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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Bliss-ful, Blood orange, Birthday Brulee

Bliss turns 2 this month. Yep, just like that my baby is walking on her own! :O

hmmm, I only put 1 candle on ‘coz I thought it looked better?! Questioning my judgement now, since it is for a 2nd birthday…
The first few fruit from my Mum’s blood orange tree. She’s had it for a while! They live up to their finnicky reputation

I just can’t thank my friends and family enough for supporting me in my endeavours with Bliss while I have tried to find my feet. And, now I find, I have come to a point where I have had to make some decisions as to which direction I want to take this little business, which has come so far. During the time that I was most involved in my pondering and constant perusal of cooking shows, cake blogs, and other cake-y Facebook pages, my inspiration arrived in a little delivery of first fruits, from my Mum’s blood orange tree.

I first came across blood oranges while I was living in China and was immediately taken by their unique bloody looking flesh and aromatic, tart flavour. They have been described as having a flavour that is between an orange and a raspberry. Expect a smaller, thinner skinned fruit, with a tartness that you do not normally get with a navel orange. There is some question as to whether the fruit originated in China, however it is Sicily that boasts a long history of cultivating the blood orange and using the gorgeous flavour in anything from salads to soft drinks . These finicky fruit trees require scorching daytime heat and frigid night-time temperatures during Autumn to push the naturally produced redness in the fruit, to higher levels within the flesh and sometimes within the skin.

And so, it was these little fruits that put me on the path of remembering what I said after my first Christmas of baking under the Bliss banner. I love creating, I love sharing, and I love fresh, seasonal produce.

Only a little hint of red in these babies, the real deal are much more likely to attract Dracula!

Of course, I will keep baking indulgent chocolate cakes for my gorgeous customers! However my time is limited, my resources sparse and as much as I love the idea of going retail with my cakes it is not really the road for me, without a capable partner. So, what I can do, and would love to do more of, is to keep putting together Bliss-ful recipes, of wonderful cakes and desserts (mostly chocolate based!) that I can share with everyone. What do you think? Would you like to hear more about how my brain works and try my ideas out at home?

I really hope so?! And, that is why I am posting a first recipe with this path in mind. Please feel free to share and comment, I love a good chat! If you do share my recipe, I would only request that you please give my blog recognition.

I hope you enjoy this impressive, Bliss-ful, Blood orange, Birthday Brulee!!

*Bake the custard the night before you are serving it, to allow it to cool thoroughly in the fridge and reduce stress!!

Blood Orange Brulee

6 large egg yolks

1 cup castor sugar

1 vanilla pod (or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)

600ml cream

Finely grated zest of 1 blood orange

Roughly chopped flesh of 1 blood orange

Slices of blood orange for garnish

3-4 tablespoons brown sugar

Decoration

150ml whipping cream

2 tsp castor sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Block of good quality dark chocolate

Toffee walnuts (see previous blog for recipe ‘Toffee anything is Bliss”)

Preheat oven to 150C.

Place egg yolks into a 1.65l Pyrex dish (actually, any oven proof dish will do, you just don’t want it too large as the custard will sit too low)

Whisk in the sugar until well combined.

Split vanilla pod and place into a pot with the cream ( or just add a teaspoon of vanilla seed paste to the cream), and heat until nearly boiling. Take out pod and scrape seeds back into the cream. Add grated orange zest.

Pour heated cream slowly into the egg yolk mixture while stirring constantly.

Drop roughly chopped orange pieces evenly around the bowl, into the custard mixture.

Place bowl into a roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with boiling water, until water reaches half way up the oven proof bowl.

Place tray into oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Custard should still be wobbly when you take it out of the oven however, it should not shake as if the centre is still completely liquid. Allow to cool.

Refrigerate custard for at least 4 hrs, or leave it over night and get a good nights rest!

Place slices of blood orange on top of the brulee in your own creative pattern or just put 3 slices in the centre, like I did.

