'So many recipes, so little time' are words that spring to mind every time I browse the many wonderful cookery blogs and recipes pages on the web. For this long time collector of recipes, bookmarking a web site for later somehow doesn't promise that delicious sense of anticipation that comes from flagging the pages of a cookbook with coloured tabs, or indeed tearing a page from a magazine, with a firm plan to try your hand at making the dish yourself.
I've bookmarked dozens and dozens of recipes, but somehow don't get back to them, so my most recent practise is to have a few web pages open in my browser, thus reminding me about recipes I want to try in coming days. As time passes, I print the recipes and keep them in a pile on the kitchen bench along with any flagged cookbooks. That way, when I'm ready, I can quickly prepare a shopping list for any ingredients I don't have at hand.
Regular readers might remember that a while back I wrote about having special plans for some pears. As soon as I saw this creation on Inga's If in doubt, bake a cake blog, I knew it that my pears were destined for this cake. Of course I've tweaked the recipe, as you do. First, I cut back significantly on the quantity of sugar in both the cake and the stewing syrup. I also used baby pears — the kind that greengrocers and supermarkets (such as Aldi) sell for school lunch boxes. And I used a slightly larger tin, so my cake was not as deep as the original. (Note: Inga used an 18cm cake tin and used some of her batter in ramekins, which would work well too I imagine).
The cake is reminiscent of a rich and buttery cinnamon tea cake. Those with a good cake palate will know the type I'm referring to, I'm sure. It was smooth and yet just a little grainy too. And those pears, gently poached, then baked into the cake, were nothing short of exquisite. To my delight, the cake stayed fresh for a few days. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did, for the recipe is a keeper, my friends.
VANILLA TEA CAKE WITH BABY PEARS
To poach the pears:
5 baby pears, peeled and base cored
1 litre water
150g caster sugar
1/2 lemon - juice and zest (in wide strips)
Combine the water, caster sugar, lemon juice and zest in a wide saucepan. Gently place the pears into the syrup, then bring to the boil over a medium heat, lower the heat and cook/poach until the pears are just tender. Remove the pears, transfer them to a platter, and allow them to cool.
For the cake:
180g unsalted butter, softened
100g vanilla infused caster sugar
3 free range eggs
1/2-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
190g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
icing sugar, to serve
Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C. Grease a 23 cm round cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper. Combine the butter and caster sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after adding each one. Now add the vanilla extract and HALF of the flour, and mix until combined. Then add the baking powder, the rest of the flour and the milk, and mix to a smooth batter.
Transfer the batter into the prepared cake tin. Gently push the pears into the batter, making sure that they touch the bottom of the pan. Bake for one hour or until a skewer tests clean. Allow to cool and dust with icing sugar before serving. Store in an airtight container thereafter.
Tell me dear readers, do you have a 'system' to help you keep up with all of your favourite or current recipes? Do please share your thoughts and ideas. I love hearing from you.
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.