Pear and Cranberry Spice Cake


Pear and Cranberry Spice Cake, baked by my friend Lou, for our enjoyment at Mahjong yesterday, with cappuccino made by her partner Michael, it doesn't get much better.

Mahjong game in progress with coffee and cake to come.

This cake could proudly grace the counter of any well known coffee and cake establishment around the country, it is that good. Lou managed to arrange the pear slices perfectly, and topped with the apricot jam glaze it looked beautifully glossy, professional and inviting.

It wasn't a cinch to assemble though. There are a few stages to making this cake, befitting it worthy as an elegant accompaniment to any celebration or special event. Lou also chose to bake this cake to celebrate her parent's 70th wedding anniversary, and even though they are in Perth, on the other side of the country, they were thrilled. I think that is a lovely story.

It can be served warm in winter as a pudding, or for afternoon tea.

Ingredients:

8 pears (Williams or Packham)
80g Pistachio nuts
80g whole almonds
200g frozen or dried cranberries
225g unsalted butter
1 tbsp honey
225g castor sugar
160g flour
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp sweet quatre epices (a mixture of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg can be substituted)
1 tsp baking soda (sifted)
180g egg whites (about 6 eggs)

  1. Spray and line the base of a round springform 23cm cake tin with non-stick baking paper
  2. Peel pears and cut them in half. Cut each half into 6 or 8 wedges discarding the core. The thinner the wedges, the better.
  3. Place the wedges in concentric circles around the base of the tin, overlapping each wedge onto the next. Cut cranberries in half and scatter around the pears, concentrating the majority of them on the edge of the tin. As the pears will eventually be the top of the cake, it's appealing to see the contrasting red cranberries peeping through the pears.
  4. Repeat with a second and third layer of pears, leaving the centre (about 1/3rd) of the cake with only one layer of pear.The centre of the cake will then cook better. Cover tin with a tea towel while you prepare the cake batter.
  5. Roast the nuts in the oven at 180 deg C for 5  minutes. Cool them completely and then process to a coarse meal in your food processor.
  6. Melt butter over a medium heat gently bringing it to "beurre noisette" i.e. brown butter just as it begins to smoke. Have a bowl ready containing the honey; strain the butter into this (holding back the burnt milk solids).
  7. Combine all of the dry ingredients with the ground nuts in a separate bowl and pour over the hot butter/honey mix, stirring the mixture as you go. Gently whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and carefully fold into the batter.
  8. Pour batter over pears, being careful not to disturb the layers. Bake at 180deg. C for approx 50 minutes or until cake is golden an springs back in the centre.
  9. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. When cake is cold a warm glaze of melted apricot jam can be applied for a beautifully glossy finish.

If you are serving this cake as a dessert, I would try it with a light Tokay or Muscat.





(This cake was originally created by Chef Lorraine Godsmark, at Sydney's Yellow Bistro and Food Store and published in Wine Selector Magazine, Autumn 08. A timeless recipe.)










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