Pear & Almond Cake with Amaretto Caramel Sauce

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My toddler loves pears. Which is why I buy them by the sackfuls. Which is also why I always end up with a bunch of pears that ripen all at the same time. There’s only that many pears we can eat per day! There are oh so many elegant pear desserts I want to try but this particular bunch had gone too soft. Hence this cake.

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You can use bottom of the bowl, overripe pears and still have this cake turn out stellar! It’s a very simple, no fuss recipe. The only work involved is whipping butter and sugar and that only takes about 5 minutes.

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This recipe was originally measured out in grams. I have converted them to cup and tablespoon measures. I have included the weight measurements in italics if you prefer to go that route.

This recipe also mentions Self Rising Flour. You don’t have to rush out to the grocery store to buy a bag, or worse, abandon this project altogether! You just need all purpose flour, baking powder and salt and you can make your own batch of self rising flour. Recipe for that is given below.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • Peeled and roughly chopped pears – 3
  • Unsalted butter* – 1 cup (200 grams)
  • Granulated sugar – 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp (125 grams + 1 tbsp)
  • Large eggs – 2
  • Self rising flour** – 1 cup minus 5 tbsp (100 grams)
  • Ground almonds or Almond meal – 1/2 cup plus 4 tbsp (80 grams)

*If using salted butter leave the salt out of the self rising flour recipe given below

**Self rising flour – Take 1 cup all purpose flour, add 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Whisk to combine. Measure and use as directed

For the caramel sauce

  • Salted butter* – 1/4 cup
  • Light brown sugar – 1 cup
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
  • Amaretto extract – 2 tsp (optional)

*If using unsalted butter add 1/2 tsp of salt to your recipe

Method

The cake

  • Preheat oven to 375 F or 190 degree Celsius. Grease and flour a 9 inch circular cake pan. Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature and the butter is softened
  • In a medium saucepan melt 2 tbsp of butter. Add 1 tbsp of sugar and stir till it melts. Add the peeled and chopped pears and simmer till they turn brown and the sauce thickens a little
  • In a large bowl add the remaining butter and sugar and whip together using a mixer till it turns light and fluffy. This will take 5 to 7 minutes
  • Add the eggs one by one and whip thoroughly after each addition
  • Add the flour to this mixture in three batches and combine on low speed just until incorporated
  • Add the ground almonds or almond meal and using a spatula stir it gently through the batter
  • Pour the batter into the cake pan. Level with a spatula. Arrange the cooked pears evenly over the surface of the cake. Pour some of the sauce from the saucepan over the cake
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes till the cake turns golden brown and a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean
  • Cool the cake in the pan set over a cooling rack. Once it is completely cooled remove from pan

The amaretto caramel

  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat
  • Add the sugar and cream and stir. The mixture will foam up quite a bit. Make sure you use a saucepan with tall sides
  • Let it cook for about 5 minutes stirring constantly
  • Add vanilla extract, amaretto and salt (if using) and stir
  • Let the sauce simmer on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes till it reaches the desired thickness. For this cake I prefer an unsalted, slightly thin caramel sauce that pours easily over the cake without clumping

Assembly

  • Place the cooled cake on a cake stand or plate. Pour the amaretto caramel sauce generously over the cake and garnish with additional chopped or slivered almonds

This cake can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days. Anything longer than that, it will have to be stored in the refrigerator.

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Recipe adapted from Frugal Feeding

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Fig Loaf

When your toddler refuses to get within 10 feet of anything that even remotely resembles a berry or dried fruit, you grumble a bit, blame it on her daddy’s genes and then, if you’re like me, you get baking. I find loaf cakes are excellent for camouflaging all kinds of those ‘too healthy to eat’ ingredients that your toddler and/or husband actively avoid. That’s how this Fig Loaf came to be.

It’s extremely easy to make. It goes excellently well with tea or coffee and it makes a great breakfast too! I like it lightly toasted with some chocolate spread and sprinkles on top. Now tell me that didn’t entice you!

This recipe requires you to make a fig puree or ‘jam’. You then add this puree to the batter which gives the loaf cake its pure fig-ey taste. It is a simple process that takes about 10 minutes start to finish.

