I’ve been testing this recipe for a little while. I kept making it and liking it, but not loving it. I like to love all the recipes that I produce. In between making the various mediocre chocolate and pear brownies I managed to do some other cool stuff. For example, I made a milo mudcake, which I’ll post soon. I broke several peoples’ diets with a gorgeous white chocolate peanut butter cheesecake (for real, get the recipe here) and I went to Groovin the Moo and danced away a day that I would usually have spent baking.
It’s no secret. On days where I’m at work, it pains me slightly to have a measly slice of toast, or a pathetic bowl of rice bubbles. I start work at 7, and I’m not that much of a morning person, so I literally don’t have the time to make myself something epic for brekkie every morning. It’s not that I don’t appreciate toast and rice bubbles…they just don’t knock my socks off.
Pears and honey.
So I created a honey pear cake.
Makes sense, right?
I was lucky enough to receive another delivery of free pears last week (I spoke about the first delivery here.) I’m currently trying to find more ways to use these babies up, because I’ve eaten about 50, poached close to a dozen, given away what seems like bagfuls, and I’m still left with a bowl of them which are threatening to go bad on me.
Poached pears are a failsafe dessert. They’re quick, they’re easy, and they’re bound to satisfy every time. You can dress them up or down, your guests will devour them regardless. To celebrate these reliable little beauties, I’ve put together four variations on the classic poached pear.
The first of these is a Lavender and fruit tea. The tea that I used is from my local fruit shop, and I’m not sure how widely available it is – this is what it looks like, if you’re interested. It’s got cranberry, apple, rosehip and hibiscus in it, but anything fruity and sweet enough will match the lavender perfectly.
I’ve still got a crazy amount of pears to work my way through. And it’s glorious. I wrote about being given too many pears last week and I’ve not yet run out of things to bake with them!
The weather in Sydney turned pretty dismal this week, so I’ve been poaching and baking and snuggling up with Norman at every opportunity.
It’s also the first day of Autumn today! This cake is perfect for Autumn because it’s not quite heavy enough for a Winter’s pudding, but it’s not too Summery either because of the almondy hints and the caramel notes created by the brown sugar. The chocolate and cardamom mingle beautifully to create warm, rich little mouthfuls, while the pear brings a lovely moistness to the cake.
Best served sprinkled with icing sugar, as it needs very little accompaniment. If you’re feeling especially indulgent on a dreary, rainy day, serve warm, with a dollop thick cream.
Chocolate cardamon pear cake
- 180g butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 pears
Cream together the butter and brown sugar until pale. Add in the eggs, followed by your almond meal. Sift in the self-raising flour and add in the milk to thin out the mixture. Mix the cardamom into the batter thoroughly, then fold the chocolate chunks in as well.
Peel and core your pears, then cut them into thin wedges. Arrange the wedges around the cake in whatever fashion you like, pressing them in slightly. I tend to organise them so that they fit neatly into slices once the cake is cooked.
These lovely little muffins are gorgeous and packed with floral notes. They’re the perfect afternoon pick-me-up because they’re full of pears and they’ve not got too much butter or sugar in them; the sweetness in the mixture mainly comes from the vanilla bean and the earl grey tea. They’re also great because there is no wastage! You make use of the poaching liquid and the pear peel, so they’re super thrifty! Thriftiness is in at the moment, thank you Macklemore!
I bought my tea from a fabulous little tea supplier I stumbled upon at the Marricvkville organic markets, but you can use whatever type you want. The Ttotaler tea that I used is particularly special because it’s bursting with rose petals, which give the mixture a beautiful fragrance and a pop of colour as well.
My hunt for pear recipes was inspired by this cuteness, which I found on Pinterest. He is now my lock screen on my phone – he just makes me smile.
My lock screen did not go unnoticed by The Boy. Despite thinking I was crazy, the boy left me my own little smiley pear. Said smiley pear is now sitting in a display cupboard, I can’t bring myself to eat him.
This recipe was made with his friends though, I’m not sure how to break it to him…
My new mixer (beautiful beast that it is) has prompted much reflection. I debated what to mix in it first. I didn’t want it to be something boring, but I didn’t want to make something really fussy (who does?).
And so I’ve chosen a recipe that comes highly recommended from a fellow baking enthusiast. This recipe is not mine, but has been tried and tested in mixers that are not my own.
In this recipe I used the bread hook, and it really has me hooked (sorry for the bad pun.) This mixer does all the work for you! I’ve had a food processor before, but the mixer seems much gentler and thorough. I’m not saying everyone should have one – this recipe, as with all the recipes I post, can be done with a bowl, a wooden spoon and a little muscle – the mixer just cuts down on physical exertion…it appeals to my inner sloth.
I’m looking forward to using my KitchenAid for new recipes and old ones too. I have a habit of naming things, I’ll hopefully have come up with a name for the mixer by the next post. I’m thinking Penelope at the moment, but that might have too many syllables…suggestions?
- 2 1/3 cups plain flour (use bread flour if you’ve got it)
- 1 sachet instant dry yeast
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 45g butter, softened
- Egg wash (1 egg and 1tsp of milk)
Don’t preheat the oven yet, you’ve got a while before this deliciousness needs to go into the oven. Combine the flour and yeast. Add
in your eggs, milk, sugar and salt and mix them to combine. Continue to mix for a further five minutes, adding your butter in slowly. If you’re doing this by hand, make sure your butter is really soft (but not melted!) to make the mixing easier.
Once your butter is incorporated mix the dough for about eight minutes, or until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If you’re using a bread hook like I was, this only takes three minutes on a medium setting.
Line a tray with enough baking paper to envelop the dough and grease the paper. I mean it when I say grease the paper, this dough is sticky. I didn’t grease my paper and I regretted it. Wrap your dough in the baking paper and cover with a tea towel. Put the tray in a nice warm place for 2-3 hours and allow it to get all warm and risen. It should just about double in size.
I put mine in front of the heater (much to Norman’s annoyance), but this was just me being impatient. Ideally you would leave brioche to rise overnight then refrigerate briefly the next morning, ain’t nobody got time for that though.
I waited two and a half hours before I succumbed to the excitement and threw the mixture into a greased loaf tin.
When you’ve pre-heated your oven to 160°C got your dough pressed into the tin, whisk up the egg wash to brush over every corner of the brioche top. Norman loves it when I need an egg wash, because he gets the leftovers.
Slice thickly and enjoy! Brioche is rich and cake-like, but can be eaten at any time of the day and suits sweet or savoury dishes and eaten warm or cold. My sweet tooth got the better of me and I topped mine with pear and chocolate, a failsafe combination.