Tag Archives: pear

Trifle of poached pear, mascarpone and pistachio

Recently I bought a tray of Corella pears and I thought I’d turn them into a trifle.  I made it first thing in the morning to serve that evening, but even better make it the night before.  You’ll serve a good crowd of a dozen or more with this. The pear brandy I used was the German Weis, which is available in most bottle shops. Any left over syrup can be stored in the fridge and drizzled over ice cream or other fruit.

Poached pears
700g caster sugar
Thinly peeled rind of 1 orange
Thinly peeled rind and juice of 1 large lemon
2 cinnamon quills
2 star anise
1 vanilla bean split and seeds scraped
100ml Vin Santo or other dessert wine
10 small Corella pears, peeled, cored and quartered
2 tablespoons pear brandy

Combine sugar, rinds, lemon juice, spices, vanilla and 1 litre of water in a large enough pot, stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add the pears, cut a round of baking paper to fit the pot, place over the pears and weigh down with a plate and gently simmer until pears are tender (25 minutes or so). Remove pears from pot and set aside in a bowl.

Strain cooking liquid from the pot into a heavy based saucepan and simmer on medium high heat for about 40-45 minutes. Turn off the heat, add Vin Santo, stir, then allow to cool. Once cool mixture will thicken and should be a golden caramel coloured syrup. Stir in the pear brandy.

Mascarpone cream
500g mascarpone
2 tablespoons sifted icing sugar
2 egg yolks
350ml thickened cream
4 tablespoons pear brandy

Using at electric mixer, beat the eggs, icing sugar, mascarpone and brandy until combined. Add the cream and beat until thickened, be careful not to over whip.

Other ingredients
Half a packet or so of savoiardi biscuits
180g of natural pistachio nuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped or whole as desired

You’re now ready to assemble

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Assembly
Place a layer of savoiardi on the bottom of your trifle dish.  At the bottom of the reserved bowl of pears there should be a little juice – drizzle a couple of tablespoons over the savoiardi. Then drizzle over some of the caramel syrup. Next add a layer of pears, drizzle over a little more syrup and then sprinkle over a third of the pistachios.

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Then a layer of half the cream. Then again a layer of savoiardi, pear juice from bowl, syrup, pears, syrup, pistachios, cream and sprinkle remaining pistachios on top. Cover tightly with cling wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Today’s cake – Amalfi Pear and Ricotta cake

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Pear and ricotta cake is something you will find in many of the bakeries and pasticcerie along the gorgeous Amalfi Coast.  It was first made famous by Sal di Riso (his bakery is in Minori) and over the last few decades there have been various versions.  Some make it with more of a ‘biscuit’, others with a sponge.  This version is based on a recipe by Katie Caldesi.

For the sponge
100g     hazelnut meal
50g       plain flour
100g     caster sugar
75g       unsalted butter soften at room temperature
4            egg whites
Icing sugar, for dusting

For the filling
3            pears, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
75ml     water
1 tsp     vanilla bean paste
125g     golden caster sugar*
250g     ricotta, drained
100g     double cream
1 tbsp   pear brandy (optional)

*golden caster sugar is an unrefined sugar you’ll find in specialty food stores. I also used it recently in an orange & semolina cake

Making it
1. To make the pears, cook the pears in the water, together with the vanilla and 75 g of the sugar in a saucepan until soft, for 15–20 minutes (depending on the ripeness of the pears). This is best done with a circle of baking parchment pressed down on the pears to trap in the steam. When the pears are done, strain them through a sieve resting over a bowl to collect the juices and set aside and allow to cool.

