poached pear ginger and hazelnut cake

It's winter in Sydney so the fruit selection in the fruit shop is pretty limited, just apples, pears, citrus fruit and expensive berries. Pears were on special at my local fruit shop, so I bought a few and looked through my recipe books for pear recipes.

I actually found I had loads of options but settled on a Flour and Stone Pear, Ginger and Hazelnut Cake recipe. I poached 3 small pears but they didn't all fit into my 17cm round tin, so I used a small loaf tin instead. I also didn't have all the ingredients on hand, so I had to make a few swaps such as golden syrup for treacle and crystallised ginger for stem ginger.  

Here's the recipe for you which makes a small loaf cake. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and 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. 

Flour and Stone Poached Pear and Ginger Cake – makes a small loaf cake
Poached pears
500 mls water
250g sugar
1 cinnamon quill
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
1 strips of lemon peel
2 star anise
2 cloves
3 small pears

75g toasted hazelnuts

Cake batter
60g unsalted butter, softened
50g brown sugar
25g treacle/golden syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
40g sour cream
50g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg  
1½ tsp ground ginger
25g finely
chopped crystalized ginger, or stem ginger 

Poached pears
Combine the water, sugar, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, bay leaf and lemon peel in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow the syrup to simmer while you prepare the pears.

Peel the pears, then cut them in half and remove the cores. Pop the pears into the syrup, then cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until they are tender. The poaching time can vary, depending on the ripeness of the pears you have chosen, so test by piercing one of the pears with the tip of a paring knife. You want a little resistance because they will be cooked again when they go into the cake. Allow the pears to cool in the syrup and store them in the fridge for up to 4 days before you bake the cake.

Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C, conventional. Line a small loaf tin with a sling of buttered baking paper, dust with flour and set aside.
Coarsely chop a tablespoon of hazelnuts to scatter over the base of the tin before baking. Place the remaining hazelnuts into a food processor and process until you have finer crumbs to put in the batter.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and golden syrup on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until pale and fluffy.

Give the egg a light beat with a fork, then gradually add to the fluffy butter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula every now and then if the egg is not incorporating with the butter. Add the sour cream and beat again to combine.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together and fold them through the butter mixture, then fold in the chopped ginger and remaining ground hazelnuts to complete the batter. 

Drain the pears on paper towel or a tea towel to remove any excess liquid and arrange them, cut side down, in the tin. The syrup can be frozen for next time you need to poach pears. 
Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the surface using a spatula or a palette knife. Place the tin on the centre rack of the preheated 180°C, conventional oven.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 150°C fan/170°C conventional and bake for a further 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin for 30 minutes, then turn it out onto a serving plate. If you like, you can reduce some of the poaching liquid and serve the syrup alongside the cake. 

To serve
This cake is fabulous served with custard or ice-cream. It will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

I had my slice with a cup of tea and shared the rest of the cake with my work colleagues.

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

Bye for now,



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