Sunday, 16 March 2008

Pear and almond cake with almond crunch topping

I adore pear in any cake or dessert – far more than I like eating pears as a piece of fruit. It’s the combination of the delicate flavour and the juicy texture. This cake contains a layer of pear which combines beautifully with the rich almond cake surrounding it.

The unusual part of this cake is the crunch topping. As it is baked in the oven I expected it to be a bit gungey but it isn’t at all – it’s not as hard as a brittle but the nut content gives it a pleasing crunch. It’s a halfway house between caramel and praline – and how could that ever disappoint?

Here's a close up of the seriously-delicious topping:

I think this cake looks beautiful and everyone’s instinct on seeing it is to try and pick a bit of the topping off!

My tip when making this is only peel and slice the pears when you are ready to lay them on the cake batter; this will stop any discolouration.

Serving suggestion (how pretty do the pieces of pear set into the cake look?):

For the cake:
175g unsalted butter, softened
150g golden caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
220g self raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
140ml soured cream
50g ground almonds
2 firm pears (I used comice)

For the almond crunch topping:
50g unsalted butter
50g light muscovado sugar
2 tablespoons double cream
75g flaked almonds

To serve: Lightly whipped cream, I used Chantilly cream

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- Grease a 20cm springform tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.
- Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until they are pale and fluffy. Don’t skimp on this stage – give the mixture a good beating.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time and add a spoonful of the flour with the second egg to minimise curdling.
- In a separate bowl combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and nutmeg.
- Fold half of the flour into the creamed mixture.
- Fold in all the soured cream and almonds, then the rest of the flour.
- Peel, core and slice the pears – don’t do this too early or they will discolour.
- Spoon half the cake mix into the tin and arrange the pears on top.
- Cover with the remaining cake mix.
- Bake for 40 minutes.
- When there is only about 5 minutes left on the clock, start making the almond crunch topping. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the sugar and cream.
- Stir in the flaked almonds and ensure that they all get covered in the sticky sauce.
- Remove the cake from the oven and pour the almond mixture over the top, be gentle as you spread it out as the cake is fragile at this point.
- I recommend standing the cake tin on a baking sheet when you return it to the oven in case some nuts and sauce dribble over the edge of the tin.
- Bake for a further 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean (barring a bit of sauce from the top). Mine took 40 minutes + 25 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack. You have a few minutes to scoop up any flaked almonds that have fallen from the cake and place them back on top – they will stick at this point because the sauce has not fully set. I also recommend just gently using a knife to ensure that no topping is stuck to the end of the tin; this will ensure that when you unclip the tin, you won’t rip any topping off.
- Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the tin before removing from the tin and leaving to cool fully.
- Serve with lightly whipped cream – I picked Chantilly cream.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.


glamah16 said...

That cake is heavenly. Question? Are these your creations or do you get influence from others. I so want a peice.

dabrah said...

That looks so scrumptious. I agree with you about the delicate taste of pears when you're baking, but I like them fresh if they're very very ripe too.

OKPants said...

CC, i made your lovely Almond Cake yesterday mmmnnnn sigh. Now i see there is yet another cake of yours that i must make without delay! keep up the great crusading work!

Ling's Passion said...

This cake looks yummylicious....

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Glamah!

Alas I cannot take the credit for these recipes - mostly they are from books or magazines. I do usually tend to adapt them in slight ways - for example I never add lemon juice or peel (I'm prejudiced - I know) and I usually leave out any salt and colourings.

I am an avid "tearer out" of recipes and, by the time I make them have usually forgotten where they came from!

Rosie said...

This is a dream of a cake and with a crunch topping this sounds a pefect dessert cake too mmmm...

Wonderful bake and great pics

Rosie x