2. Meanwhile, grease two 19 cm round tins with butter and line the bottoms with baking paper. Pre-heat oven to 180C fan forced. Place the hazelnut, flour, caster sugar and butter in a bowl and beat until a sandy consistency. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then fold them into the nut mixture. Pour into the prepared tins and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto wire racks and removing baking paper

3. To make the filling, whisk together the remaining golden caster sugar, ricotta and cream in a bowl until smooth and thick. Add the pears and brandy and combine. Place one hazelnut sponge on a board and spoon the filling over. Lay the other sponge on top and push down so that the filling oozes out a little. Sift the icing sugar over the top and transfer to a serving dish or cake stand. Serve in slices with the syrup from the pears if desired

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Today’s cake – Pear and Hazelnut Cake

This recipe is by Frank Camorra of Movida – except I omitted the chocolate (there was 50g of dark chocolate as well), as I thought there was enough flavour to enjoy with the hazelnut and the pear. If you can’t buy blanched hazelnuts, this is how to do it. I blanched mine the day before making the cake to ensure they were nice and dry before grinding. This recipe is a keeper.

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Ingredients
100g blanched hazelnuts
140g self-raising flour
175g butter, cut into cubes
140g brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
3 semi-ripe packham pears
Icing sugar, for dusting

Making it
1. Preheat the oven to 140C for fan-forced (160C conventional). Butter and line the base of a 25 x 11-centimetre loaf cake tin with baking paper
2. Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until fairly fine. Add the flour and mix briefly. Add the butter and pulse until it forms crumbs
3. Transfer to a bowl, add the sugar and eggs and mix briefly with a wooden spoon (mixture will be quite thick). Peel, core and chop one-and-a-half pears into a small dice and stir the pears into the cake mixture
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Peel, core and slice the remaining pears and arrange on the top of the cake. Press down lightly and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or cold

Today’s cake – pear and ginger brown butter tarts

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When you read pastry recipes, there is a lot of ‘relaxing’ going on. Which is quite ironic really, because I don’t find myself relaxing – I’m usually huffing and puffing and thinking “this bloody pastry better work out”. So maybe I should take the cue from the recipe and chill a little. I read recently that Gwyneth Paltrow said we shouldn’t yell at water because we “might hurt its feelings” (really, Gwyneth?), so perhaps the pastry can sense my anxiety?

Following the pastry class I went to with Lorraine Godsmark, I decided I would try to make the pear tart with the sour cream pastry at home – that evening we only made the base pastry and not the fillings or toppings, so time to try it myself without The Master’s watchful eye.  In the class she described this pastry as “very forgiving” – and it is too – so it’s a really good one to tackle first up. It comes together nicely, doesn’t stick to the bench, lifts easily into the tin and you can bash it about a bit. Ta da!  And as Lorraine suggested, I filled my tin to the very brim.

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In terms of the pear filling – the method she gives isn’t very descriptive (no chef is ever going to give away all their secrets, are they?). For instance, the Buderim ginger comes in chunks, is it meant to be cooked with the pears then removed from the mixture (as it wouldn’t be great to bite into a whole piece), or chopped finely and left? I opted to remove the pieces after cooking. I also found that there was quite a lot of liquid after cooking so I strained the pears.  And the brown butter topping – which is so so delicious – I discovered runs as soon as it starts cooking.  I had heaped my pears into a little mound, which turned out to be not a good idea.  Make sure they are in a very flat layer, and perhaps a couple of millimetres below the top of the pastry case, so that when you pipe on the brown butter topping it can’t really go anywhere. Because it ran, my pears are sticking out a little at the top, whereas they should be completely covered.

Make the pastry and the brown butter topping the day before and the pears the day of cooking. The pastry was enough to make 1 large tart and 4 x 12cm tarts, but the pear compote quantity was just enough for 1 large tart, you’d probably need to double it to have enough for all the pastry.  This was seriously some of the best pastry I have ever had, and the brown butter topping is to die for.  Definitely worth perfecting, and will also try it with apple.

