I have a couple of guilty pleasures. One of them is RuPaul’s Drag Race which I’ve been racing through since I started a couple weeks ago on Netflix. For some reason, Season 1 isn’t on there so I started from Season 2 and am now watching the finals of Season 4. It’s amazing how beautiful some of the drag queens are! They are gorgeous! And RuPaul!! The first time I saw RuPaul in drag, it didn’t occur to me that she was the same Ru as the male host. Every time she comes out onto the catwalk for judging, her statuesque figure forms hearts in my eyes. Anyway, I love when at the end she goes “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?! Can I get an Amen?!” AMEN! #sotrue
My other guilty pleasure is going to the supermarket directly below my condo and practically prancing towards the chiller where the fruits on 50% discount are. It’s like the highlight of every grocery trip and sometimes, I find fruit that still look good at half price, and I pick them up for baking without knowing quite what bakes I want to put them into.
A few days ago, I stumbled upon some juicy looking Packham Pears so they came home with me. I also saved a packet of fresh cranberries doomed for the incinerator, took them with me and quickly popped them into the freezer until I could think of how they could be put to use.
I really wanted to do something that included both the pears and cranberries. However, I didn’t want to cramp Pears’ style since cranberries can be slightly more tart and bolder in flavour. So I made cranberry curd to tame its acidity – I doubled my recipe from below and used some in the ‘Vampire Diaries’ cake I shared about in my last post.
And with the pears, I decided to highlight their ripened sweetness and creamy texture in a Pear and Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cake. Pear and hazelnuts go together so well, and who says three’s a crowd?! because the chocolate chips turned it into a party!
Pear, Hazelnut and Chocolate Chip Cake (Makes 1 6″ round)
175g Butter, Cut into small pieces
100g Hazelnut Flour
140g Plain Flour
7.5g Baking Powder
1 Large Pear or 2 Small Pears, Peeled, Cored and Chopped. Coat lightly in flour.
50g Dark Chocolate Chips
- Preheat oven to 160 deg C and line a 6″ round baking tin.
- In a mixing bowl, rub butter into hazelnut flour, plain flour, baking powder and sugar until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Alternatively, in a mixer with the paddle attachment on the lowest speed, mix butter into dry ingredients, stopping just as the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Mix eggs into the mixture briefly.
- Fold in chopped pears and dark chocolate chips.
- Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 45-50min until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
90g fresh or frozen Cranberries
1 Egg Yolk
1/2 Tbs Lemon Juice
1/8 tsp Salt
30g Butter, cubed and at room temperature
- In a small saucepan, put cranberries and water, and place onto medium heat. Stir occasionally and once all the cranberries have burst (about 8min), remove from heat and strain through a sieve. Allow to cool for 15-20min.
- In a clean bowl, whisk sugar with egg and egg yolk until mixture starts to became pale and a little fluffy. Then combine with cranberry mixture, lemon juice and salt.
- Pour everything into a small saucepan and place over low heat. With a spatula, stir gently to ensure that the base does not burn.
- Once mixture has thickened enough to coat the spatula, remove pan from heat and strain the mixture into a clean bowl.
- Gently stir butter into the curd. Wrap clingfilm directly over the curd and chill. Once completely cool, it’s ready to be used!
- Slice cake into three layers and spread a very thin layer of cream cheese frosting or vanilla buttercream on top. Pipe around the circumference to create a border and spoon 1/3 of the cranberry curd on top. Gently use the back of a spoon or spatula to spread the curd evenly.
- Place second layer on top and repeat step 1.
- Place top later on top and frost the top with cream cheese frosting or vanilla buttercream. Now, you may either pipe around the border and fill the space within with the rest of the curd, or you can do what I did and drip curd around the edges before piping decoration on top.
*The cake is your canvas so let your creativity flow in how you choose to dress it! 🙂
And there you have it! A cake that brings the mind the best of Autumn in a mouthful. The crumbly, toasty, nuttiness the hazelnut flour brings to the cake is sweetened by the specks of chocolate chips that weave through it. The smooth textured, juicy cubes of pear bring textural contrast and natural bursts of sweetness to the cake while the slightly tart cranberry curd – not just a pretty pink, brightens and lightens up the density of the cake as a whole.
The cream cheese frosting I used to keep the curd ‘in’, lent a light, tangy cheesiness and a rich, luxuriant mouthful to the crumbly texture of this cake. A vanilla buttercream will work just as well while being more neutral in flavour. It’s all a matter of preference but I went with the former for the simple reason that I was making cream cheese frosting anyway for some carrot cake orders. I was being lazy and decided to make a slightly larger quantity so that I wouldn’t have to make vanilla buttercream specially. #truestory #lazynat #noshame
There you go! From fruit sitting in the ‘Death Row’ chiller to being stars of this playful cake. How unpredictable life can be eh?!