If you want to forget about the loaf cake and just settle down with a bowl of this and a spoon, that’s okay too. I won’t mind.

UPDATE! I tried baking this recipe with Aquafaba, which is basically water in which chickpeas have been cooked, with fantastic results. Just substitute the egg in this recipe with 3 tbsp of aquafaba and follow the recipe as is. It turns out perfect as you can see from these mini loaves

Ingredients

  • All purpose flour – 1 and 1/2 cups
  • Baking soda – 1 and 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Egg – 1 large
  • Oil – 1/3 cup (Any neutral oil will do. No olive oil)
  • Granulated sugar – 3/4 cup (Can increase to 1 cup for more sweetness)
  • Buttermilk – 1/4 cup
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips – 1/3 cup
  • Chopped dried figs – 1 heaping cup
  • Brown sugar – 1 tbsp
  • Lemon juice – 1 tsp
  • Water – 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

Method

First we make Fig Puree

  • In a small saucepan combine figs, brown sugar, lemon juice and vanilla essence and cook over medium low heat. Once the sugar has melted add the water to the figs and cook them down, stirring occasionally. Make sure the figs don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn
  • Once the figs turn mushy and begin to break down, take the pan off the heat and allow to cool. Puree the fig mixture, using very little water if necessary, to form a chunky ‘jam’. Set aside

Now onto the bread

  • Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 degree Celsius
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside
  • In another bowl whip the egg using a hand blender till it turns frothy
  • Add the sugar to the egg and whip till the mixture becomes very pale and fluffy. This takes 2 to 3 minutes
  • Now add the oil and the fig puree to the egg-sugar mixture and whip till it is thoroughly combined
  • Next add half the flour mixture and whip briefly to combine
  • Add in all the buttermilk and whip again
  • Add the remaining half of the dry ingredients and whip till it is all incorporated
  • Using a spatula gently mix in the chocolate chips and make sure there are no streaks of flour in the batter
  • Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan till it is 2/3 full
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, check on the loaf cake. If the top is too dark, tent the loaf pan with foil and continue to bake till it is done. This ensures that the top doesn’t burn while the cake bakes
  • The loaf cake is done when a tester inserted into it comes out clean or with very few crumbs attached.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes on a cooling rack
  • Gently invert the pan onto the cooling and let the cake slide out and then allow it to cool completely

NOTES – I used a 7.5×3.5×2.5 inches loaf pan and had a bit of batter left over that made 3 small cupcakes. Every oven is different. Keep an eye on your loaf cake after the 30 minute mark to make sure it doesn’t over bake. Store the loaf cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Then store it in the fridge.

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This recipe is based on the Fresh Fig Bread recipe over at thespruce.com

Microwave Brownie in a Mug

I’ve made multiple versions of this cake-in-a-mug dessert. And blogged about it once before. It can be found here. It’s truly quick, fast and satisfying. What’s not to love?

But why am I blogging about this again? Especially when there are millions of great recipes online?

It’s because this little brownie swept me off my feet! Quite literally. It is so rich and so gooey and so fudgy that the moment I dug into it I stopped, grabbed the nearest chair, took a deep breath and did what any blogger would do.

I clicked this picture. Then I posted it on whatsapp and Instagram and publicly declared my love for it on Facebook!

The magic ingredient here is the chocolate chunks. It elevates the brownie to a different level altogether. Try it for yourself. It’ll make you go ‘mmmmm!’

Note: The quality of your cocoa powder and chocolate will determine the quality of your outcome so do use the best you can lay your hands on

Ingredients

  • All purpose flour – 1/4 cup
  • Icing Sugar – 2 tbsp (you can use regular white sugar but I suggest you blend it to a coarse powder first. The crystals here in India are too large)
  • Cocoa Powder – 2 tbsp
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Water – 1/4 cup
  • Oil (anything but olive oil) – 2 tbsp
  • Brewed coffee – 1 tsp (you can add a 1/2 tsp vanilla extract instead)
  • Chocolate chunks – 1 tbsp plus a few more for the topping

Method

  • Add all the dry ingredients to a microwave safe mug and stir with a fork to combine.
  • Add all the liquid ingredients and stir to combine. There should be no lumps. At this point you will be excused for wanting to skip the next step and drink this straight out of the mug. I know I was tempted but hold on. You will not regret this
  • Add the chocolate chunks and stir. Do not leave this ingredient out. This is what makes the brownie so gooey and delectable
  • Sprinkle a few chocolate chunks on top and and microwave it for 1 minute.