Cream Cheese Pastry (make the day before)
300g plain flour
Pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
170g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
130g cream cheese, cut into cubes about twice the size of the butter
30g ice water
30g apple cider vinegar

1. Place flour, salt and baking powder in a food processor, pulse for a couple of seconds to sift.
2. Add the cream cheese and pulse for 2-3 seconds
3. Add butter and pulse for further 2-3 seconds
4. Combine water and vinegar and add to mixture and pulse for a final couple of seconds.
5. Turn mixture out onto bench, and using the heel of your hand smear the dough (fresage) across the bench forming streaks of butter and cream cheese through the dough. Use a pastry cutter to bring the mixture back to you and smear another two times. It will be slightly marbled which is fine. (You can find some examples of how to fresage on youtube).
6. Press into a flat disc and allow the pastry to relax in the fridge overnight
7. Remove from fridge and roll out onto a surface 5mm thick. Fit into a flan tin and allow it to relax in the fridge for a further 2 hours

Brown butter topping (make the day before)
3 eggs
200g caster sugar
80g plain flour
185g unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean, split down the middle with a knife

1. Using an electric mixer, whisk eggs and sugar until thick and pale. Lower speed and mix in flour.
2. Meanwhile place butter in a small pot, add vanilla bean and heat over a medium-high heat until butter is brown and foamy. Continue until bubbles subside and colour turns dark golden and has a nutty aroma. Strain the butter through a sieve onto the egg mix whisking continuously until well combined. Refrigerate overnight

Pear and Ginger Compote (make the day of baking)
1kg pears
80g unsalted butter
40g sugar
100ml lemon juice
80g ginger in syrup
80g candied orange or marmalade

Peel, core and cut pears into 2cm cubes. Melt butter in a wide saute pan, add pears and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Add sugar and cook until pears are soft. Deglaze pan with lemon juice, add ginger and marmalade and allow to reduce for 5 minutes. Allow to cool and refrigerate until required.

Blind baking and assembly
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
2. Remove your prepared tart tin from the fridge and prick the pastry lightly with a fork
3. Spray a sheet of foil with canola oil spray and place it in the tin. Fill to the brim with baking beans or rice and bake for 20 minutes
4. Remove from oven and remove beans and foil. Lightly beat an egg and using a pastry brush lightly brush the pastry with the egg. Put back in the oven for a further 15-20 minutes until golden
5. Remove from oven, fill with pear, then pipe a thin layer of the burnt butter topping to cover the pear, and return to the oven for 45 minutes then lower the oven the 160 degrees for 15 minutes

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Today’s Cake – Semolina and Pear Cake

I’ve been making this little cake for years, and it always goes down well. You need nice ripe pears for this, so given that they are usually sold rock solid, you’ll need to buy them a few days in advance to give them time to ripen. Alternatively you could poach them.

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Ingredients
6 eggs, separated
1 cup caster sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. almond meal
2/3 cup fine semolina
Icing sugar, for dusting

Filling
200ml thickened cream
2 tbsp. pear puree
1 tbsp. icing sugar
2 ripe pears

Making it

1. Pre heat oven to 180 C. Grease a 19cm springform cake tin and line base and sides with baking paper.
2. In a bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff
3. In a separate bowl, whip yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Add lemon rind and lemon juice and whip for a few seconds
4. Fold in almond meal and lemon juice. Then fold in egg whites until well combined. Pour into prepared tin and bake for about 30 minutes or until skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. If the top starts to brown too much during baking cover with foil.
5. Remove from oven, leave in tin for 5 minutes then allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool use a serrated knife to slice in half.
6. To make the filling, in a bowl whip the cream and icing sugar until firm. Fold in the pear puree.
7. Peel, core and slice the two pears into half cm slices. Layer the slices on the bottom half of the cake, top with cream, then the top half of the cake. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

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Today’s Cake – Maple Pear and Pecan Cake

Delicious little cakes.  Makes 16.

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Ingredients
175g butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, extra
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup grated pear
16 pecan halves, to decorate

Making it
1. Preheat oven to 160C. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy.

2. Add the vanilla bean paste, eggs and extra yolk and beat well to combine. Add flour, baking powder and maple syrup and beat until just combined.

3. Fold through the pecans and pear.

4. Spoon into baking cups and top cakes with a pecan half. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.