double ginger cake with oven baked pears

I do like ginger and was looking for an easy to make ginger cake. Whilst trawling the internet I came upon this Nigel Slater recipe for a double ginger cake. It listed stem ginger in syrup amongst the list of ingredients, which is almost impossible to find in Sydney. When I was in London in May, I'd planned to buy a jar but ran out of time. I wanted to make this particular cake recipe so I looked online and found lots of recipes for home made stem ginger and made a batch. It's not hard to make but if you can't be bothered, I'm sure crystallised ginger would work just as well. The ginger syrup on the other hand is so amazing I made a second batch and I have plans to make a ginger syrup cake very soon.

Home made stem ginger on hand I put the cake together and baked it using a cake strip to shield the cake from the heat and watched in horror as the cake sank in the middle. Chastened I remade the cake without the cake strip and it turned out just fine. You live and learn.

When it came time to decorate the cake I made a batch of orange flavoured cream cheese icing then topped the cake with some oven baked pears, an idea I appropriated from the Cook and Baker recipe book.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 17cm round cake. If you'd like to make a 23 cm cake just double all the ingredients and bake for the same length of time. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Double Ginger Cake with oven baked pears adapted from (Nigel Slater)
1 cup self-raising flour
1½ level tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ level tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
100g golden syrup
1 tbs ginger syrup. If unavailable just add another tbs golden syrup
60g butter
30g stem ginger in syrup (or crystallised ginger if unavailable) finely diced
60g brown sugar
125 ml milk
1 large egg

60g butter, at room temperature
125g cream cheese, softened
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 tsp grated orange rind

To decorate
3 firm corella pears
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon quill
A few walnuts, plain or candied

Grease and line the base and sides of a 17cm tin with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Sieve the flour into a large bowl with the ginger, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and the salt. Put the golden syrup, the ginger syrup and the butter into a small saucepan and warm over a low heat. Add the ginger to the pan with the sugar then let the mixture simmer for a minute, giving it the occasional stir to stop the fruit sticking on the bottom.

Combine the egg and milk in a small bowl. Remove the butter and sugar mixture from the heat and pour into the flour, stirring smoothly and firmly with a large metal spoon. Mix in the milk and egg. The mixture should be sloppy, with no trace of flour. Spoon the mixture into the lined cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake in its tin to cool. When completely cold remove the cake from the tin still in it's paper then wrap it in foil or plastic wrap and leave to mature for a day or two before eating. You can eat as is or if you like you can ice and decorate the cake.

Oven baked pears
While the cake is baking, core then halve the pears. Divide each half into quarters. Line the base of a baking dish with baking paper. Scatter the pears over the base of the tin and sprinkle over the brown sugar and tuck in the cinnamon quill. Once the cake is cooked, increase the oven temperature to 190ºC then place the baking tin in the oven and roast the pears for about 30 minutes turning over halfway through, until the pears are golden brown and soft. Cool, then store in a sealed container until needed. The pears can be made ahead of time.

For the icing, put the butter, cream cheese and the grated orange zest into a bowl and mix until smooth, then add the sugar and beat until soft and fluffy. Spread a layer of the mixture over the top of the cake then decorate as desired. I used a 1 cm piping tip and piped around the edge and in the centre to form a base for the oven baked pears. I topped the icing with the pears and sprinkled over a few leftover chopped maple walnuts from this spiced apple loaf.

The cake went down like a storm at work. The combination of the ginger cake with the oven baked pears and the orange flavoured cream cheese icing is delicious but I'm planning to tweak the cake recipe just a little to make it a bit more luxe, so watch this space.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,



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