This is a lovely cake to have just warm with crème fraiche, good quality vanilla ice-cream or honey flavoured Greek yoghurt . The pears are poached with the classic flavours of the very popular chai. You could quite easily poach the pears in any of your favourite chai tea blend. Tea Too has a great selection to play with. This recipe has been adapted from the beautiful book, Wild Sugar Desserts by Skye Craig and Lyndel Miller.
- 350g raw caster sugar
- 300ml freshly squeezed orange juice or pear juice
- 15 cardamom pods, (smashed using a rolling pin just to open up the pods)
- 3 cinnamon quills
- 6 cloves
- ¼ teaspoon whole peppercorns
- Small knob of fresh ginger roughly sliced
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- 1 vanilla bean pod, cut in half and seeds scraped, (put pod and seeds in saucepan)
- 1 L of cold water
- ¼ cup of pear brandy (optional)
6 pears, either Corella or Beurre Bosc Pears, peeled and core removed at base of pear using a melon baller and put in a bowl of acidulated water by squeezing the juice of one lemon)
- Combine all the poaching syrup ingredients, except the pears, in a saucepan on medium heat.
- Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer.
- Gently add the pears to the poaching liquid and cover using baking paper, making a circle the same size as the saucepan.
- Continue simmering pears for 10 to 15 minutes or until just tender.
- Remove pears from the syrup and allow to cool.
- Allow the syrup to simmer until it has completely reduced to a delicious dark golden, runny syrup. Strain and set aside.
- 250g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 150g raw caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 6 free range eggs separated
- 150g almond meal (ground almonds)
- 150g fine instant polenta
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- Zest of one orange
(Optional Pecan or Walnut topping)
½ cup of roughly chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
2 tablespoon of poaching liquid
Mix together both ingredients and scatter over cake in the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Preheat oven to 180°C
- Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla, egg yolks, one at a time and continue to beat.
- Add the almond meal, fine polenta, cinnamon, orange zest and nutmeg.
- In a separate bowl whisk egg whites until stiff peaks and then fold gently into the cake batter.
- Spoon the cake mixture into the lined cake tin and with a spatula gently press the batter and smooth.
- Insert pears evenly into the cake and wrap small pieces of foil on the pear stems to prevent them from burning.
- Bake the cake on the centre shelf of the oven for 30 minutes then reduce the temperature to 160°C, if adding pecans or walnuts, scatter over cake now then lightly cover the top of the cake with a layer of baking paper and continue baking for a further 15 minutes or until the cake skewer comes out clean.
- Once the cake is cooked, remove from the oven, remove the foil on the pear stems, prick cake all over with a skewer. Pour half of the hot syrup over the warm cake and allow to cool. Pour a second addition of remaining syrup.
(NOTE: Keep any remaining syrup as it is a delicious topping over ice-cream)