March 19, 2014

PEAR AND GINGER UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

pear and ginger upside down cake Right in the middle of packing I started having withdrawal symptoms.  My resistance failed me and I was overcome by the need to bake something.  I always knew it was too good to last!

I had been disappointed that my self-imposed abstinence from all things cake meant that I couldn’t take part in one of my favourite monthly baking challenges, Alphabakes.  I haven’t entered every month by any means, far from it, but I have done some of the tricky letters, such as Z and I.  This was going to be the final letter, U, and I already had a recipe earmarked for it.  An upside down cake.

Then we sold the house in record time and panic set in.  So much packing to do, so little time!  Baking would have to be put on the back burner for quite a while.

pear and ginger upside down cake2 pear and ginger upside down cake3

I was looking at some uneaten pears in the fruit bowl and the idea for a pear upside down cake came to me.  I had also unearthed a jar of ginger preserve during my clearing out of a kitchen cupboard.  Perfect for sandwiching the two cakes together!

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I used the recipe I intended to use in the first place, which is on the Good Food website and you can see it here.

I simply swapped the peaches for sliced pears and added a little ginger.

pear and ginger upside down cake5 The cake turned out spectacularly well, considering it’s such an easy recipe, essentially and all-in-one sponge cake with some fruit in the bottom of one tin.

The sponge was light and moist with just a hint of ginger, the pears beautifully caramelised and the ginger jam and cream set it off perfectly.  I would definitely make it again.

The fact that it was so quick to make, makes me feel a lot less guilty about taking the time to make it when I should be packing or sorting yet another drawer or cupboard!

alphabakes Alphabakes is a monthly baking challenge organised by Caroline of Caroline Makes and, this time, by Ros of The more than the occasional baker.  You can see the details here.

Ingredients

For the cake

200g softened butter, or spreadable butter

200g self raising flour

1tsp baking powder

1tsp ground ginger

200g golden caster sugar

4 eggs

2tblsp milk

For the topping

3 ripe pears

75g light soft brown sugar

For the filling

2tblsp ginger preserve

125ml double cream

1tblsp icing sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4.  Grease two 20cm sandwich tins, line the bases with baking paper and grease again.

Sift the flour, baking powder and ginger into a large bowl.  Add all the other cake ingredients and whisk with an electric hand whisk (or use a food mixer) until fully combined and smooth.

Sprinkle the soft brown sugar evenly over the bottom of one of the tins.

Peel the pears, halve them, remove the cores (using a melon baller) and slice each half into three wedges.  Arrange the pear slices on top of the brown sugar.

Divide the cake mixture evenly between the two tins, being careful not to disturb the pear slices and remembering that the tin with the fruit on the bottom will inevitably look fuller.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cakes are done.  The one with the pears on the bottom will take about five minutes longer than the other.

Allow to cool in the tins for a few minutes then turn out carefully onto a wire rack.

Whisk the double cream with the icing sugar until spreadable.  When the cakes are cold, spread the preserve on the bare cake half.  (Warm it slightly in a small pan if necessary to make it runny enough to spread.)

Spread a thick layer of whipped cream on top, remembering to let the jam cool completely first.  Put the fruited cake on top of that.

Cuts into 6-8 slices.

March 14, 2014

NOT EDIBLE AFTER ALL

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I was horrified and angry to read that this cake glitter is not edible at all, but made from shredded plastic and powdered brass.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2580168/Businesswoman-sold-edible-cupcake-glitter-shredded-plastic-powdered-brass-insisted-safe-despite-repeated-warnings.html

I got mine from a local specialist cake decorating shop where they stocked about twenty different colours.  It’s now in the dustbin.

I remember being sceptical when I first bought it but felt that it probably wouldn’t be on sale at all if it was harmful or not edible.  Not in this day and age.

I should know by now to trust my instincts.

March 10, 2014

LEMON DRIZZLE BIRTHDAY BUNDT CAKE

birthday bundt This is the last cake I will be baking for a while.  The house is sold so all my baking stuff will be packed up ready to be stored or moved before long.

I was pleased to be  making this cake, a birthday cake for my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday.  Her favourite cakes are lemon or fruit cake so I decided to go for a rather special lemon drizzle cake.

birthday bundt2

I used my new Bundt tin, the one that Nick gave me for Christmas, coated it well inside with cake release spray, and the cake slid out perfectly.  That was a relief!  After the previous disaster (here) I can safely say that the tin was not the culprit on that occasion.  I must remember not to put fudge into a Bundt cake again !!

birthday bundt3

I’m not into fancy icing so I decorated the cake with some pretty number candles and pink roses.  I used a small shot glass to act as a vase which I pushed into the hole in the middle of the cake.  I lengthened the stems of the candles by attaching them to wooden kebab sticks with sellotape so that they would stand up at the right height in the vase.

The recipe comes from the blog Delicious, Delicious, Delicious, which you can see here.  It worked perfectly, although I didn’t prick the cake to make holes for the drizzle to soak in as I didn’t want to spoil the lines of the cake.  I just kept pouring the syrup over, recollecting it as it ran off by putting the cake on a cooling rack over a dinner plate.  That resulted in a nice coating of sugar and some of it definitely soaked in through the crust.  To finish the cake I added a light sprinkling of edible glitter.

birthday bundt4

It looked very pretty in the centre of the table for my mother-in-law’s birthday tea.  The flavour was good and everybody enjoyed it.

So that’s it for a while.  I have no idea where my next post will come from, but I’ll be back as soon as we’re settled somewhere !!

Tea_Time_Treatrs_logoIn the meantime I am entering this cake into this month’s Teatime Treats, hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage and this month by Jane of the Hedge Combers.  The theme for March is “Decorative Cakes” and you can see the details here.

March 6, 2014

A BIG SURPRISE

Incredible as it seems, we appear to have sold the house only two days after it went on the market!

I was certainly hoping for a quick sale, to get it over with before I lost my nerve, but I did expect it to take a few months, not just a few days!

Of course it could all go horribly wrong if our buyer drops out for some reason so I'm not counting my chickens just yet.  However with all the sorting and packing to do there will not be too much time for baking in this house for a while so the blog may go quiet and not be updated quite so regularly until we’re more settled – and I can wrestle my baking tins back out of their packing cases !!

I shall be keeping up with my blog reading though – I have to have something to do at 5.30 in the morning when I’m wide awake and can’t seem to get back to sleep !!