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  • I have a 750W machine and my brownie was done in 1 minute. But check at the 45 second mark.
  • Since it’s a microwave we’re dealing with, the difference between a moist brownie and a lump of coal is literally a few seconds. So keep checking after the 45 second mark.
  • Forget the coffee – I know I can’t believe I’m saying this – but this brownie is best paired with vanilla ice cream

A (Not So) White Cake

This was our anniversary cake. I wanted to make something truly elegant. Something white.

So I embarked on an ambitious project. New recipe. New decorating technique. A very tight deadline.

Lesson learnt. Never attempt something new when you dont have time and/or you’re baking for a special occasion. Stick to what you do best. Leave the experimenting for another time. I think I should turn this into a poster and stick it above my oven.

But I digress. While the perfectionist in me can find a million flaws which are purely cosmetic, the cake itself is pretty good. It has a nice crumb and stacks well. I paired it with a vanilla custard filling and frosted it with vanilla buttercream. And the new technique I was talking about? A white chocolate lace collar.

Husband said “Very pretty!” and proceeded to demolish half the cake. I call that successful 🙂 The buttercream is baby approved too!

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I used this recipe and modified it just a teeny tiny bit. It yielded a 6 inch wide and 4 inch tall cake. Perfect for two people when one of them considers half a cake as a serving size.

I have not included the instructions for a chocolate collar here as I was not very successful with it. There are quite a few tutorials available online which could be useful if you want to attempt it.

This cake will pair well with any kind of filling and frosting. What I have described here is just one of the many combinations that you could try.
Ingredients
Cake

  • Salted butter – 1/4 cup (if using unsalted butter add 1/4 tsp salt to the dry ingredients)
  • Sugar – 3/4 cup
  • Egg whites – 2
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
  • All purpose flour – 1 cup
  • Corn flour – 2 tbsp
  • Baking powder – 1 and 1/2 tsp
  • Buttermilk – 1/2 cup

Custard Filling

Buttercream

  • Salted butter – 1/2 cup
  • Unsalted butter – 1/2 cup
  • Whipping cream or milk – 2 tbsp
  • Icing sugar – 4 cups (approx.)
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp

Method

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 170 degree Celsius
  • Grease and flour a 6 inch round cake tin
  • In a bowl, sift together flour, corn flour, baking powder and salt (if using) and set it aside
  • In another bowl, cream butter and sugar together till very pale and fluffy. This takes 5 to 7 minutes in my stand mixer
  • Add the egg whites one at a time to this mixture and beat well after each addition
  • Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined
  • Add the flour mixture and buttermilk to this creamed mixture alternately – beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat briefly after each addition just till it is combined
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Make sure it is not more than two thirds full
  • Bake until the top of the cake springs back when touched lightly and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out dry. This takes about 20 to 25 minutes depending on your oven
  • Rotate the tin once in between to ensure even heating. If you find that the top of the cake is turning too brown cover the top with aluminium foil and continue to bake
  • Once done, let the cake cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then carefully release it from the tin. Cover it in cling film and let it cool on a wire rack.

Buttercream

  • Beat both the butters in a large bowl until very pale and fluffy. This takes about 7 to 10 minutes
  • Add whipping cream or milk and beat again for a couple of minutes
  • Add the vanilla essence and beat until combined
  • Add the icing sugar one cup at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed
  • After the addition of 3 cups of icing sugar check the consistency and taste of the buttercream
  • If it’s runny then add more sugar. If it’s too stiff then add milk one tablespoon at a time.
  • Adjust the quantity of sugar and milk to suit your preferences

Assembly

  • Once the cake has cooled completely slice it carefully into two discs
  • Apply some buttercream to a cake board and place one disc on it
  • Pipe a buttercream dam using a round nozzle around the circumference of the cake to ensure that the custard doesn’t flow out when stacking and frosting the cake

 

  • Evenly spread the custard over the bottom layer and carefully stack the other half of the cake over the bottom layer
  • Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream

This cake tastes better the next day!