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Recipe: Easy pear cake

We are very happy to introduce Gabby Trifiletti of @gabbyandthefourseasons as our guest food blogger. We have known Gabby as a friend for many years and have always admired her connection to food, family and joy. She cooks on the daily for her loved ones in the family kitchen and uses the best, seasonal produce she can get her oven mitts on. Her food is unpretentious, straightforward and her foodie goal is that through a light touch the fresh produce is given the chance to shine. A favourite hashtag of hers is #quickandlovely

When we launched our online home delivery last year Gabby was our very first customer and has continued with the service ever since, often sending us tantalising pictures of what she has conjured up with the bounty. It always looks delicious and nurturing so we asked if she would be up for a guest blogging spot. She came back to us with a resounding YES. Our plan is to spend some days together with Gabby in her kitchen cooking up a storm and then present a seasonal series for our customers. First up is this easy pear cake which to be honest can be substituted with any seasonal fruit. Get your home cooking juices flowing folks. And over to Gabby...

"Well, the winter is really setting in now, and this time of year calls for coming in from the cold and cosying up with a gorgeous, warm cake and a lovely cuppa.

So here’s a really quick and easy pear cake  - it’s mixed in a bowl, with a wooden spoon. No mixer. Super-moist and no icing required. Great to get little kids helping in the kitchen, and perfect for teaching bigger kids to make it for you! You can also substitute apples, or in summer, stone fruit. I’ve made it with fresh peaches, apricots, plums, pineapple. Or in winter, and, really, whenever the fresh fruit bowl looks a bit bare, you can always substitute 1 cup of frozen berries of your choice. (If you’re noodling around the aisles at the Rhubarb Rhubarb store, you’ll find a range of frozen blueberries, raspberries and mixed berries.)

It’s lovely as a dessert, served warm with cream, or ice cream, crème fraiche or yoghurt. Great in kids’ lunchboxes. The cake keeps well in an airtight container, but it never lasts that long at our house.

This recipe originally appeared in Australian Good Taste Magazine, back in April, 1998, and it’s from the brilliant Lyndey Milan. Check out Lyndey’s great recipes, books and tv projects at www.lyndeymilan.com
I used to make it with little Emma (now 25) standing up on a kitchen chair to reach the bench, and ‘helping’ me (I’ll just say that young and old folks find it’s a very delicious raw mixture.) 

In the years since, I’ve adapted this recipe as our tastes have changed: I’m gradually reducing the amount of sugar in this, and most cake recipes, and nobody seems to mind. Start by reducing sugar by 20 per cent, and see what you think. I also think we’re less inclined to peel all fruit – for cakes or eating. I’ll leave that up to you. I think pears are fine with skins left on – so much nutrition in there – but it does depend on the variety of pear you have to hand, and how thick or tough the skin is, too. 

I also add cinnamon (or ginger or nutmeg) to the cake mix, and some vanilla extract, and sprinkle some Demerara sugar on top before baking. If you like a glossy finish to your cake, you can make a simple glaze to brush over the warm cake: just heat up 2 or 3 tablespoons of apricot jam in a pot or the microwave, and brush over the cake. 

It’s a very forgiving recipe: I’ve made it with raw sugar, white sugar or caster sugar instead of brown sugar, and wholemeal SR flour or spelt flour instead of white. And mixtures of all of the above when the larder is a bit bare. The cake is so moist and dense that it’s very open to whatever your pantry and fruit bowl have to offer (as long as you stick to the proportions of each ingredient in the recipe.) You can jazz it up by adding dried fruit (I like currants), nuts (chopped almonds, walnuts or macadamias are nice) or chopped up chocolate. But really, it’s delicious just as it is. I’ve always used butter, but I reckon Nuttelex, coconut oil or other vegetable oil would work, too. You can make it as one round cake, or in paper muffin cases (easy for lunchboxes, or a party), or an oblong traybake if that’s what you have handy.

Just as I have, I hope you’ll adapt and make this cake your own. We’d love to hear how you go."

- Gabby Trifiletti, July 2021

 

EASY PEAR CAKE RECIPE

Makes: 12-14 slices (or 12 muffins, if you prefer)

Prep: 15-20 mins.

Cooking: About 60 mins.

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Ingredients: 

  • Melted butter, or olive oil or cooking spray to grease pan.
  • 300 g (2 cups) self-raising flour (OR plain flour with 2 teaspoons of Baking Powder per cup of flour)
  • 200g (1 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon (or nutmeg or ginger, if you prefer)
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 g butter, melted + cooled (about 2/3 cup) 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or essence
  • 4 ripe pears

Optional Ingredients:

  • Demerara sugar, to sprinkle on top
  • Yoghurt, thick cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve 
  • 2-3 tablespoons apricot jam, warmed, to brush over cooked cake.

Method: 

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius (fan-forced.) Grease a 23 cm spring form pan with melted butter (or oil or spray.) Line the base with greaseproof paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl place: flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. 
  3. Lightly whisk the eggs in a small bowl, add melted butter and vanilla. Set aside. 
  4. Peel, core and chop two of the pears. Add egg mixture and the chopped pears to the dry ingredients. Stir together until just combined. Spoon into prepared cake pan. 
  5. Peel the remaining pears and cut into quarters. Remove the core, and cut each quarter lengthways into 3 slices. Arrange the pear slices in a spiral pattern on the top of the cake mixture. Sprinkle with demerara, if using. 
  6. Bake in preheated oven for an hour or until a skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and stand cake in the pan for 5-10 mins before removing the sides of the pan and placing the cake on a wire rack. 
  7. If you’re in the mood, glaze with warmed apricot jam. Serve warm or cold with yoghurt or thick cream. Enjoy! 

Photography by Emma Byrnes

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