to the oven for about another 15 minutes or until cooked...using a skewer to tell you if this cake is cooked is a little harder than usual as you may pick up some of the pear slices as 'wet' ingredients so you will have to use your judgement on doneness.
Now you can see why I capitalized the springform pan...I didn't read my recipe thoroughly enough and I used a regular pan and filled it a little too much...this cake rose quite a lot beware although if you used the size the recipe says to use you may well not have the silliness I encountered.... so how was I to get the cake out of the pan? I waited a goodly ten minutes for the cake to cool a little and the almond topping to set a little , I went around and around the edge with a knife until it seemed well free of the sides and then I inverted it onto a plate and then quickly turned it back right side up onto another plate... I was lucky it came out in one piece...be assured using a springform would have made this part a lot easier!!

Because of the sour cream and the pears in the centre this is a very moist cake - which I have a great fondness for AND it's flavour improves markedly with age...one of those better the next day cakes. 

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Happy Baking everyone...be in touch!!!
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