Sprinkle brown sugar over the top of the custard and the oranges. Preferably use a brulee torch to melt the sugar and let it caramelize, otherwise put bowl under the grill for approx 2 minutes and allow the top of your custard to brown. ( I have never had much luck with this method, so don’t really recommend it).

Pop it back into the fridge for about an hour to make sure the brulee has hardened.

Looks good enough to eat! Serve as is, with some fresh fruit on the side. If you want it to look extra sexy, keep on reading…

I would be happy to serve this as is, for a family dinner however if you want it to look extra sexy, keep going!

Whip cream with sugar and vanilla extract until it holds soft peaks.

Drag a sharp, cooks knife across the back of a block of good quality dark chocolate to produce some chocolate curls.

Pipe cream around the edges of the bowl in over sized rosettes. Place toffee walnuts and chocolate curls alternately on top of the cream rosettes.

oh yeah…

Toffee ‘anything’ is Bliss

NO!!!! Before you say “YUCK”, and stop reading I must plead with you to persevere, please???

Seriously, put ‘toffee’ in front of almost any food and it sounds amazing! Ok, maybe not calamari…

Walnuts.

I know, I know, you and I both immediately think, “Oh no, bitter, slightly soft, stale, and just all round gross.” Am I right? But, please, please, please stay with me, if only out of loyalty to the Australian farmers out there who grow this much maligned nut, that is usually reserved for dodgy, Christmas gift baskets. Believe it or not, I have also discovered that there is some scientific evidence to suggest that walnuts may also help to improve efficiency of fat and carbohydrate break down within the body so that must be one more reason to keep reading ūüôā

“How could I possibly change your mind”, you ask? Bliss-ing up simple foods and recipes doesn’t need to be difficult. Just add toffee! Who doesn’t love toffee? Put the word toffee in front of almost anything and it becomes an absolutely irresistable treat. Put toffee in with some walnuts and the flavours meld and mature into something worlds away from the nasty, stale, bits that stay in the nut bowl during the holiday season.

I just happened to be in Woolworths today and picked up a tub of Macro walnuts. They were crying out to be bought and eaten, but if you can get fresh picked or have a tree, even better!

The flavour of a good walnut is already fresher and lighter than anything that may jump out of the murky depths of your childhood food memories, and the very slight bitterness that you notice at the very end is, in fact the perfect foil for a good toffee. In fact, once toffeed, the humble walnut, takes on a warmth and depth that actually tastes so much richer than the product that you first started with. Eating even just one, immediately evokes visions of open fires and lovely big glasses of red wine.

So here we go! Although nut season is Autumn (think squirrels!), I see lots of shelled nuts readily available at markets now. I guess it takes time for them to be picked, shelled, dried and then get onto the shelf! I challenge you to pop out and buy some lovely organic walnuts, and make this really simple, low-cost recipe.

Tell me if it doesn’t change your mind about walnuts?

Toffee Walnuts

150g shelled walnuts

1 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons water

A non stick chefs pan is perfect for this recipe but any sauce pan will do.

Keep boiling until you get your toffee nice and dark. That’s when it’s at its most tasty!

Place sugar and water into pan and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.

Increase heat and boil sugar for about 5 minutes or until sugar becomes dark caramel colour.

Decrease flame to low and throw in walnuts. Stir until all the nuts are coated.

Pour out onto a buttered (optional), non stick pan and cool.

Pour the toffee walnuts onto a non stick tray. For a little extra smoothness, butter the tray first

(Immediately soak cooking pot in water for easy clean up.)

Once tray is cool, put into the fridge until toffee is hard.

Break apart into pieces and eat as is, or serve as a garnish on desserts.

Transformed from scary and shunned to an irresistable treat. Shiny, rich and flavourful. Yum, toffee walnuts ūüôā

Autumn…apple upside down cake season

Royal Gala, straight off the tree

It was 7.30pm, every night, by the time I sat down and turned on the  TV.  And, every night, at 7.30pm Toby Puttock’s beaming face, framed by a tousled mane of carefree ’country boy’ curls, would appear and he would begin touting the virtues of late Summer in the country, of hanging upside down in trees,  and of course, the beginning of….’Apple season’!!

