It’s currently wintertime in Sydney.
Now I know that for some of you, the above statement makes absolutely no sense. In fact, you’re sitting there thinking that it’s a pure contradiction in terms. Well I’m here to drop some knowledge people: yes, they do get winter in Australia.
Three whole weeks of it in fact! Burrrr.
I’ve expressed my opinion previously on the Sydney winter, and therefore am not going to keep talking about it, lest I start to get into rant territory. Instead, I’d just like to share some small thoughts with the dear people of Sydney. For example, did you know that wintertime can be a whole lot less traumatic if you a) get central heating in your house and b) dress appropriately? True story. Another true story: winter happens all over the world. Honestly. Everyone gets it at some point, so you’re not special, sorry. And lastly, don’t you know that winter is the perfect time to stuff your face full of all kinds of calorific yumness? It’s like, why it was invented.
So you see, you’re missing the point! It’s a time for tea and roasts and spuds and pudding with sticky sauce and melting cheese on stuff and many MANY hot ports. Fact.
Today I did some seasonal celebrating of my own by making this delicious pear and almond cake; and I would strongly encourage you all to do the same as it was totally divine. Pears are one of my favourite winter fruits and pairing them with almonds seems to work really well. This cake is dense, sticky and crumbly sweet. It’s the perfect warming reward after a chilly Sunday afternoon jaunt. It’s also a great reward for getting to the end of your chapter, or for keeping the couch warm all day, or for intending to go out, or for….
Pear and almond cake
I got this recipe from the River Cottage website, the only thing was, I had a slight issue with the quantities. Each time I’ve followed the original recipe, my pear to cake-batter ratio has been off, I’ve simply not had enough batter to make a decent cake, never mind one that isn’t practically all pear. So I’ve ended up doubling up the cake batter quantities and increasing the cooking time.
It’s the first time a River Cottage recipe hasn’t worked out perfectly for me and I’m a little dismayed. I’d be grateful for any tips or hints or feedback from people once they’ve made this.
OK, so for those of you who’d prefer to use the original recipe, click the link above. For those people brave enought to try my larger version, see below (and good luck!).
For the caramelised pears:
25 g unsalted butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
For the cake:
300 g unsalted butter, softened
250 g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
150 g wholemeal self-raising flour
150 g ground almonds
½ tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 120 °C. Grease a 20 cm diameter cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. Peel, core and quarter the pears. Next, melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Once it begins to bubble, add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved into the butter. Add the pears and cook gently, turning once or twice, until they have softened and are starting to colour. Set the pear and caramel sauce aside to cool.
In the mean-time, cream together the softened butter and the sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Next, combine the flour, ground almonds and cinnamon together, and fold into the butter and eggs mixture. Scrape into the prepared tin and arrange the pears on top and pour over any buttery juices left in the pan.
Bake for about 1 hour at 120 °C. Then turn up the temperature slightly to 130 °C and bake for a further hour and a half or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool before serving with some whipped or clotted cream.