Sticky Toffee Pear and Ginger Cake

How wonderful! Windfall of Bartlett pears ūüôā

 

It’s Autumn, and finally the temperature in Melbourne has dropped a little!

I was lucky enough to receive a windfall of Barlett pears from my neighbour, however I noticed that the markets are full of these pears at $1 a kilo, so it was obviously a bumper year for them this year!

I’ve had my eye on this flavour combination for a while and had a couple of ideas that I wanted to throw together. ¬†Hope you enjoy it!

To see the video of this yumminess being put together Youtube Sticky toffee pear and ginger cake

Make this indulgent dessert for sweet-tooths, on the day  and dish it up warm, with double cream or good quality vanilla bean ice cream.

Deliciously indulgent. Sticky toffee, pear and ginger cake.

Sticky Toffee Pear and Ginger Cake

For top and sauce

120g butter

160g brown sugar

3 medium firm pears

handful of naked/ glace ginger roughly chopped

For cake

2 cups dried dates

2 cups boiling water

1 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda

100g softened butter

150g brown sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 tspn vanilla paste

195g self raising flour

 

Method top and sauce

Place butter and brown sugar into a small pan.  Place over medium heat and stir until smooth.

Pour into an 8 or 9 inch cake pan (or 3 x 5 inch pans,  2 x 6 inch pans)

Peel and slice pears.  Place them in a fan pattern into the sauce to cover the base of the pan.

Chop ginger coarsely and sprinkle evenly over the pears.

Method cake

Preheat oven to 175C

Roughly chop dates and place in a bowl.   Pour over boiling water and then add bicarbonate of soda.  Mix together and leave for 5 minutes.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined.

Use a food processor, hand held blender, or hand beater to whizz the date mixture until it is smooother but still a little chunky.

Add 1/3 of the flour to the butter mixture and beat until just combined.

Add 1/2 date mixture and beat until just combined.  

Repeat with flour and then the date mixture.

Add the last of the flour and beat until just combined.  A light touch with the mixing will ensure your cake is nice and soft!

Spoon cake batter gently over the pears.

Bake 8 inch pan for 50-60 min at 175C or until skewer comes out clean when tested.

(Bake 5 or 6 inch tins for about 40-50 minutes or until skewer comes out clean when tested.)

Cool in tin.

Invert onto a plate to serve while it is still warm and serve with double cream or good quality vanilla ice cream mmmmmmm.  Enjoy!

What more do you need? Maybe just a cup of tea? ;P

 

 

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Something Quick, Something Simple. Apricot, Ginger and White Chocolate Pavlova Recipe.

Sunkissed and freckled, just the thought of apricots remind me of the fantastic old apricot tree that was the jewel of my Mum and Dad’s old garden. Not at an old house, just in the old garden. Unfortunately, with progress, renovations and just many years passing by, since the tree was first planted; that gnarly old tree with knobs of amber sap, hardened like jewels, dotted along its branches, has long gone.

I have been sadly disappointed with the apricots that are available from the supermarkets for many years now. I pick up those little golden orbs, full of promise, to find a rubbery texture, then bite down to find, I have not been transported back in time. Sad, but I do understand the need to produce a product that will travel well and that will look good on the shelf, I just really, wish that it didn’t come at the expense of all that wonderful texture and flavour. The old fashioned apricots were small and soft, traits which just don’t cut it on the mass market today. Yep, I can just imagine the horrid, bruised mess of apricot puree, that would greet any greengrocer that might open a box of old fashioned apricots in the modern supermarket age!

I had made a promise to myself to plant an old fashioned Blenheim apricot tree in my garden last year, only to find that they weren’t available in 2012! I was willing and ready to make my own memories, to remind myself of times when life was simpler, when Summers seemed softer (they weren’t!) and when apricots ruled my Januaries. So, disappointed ūüė¶ Talk about first world problems, ha ha!!

So, here I am, bang in the middle of the Summer of 2012/13. Stone fruits abound and the apricots, well, smelt good, for the first time in years! I bought a bag, I was excited, I got them home and ‘bummer’, they were sour. My obvious answer to, ‘too sour’ is to pair it with ‘too sweet’ ūüôā

too sweet, too sour, with a touch of the exotic.  Delicious!
Too sweet, too sour, with a touch of the exotic. Delicious!

Bake a pavlova shell with the recipe I posted here. Or, try this other recipe!

Apricot, ginger and white chocolate pavlova

4 egg whites

1 cup of sugar

1/2 tspn vanilla

1 tspn white vinegar

1 1/2 cups thickened cream

100g white chocolate

4 pieces Bundaberg naked ginger (crystallized ginger)

6 apricots sliced

handful of blueberries

fresh mint sprigs

Heat oven to 150 degrees celsius.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.

