Sunday, June 6, 2010

It's my party and I'll bake if I want to

Alas, I have finally left the teen years behind me...and to celebrate I baked myself a birthday cake. Some might take pity on me, thinking what sort of a girl has to make her own birthday cake, but I'll take any opportunity I can...seriously.

I'm really into the hazelnuts at the moment and after meshing together a few recipes and ideas I came up with a cake that presents them perfectly. A moist cake with chunks of pears throughout, topped with a lightly roasted hazelnut, cinnamon infused crunchy topping which is dotted with chunks of chocolate.

Since I was inspired to create this flavour combination on a whim, feel free to collaborate with the recipe. Use apples instead of pears. Chuck some raspberries in the mix. Use walnuts or pecans instead of hazelnuts. Go on, go a little crazy.

Moist Pear Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Topping

for the cake:
125g unsalted butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour (if you don't have this pancake mix works well too)
1/4 cup cornflour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
100g chocolate**, broken into pieces (dark or milk...or both)
200g can of tinned pears (roughly chopped, leftover liquid in can set aside)

for the crumble topping:
100g chocolate**, chopped into fairly small pieces
100g whole hazelnuts
1/4 cup brown sugar
1tsp cinnamon
1 tbs plain flour
25g butter
2tbs oats

Cream butter and sugar in a bowl until thick and pale with an electric beater. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift in the flours, cinnamon and baking powder. Pour in the milk. Be careful not to over beat, the mixture needs to stay light and fluffy. Fold in the pears and chocolate.

For the crumble, cut the butter into small squares and add in the rest of the ingredients. Mix together. Set aside.

Spoon the cake batter into a well buttered cake tin and put into a 180 degree oven (fan-forced). After about 20 minutes, take the cake out of the oven and add the topping mixture on top of the cake. Put the cake back in the oven for a further 10-20 minutes. Don't put the topping on the cake prior to baking, as the topping will sink through the cake batter and the nuts will burn from being in the oven too long. To test if the cake is ready, insert a skewer into the cake and if it comes out clean it is cooked all the way through and ready.

Once out of the oven, pour about 150ml of the leftover pear juice over the hot cake so it can be soaked up and made even more moist and juicy. Let it sit for 5 minutes before turning out of the pan.Et voila!
p.s. Please excuse the quality of the photo. I couldn't get a very good picture of it as I was too busy trying to stop my brother eating it before everyone else could get a piece....and no he's not six, he's twenty-six.

**Use dark or milk chocolate, however there is only one thing I ask of you - please use Fairtrade chocolate. I know it may be hard to come by (Green & Blacks Organic chocolate has the ethical trade stamp and Cadbury Dairy Milk now uses Fairtrade products) and can be slightly more expensive than non-Fairtrade, but the pay off is well worth it knowing you are actively participating in the fight towards increasing awareness and consumption of fair trade products. The more we buy Fairtrade, the higher the demand on the farmers and manufacturers to use Fairtrade practices. Below is the symbol to look out for on chocolate packaging.

To watch the BBC report about the current situation on Fairtrade chocolate, click here - Chocolate: the Bitter truth. I highly recommend it.

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