Thursday, 28 August 2014

Pear, Ginger and Lemon Cake

The weather seems to be tipping us prematurely into Autumn, but this is giving me a good excuse to start using the seasonal flavours earlier. I've always preferred Autumnal baking to any other season - I love it when the first British apples, pears and plums appear in the shops, and can be paired with the warm flavour of spices, or used in hot puddings.

Now that I'm only cooking for two, I'm looking for more recipes for small cakes, and for cakes which will keep for more than a couple of days. Good keeping quality generally rules out cakes made with fresh fruit, and while I was looking for dried fruit to use instead, I was quite sad to see that there is a much smaller range available than a few years ago - where did the dried peaches and plums (I don't mean prunes) go? If I asked, I guess I would be told that there was no demand for them, but it's such a shame to be limited when looking for produce. Fortunately dried pears are still available, so I grabbed a pack to make this cake.

When I checked the basic recipe for this cake, I realised that I had scaled it up many years ago from one which was made in a 1lb(small) loaf tin, so it was easy to go back to the original, although I did cut down on the sugar a bit.

200g SR flour
100g butter
75g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger
100g dried pears, chopped and soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, then well drained
3 balls of preserved stem ginger, washed and finely chopped
1 large egg
2 tablespoons syrup from the ginger jar
milk or yogurt to mix - about 4 tablespoons (I used vanilla flavoured pouring yogurt)
4 unrefined cane sugar cubes roughly crushed (or a tablespoon of Demerara sugar)

Preheat oven to 180C and prepare a small loaf tin - I used a pre-formed paper liner.
Rub the butter into the flour, then stir in the sugar, lemon zest and ground ginger. Add the pears and stem ginger, and mix well to coat the pieces with flour. Then mix in the egg and ginger syrup and enough milk or yogurt to give a soft dropping consistency.
Put the batter into the loaf tin, spread evenly and sprinkle on the sugar.
Bake for about 75 minutes, or until a test probe comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling.

This was a really harmonious blending of flavours and textures; there was the right amount of warmth from the ground ginger, which was balanced by a hint of lemon. The pieces of preserved ginger in the cake gave little bursts of spicy heat and the pears were soft and chewy. My husband usually only says anything about my cooking if he dislikes something, but even he said how good this was!


Baking Addict said...

Sounds like a lovely cake perfect for 2. I've never baked with dried pears before. The flavour combination sounds delicious even though I'm not a huge fan of ginger!

Gloria Baker said...

I love this pear ginger cake! I saved this recipe:)

Katie said...

That looks a lovely loaf, especially with nice big chunks of pear and ginger. Lovely flavours.

celia said...

So pretty - I love the golden chunks of pear. And aren't those paper liners just the best thing? :)

snowy said...

pears are my favourite fruit, and a lovely idea pairing it with ginger. Looks delicious.

Anne Szadorska said...

I didn't actually know you could get dried pears, will have to look better next time! Your cake looks fab - I do love ginger in baking and I made a mango cake with stem ginger the other night but only added 1 ball of stem ginger, could barely taste it and as a result the dearest loved it but I think I should be braver and try your 3 for more oomph! Never knew to wash it, I just chucked it in...!

Suelle said...

Chopping the ginger probably isn't vital, Anna, especially if it's finely chopped. I treat it like glacé cherries - rinse and dry to prevent pieces sinking.