Add sugar gradually, beating well after each addition, until dissolved. Add vanilla and vinegar and beat a further 1 minute.

Pour mixture on to a tray lined with baking paper. Use spatula to form round shape approximately 20cm wide, Use spatula to scrape the sides up so that they are straight and the mound looks like a cake shape.

Bake for 45 minutes or until meringue is crisp. Take out and run a sharp knife around the top about 1.5cm from the edge which awill allow the shell to stand as the top sinks when cooling. Turn oven off and allow pavlova to cool in the oven.

Beat cream until soft peaks form.

Place white chocolate in a bowl and microwave on med-high for 1 minute 20 seconds. The chocolate may not look melted but take it out and stir. If it does not melt with some stirring, place it back into microwave at med-high for 10 second bursts and stir between bursts, until melted. Let cool slightly.

Stir chocolate into cream and place in fridge.

Chop ginger finely or whizz in a processor. Stir into the white chocolate cream.

Pour cream onto the top of cooled meringue shell.

Decorate with sliced apricots, blueberries and mint leaves. Dust with icing sugar if you so desire!

A slice of this apricot pavlova has made it just a little bit easier for me to wait. The fantasy is of course, taking the first bite out of my own soft, sweet and fragrant, sunblushed apricots. One day ūüôā

Sun kissed apricots, fresh off the tree.  Aaaaah, only a distant memory
Sun kissed apricots, fresh off the tree. Aaaaah, only a distant memory

For extra warmth, just add Ginger

Padded jackets at the ready.¬† 2 weeks before Winter is to officially begin and we are already freezing, snow on the mountains and frost on the lawns, but it’s that little snowflake that flashes on the car dashboard that drives home (sorry, pun intended) that it’s REALLY cold!

I feel warmer already ūüôā

When I need extra warmth, I know what I reach for¬†other than¬†a rather large doona¬†and a mug of hot cocoa,¬† it’s ginger.¬† Ginger has been an Asian staple for centuries and used medicinally as well as in cooking.¬† The heat adding properties do not stop at its spiciness but help to warm the body according to Chinese Medicine.¬†¬† I love ginger and have found that for those persistent winter coughs that just won’t budge, hot ginger tea with a big spoon of honey is just the thing to help stave off the hacking for a little while.¬† Just, roughly crush and chop, ¬†a knob of ginger about the size of your thumb and steep it in a mug of boiling water (preferably in a tea infuser or else you will be spending a lot of time picking out bits of ginger from your mouth!),¬† add a generous¬†tablespoon of honey, cover and allow the flavours to develop for a few minutes.¬† If you are up to a bit of stronger medicine, add a measure of Dom Benedictine.¬† Sip slowly while wrapped up in your favourite blanket, ¬†seated in front of an open fire.

Even if it doesn’t stop your coughing, and even if you have realized that there is actually no tea in my ‘ginger tea’ recipe, what a great way to spend half an hour!¬† ūüôā

On a more¬†traditionally¬†Aussie ¬†front, my sister and I still¬†crave an Arnott’s ginger snap with a cup of milky tea , when we think of¬†4 o’clock.¬† I can always tell¬†the girl¬†is back in Melbourne for a visit when I find an open¬†packet of the old ginger snap biscuits in¬†my Mum’s¬†pantry!

Gingerbread cake made with freshly grated ginger and fragrant with golden syrup is¬†my¬†major¬†weakness as far as ginger goes,¬†and as far as I am concerned, I don’t make it often enough.¬† I used to follow recipes that used ginger powder and could never understand why you would use powder when fresh ginger was so abundant.¬† Supposedly the powder is more aromatic but I love the flavour and texture of fresh ginger and always use it in my cakes.¬† The other thing¬† I never understood as a kid was my Mum’s weakness for chocolate coated ginger, such a ¬†weird combination!¬† But, don’t we live and learn, I am sure my Mum is getting the last laugh now!

So, is ginger winter seasonal produce?  Well, tender, new young ginger has been making its appearance over the past month or so, at my local Asian markets, so I am going with YES!

And so, on the back of that one great assumption regarding Winter produce, I am very excited to unveil my Winter

Chocolate swirled and chocolate topped, just begging for a cup of tea!

seasonal cake.¬† I just couldn’t go past gingerbread cake, and to make it completely indulgent I have swirled it with melted dark chocolate and ginger bits, draped it with a¬†chocolate ganache¬†and topped it all with Buderim’s ‘naked’ ginger and more chocolate, of course!

Serve with a cup of steaming hot tea…ginger, or otherwise!

Chocolate Swirled Gingerbread Cake, now this is how I like to stay warm!
Dripping ganache, ‘naked’ ginger and…more chocolate!

Available June 1st-August 31st 2011 only.

My seasonal cakes may not be the same every year so I hope that you take the opportunity to enjoy them while you can!  $45  for a 12cmx22cm loaf