playing with flour

Category: Almond

Caramelised Pear and Almond Cake

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So it’s been a while huh? I could make excuses but to be honest I just got busy and lazy. I’m finally understanding what it means to be an intern – long days, stressful situations and very little time to do the fun things like baking. I’m not complaining though, I’ve learnt so much already and I’m actually enjoying it which I think has surprised me! When I did get some free time recently I took the opportunity to make dinner and dessert for a fellow intern who had resorted to eating microwaved meals – and this cake was the result.

I’ve made this recipe a number of times and keep coming back to it. It’s a moist dense cake with sliced pears covered in caramel. Yep, it’s as good as it sounds. The almond meal and buttermilk make the cake super moist and as there’s a decent amount of caramel topping it sinks into the cake and runs down the sides – does it get better than that?

Hopefully this recipe makes up for my long absence. I’d recommend not overfilling your pan as you want the caramel to penetrate deep into the cake. I’d also suggest cutting your pears a bit thicker than I did as they have plenty of time to cook through and this will give you a good flavour and texture. If the cake gets dark too quickly cover it with foil for the rest of the cooking time and make sure you cook it only until just done.

Forgive me yet?

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Caramelised Pear and Almond Cake

180g brown sugar
100g unsalted butter, melted
3 ripe pears cut into slices

Preheat your oven to 180° and prepare your baking tin with baking paper. Pour the brown sugar over the base and top with the melted butter. Use a spoon to ensure all the sugar gets coated. Arrange the pear slices on top.

170g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
250g plain flour
100g almond meal
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
250ml buttermilk

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. In a separate bowl sift the dry ingredients together then fold into the mixture. Stir through the buttermilk until just combined.

Pour over pears and cook for 60 to 80 minutes until just cooked in the center. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Best served still warm with ice cream.

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Almond and Rhubarb Pannacotta

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Wow it’s hot. The heatwave is starting to have an effect on me, I’m tired and cranky and have no desire to do anything but lie on the couch and read novels. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s pretty much a perfect afternoon for me, but it is hard to be productive when you’re melting.  For anyone not in Australia we’re currently experiencing some super hot and dry days, with temperatures exceeding 45° in some areas. It’s been up to 38° here at home and I’ve spent some of those days moving furniture around, which in hindsight was not the smartest idea. Unfortunately my problems are only minor compared to others, as the heat is leading to bushfires throughout the country and many people have lost everything. If you’ve been affected or you’re in a risky area I hope you’re safe and doing all right, my thoughts are with you.

When it’s this warm it is hard to get up the motivation to bake anything and turning on the oven seems ridiculous. This is where these desserts come in. Creamy smooth pannacotta, fragrant with the smell of almonds layered with tangy bright rhubarb – it’s the perfect treat to cool you down.

The almonds infuse really well into the milk and leave a sweet and strong liquid that sets to give a complex and delicious custard. While they’d be fantastic just like that the rhubarb simmered with vanilla gives a great contrast and freshness to keep the dessert from being too heavy. If you don’t have a vanilla pod use a teaspoon of vanilla essence instead. If you buy pre-toasted almonds there is only a small amount of stove work needed, so this is a simple and delicious treat for a hot day.

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Almond Pannacotta

3 tsp gelatine
½ cup sliced almonds
300g cream
80g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180° and spread the almonds on a tray. Place in the oven and toast for 5-10 minutes until golden and fragrant. While cooking place the cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Once toasted immediately add the almonds to the mixture and turn off the heat. Cover with a lid and let sit for half an hour to infuse.

Sprinkle the gelatine over the almond mixture and turn the heat back on until small bubbles appear around the edges of the liquid. Stir the mixture thoroughly to ensure the gelatine is dissolved. Strain through a sieve then ladle into glasses or pannacotta moulds. Place in the fridge for half an hour to cool before adding the rhubarb.

Vanilla rhubarb

2 cups chopped rhubarb
½ cup sugar
Vanilla pod

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft, stirring occasionally. Remove the vanilla pod before spooning on top of the pannacotta. Return to the fridge for another hour to set completely.

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