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 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:
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'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 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 of those better the next day cakes. 

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Happy Baking in touch!!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Having fun with Spoonflower!

The actual fabric swatches laid out with the print outs from my computer...a pretty good match here!
Spoonflower is a print on demand company based in Georgia, USA. It's a wonderful idea and is an excellent resource for artists who want to sell their work directly to the fabric buying public and great for people who have Etsy shops and want to design their own fabrics to make up pillows, bags, teddy bears and all manner of things made from fabric. Above are two designs I just received today..."Europa" a painting I originally did as a watercolour design for use as a dinnerware pattern for PTS America as seen below and "Folkloric Star".

Creating the allover print for this design was challenging and fun...the most complicated print I have done so far...and I can't wait to do some more complex designs from my paintings!!
Once I have done the allover design for fabric/textile application I upload to Spoonflower and order a swatch size to see how the design prints. Next I size the design to work for flip flops in my CafePress store. I just ordered these flip flops for myself and can't wait to see how they look.

My first Holiday design "Folkloric Star" there'll be more to about some snowmen?? allover print using two of my cupcake illustrations combined "Cupcakes Galore"
My "Created by Mother Design" as an allover - on the first sample I received the yellow was too bright, almost you probably know the image you see on your screen is different than the one that prints out onto paper and the colours are different from each and every printer SO calibrations sometimes need to be made. Below is "Kaleidoscope" which began life as a large scale acrylic painting on panel - my first sample of this I realized the motifs were too small so I am awaiting a new swatch with them enlarged.
I learned textile design on the job in New York City many moons ago working for a bodywear company who were wonderfully supportive so I am delighted I can now offer my own work via Spoonflower...I love fabric and I used to be thrilled and amazed shopping in the garment district in NY for new fabrics - I even used to make my own clothes but no longer have the patience to do that...sewing machines drive me nuts!!

The following is a list of the fabrics my designs will be available upon - (that's dreadful English but I'm not sure how to rework it!!):

Quilting Weight Cotton:
100% cotton fabric with a soft hand, easy to sew

Organic Cotton Sateen:
100% organic cotton sateen, glossy finish, white
Organic Cotton Interlock Knit:
100% organic cotton. Very soft, natural off-white knit perfect for t-shirts, dresses, baby clothes and more.

Upholstery Weight Cotton Twill:
Sturdy 100% cotton twill with an optic white finish.

Linen-Cotton Canvas
Sophisticated light-weight canvas woven from 55% linen and 45% combed cotton.
Silk Crepe de Chine:
100% silk with a delicate, semi-sheer texture
Cotton Voile:
100% cotton voile, combed, delicate, silky texture. Please note that this fabric replaces cotton lawn, which was discontinued on 11/30/2010.
I'm looking forward to making a scarf from this's lovely!
* NEW * Cotton Silk:
55% cotton / 45% silk fabric with a soft sheen on the printed side

Are there any of my artworks you 'd like to see as a textile design?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Banana Raisin Tea goood!!

Does my puppy really think she's getting a slice of this divine Banana Raisin BreadCake...I think not!! - especially so as raisins can be lethal to our furry dog friends...but that aside this is a really divine cross between a teabread (a sweet loafy thing with yeast) and a fruit's really just a light fruitcake with bananas in to be honest and it  is absolutely delicious.
The ingredients above and the cake pictured here don't have nuts in but the second one I made...and the third and now for sure the fourth had either walnuts or pecans in to round out the tooth and's great without nuts but even better with and be sure to lightly toast the nuts first to elevate their flavour.
Adapted, ever so slightly, from "The Food for Thought" cookbook by the restaurant of the same name in Covent Garden, London....a wonderful vegetarian eatery.

Firstly soak your dried fruit in hot tea for a couple of hours to plump before using in this recipe.
I try to give measurements for cups and weights but I always do weights myself as it makes for a much more reliable recipe and for consistency when you make it again so I would recommend weighing if you can.

 Set your oven to 325F when you're ready to start the recipe

4oz/1 stick softened butter (I always use salted in desserts..I just like the flavour)
8oz/1 cup sugar
4 fl.ozs/1/2 cup strongly brewed tea - I used Earl Grey and it was excellent!!
4oz/ 5/8 cup raisins
4oz/1 cup walnuts or pecans lightly toasted first until they are fragrant...allow to cool and then crumble to smallish pieces.
4 fl.ozs/1/2 cup liquid combination of whole milk (I used Elderfower Farm unpasteurized in glass bottles from Lincolnville, Maine) and the tea
strained from the fruit
2 goodly sized bananas mashed smooth
1 teaspoon bicarb of soda/baking soda
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I LOVE nutmeg but you can use ginger or cardamom or a combination)
8oz/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence/extract


1. Soak raisins in hot tea for a couple of hours then drain and reserve the tea....add milk to tea to make 4 fluid ounces/1/2 cup.
2. Cream butter and sugar together until light in colour and fluffy.
3. Beat in the tea/milk, bananas and will be sloppy and kind of curdled looking like below but not to worry!! Then stir in the drained raisins...
4. Sift dry ingredients together.
5. Gently fold dry ingredients into banana/butter slush until well combined.
6. Pour into a lightly buttered and floured cake tin...mine is 6 x 3 and it is a perfect size for this recipe...which can be doubled and made in a 9" pan.

7. Bake in 325F oven for about 40-60 minutes. The cooking takes a long time and you may have to check a couple of times to make sure it is cooked in the first one you see here was a little undercooked in the middle...but then I cooked longer the next time...just make sure a skewer slipped into the centre of the cake comes out clean and your cake is done. If your cake is getting too brown put a little aluminium foil cap on it until it is done.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before unmolding and allowing to cool on a cake rack...if you leave in the pan to cool or cover before it is completely cold it will sweat and become soggy...we don't want that do we??
 I could happily eat a slice of this cake every day for the rest of my life...I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!!
Happy Baking...Patricia
This post is part of the Tea Time Treats at Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked

Tea Time Treats
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