I am partial to apples, all sorts of apples, I hold no one aside, I like them all.¬† Apple‚Äôs are so simple, such a staple amongst fruits, all at once, sweet, sour, crunchy, thirst quenching and fulfilling.¬† Since the beginning of time, nothing quite speaks of ‚Äėdown on the farm‚Äô, old fashioned, goodness than apples for the teacher, apples in your school lunch, apples stewed, baked and toffeed.

After 2 weeks of allowing my subconscious to fall deeply in love with new season, Autumn apples, my brother’s beaming face appeared at my doorstep with a bag of tree ripened…apples!!  How extraordinary!!!  And, what a bag of apples they were, absolutely beautiful, home grown, handpicked and completely pesticide free.  My first seasonal chocolate cake took form there and then.

Chunky, caramelized apple, coconut and white chocolate upside down cakelet

It was a no brainer really,¬† it just had to be apple upside down cake.¬† It may come of no surprise, but somehow, the richness, and homeliness of an upside down cake has always held my imagination.¬† I made my first one as a child, and still can‚Äôt go past one if I am presented with apples.¬†¬†BUT, of course,¬† it can‚Äôt be any old apple upside down cake.¬† I started off making a few little test cakes.¬† Chopped roughly in big chunks, I stewed the apples in butter and brown sugar, oh, the aroma of sweet apple, and caramel were bewitching.¬† A sprinkling of¬†nutmeg and there I was, standing at the stove eating the apples straight out of the pan.¬†¬†When I did manage to make them into cakelets and¬†finally turned them out of the tins, they¬†were just plain yummy, I loved them for what they were but really were these little cakelets special enough to present as a Bliss offering?¬† I ummed and ahhhed, so I guessed the answer was no.¬† I needed to move onto the next step, what could I do with the cake recipe to give it more oomph?¬†¬† Coconut and white chocolate sounded like the perfect accompaniment to caramelized apple, and yes, it was!¬† Moist coconut strewn throughout the cake and a good dose of coconut milk upped the ante and they were a smashing success throughout the household.¬† I tasted them, I photographed them and looked at them from all angles.¬† But, were they good enough to make the ‚ÄėBliss‚Äô seasonal menu?

But, were they good enough to make the ‘Bliss’ seasonal cake menu?

I ummed and ahhed‚Ķso I guessed the answer was, no.¬† It needed more, it needed pizzazz, it needed even more drool factor, it needed to be a ‚Äėhome made, indulgence‚Äô.¬† Home made needs to be at the heart and soul of the cakes that I bake but sometimes the look and taste need to be slightly more sophisticated to fit the ‚Äėindulgence‚Äô part of what I want to do.¬† I let out a big sigh when I realized what lay ahead of me.¬† Caramelized, chunky apples are my long time, personal love but, I knew it was time I grew up and moved on‚ĶI needed to let go.

I searched my heart, I searched my soul, then I searched my entire library and came up with the solution…and it made me smile.

Toffeed apple slices   (Seriously, who wouldn’t smile?)

A sticky, fragrant, layer of apples, looking reminiscent of a tarte tatin.  Contrasting with a rich and moist, white chocolate cake, which has soaked up just a smidgen of that sticky sugar through the top, little chewy pieces of moist coconut, protruding through each bite for just a touch of extra texture and a hint of depth…now THAT is a cake you can indulge in.  And, all topped with crunchy, roasted hazelnuts.  How could I not smile?

So here it is, my first seasonal offering.  Inspired by, beautiful, home grown Royal Gala apples, from my brother’s tree.  Toffeed apple, coconut and white chocolate upside down cake, with roasted hazelnuts.

Toffeed apple, coconut and white chocolate upside down cake with roasted hazelnuts

Only available until end May 2011

Made with seasonal apples

$48

I’m very happy to offer you my very first, fresh produce inspired, seasonal chocolate cake and I hope you like it too.

My seasonal cakes may not be the same every year so, please enjoy them while they last!   Cheers Lynnette X