Friday, 3 May 2013

Recipe - Gingerbread Guinness cake with poached pears and cream cheese icing

I've been going through my many, many half-finished drafts lately and found a few I really wanted to get finished, this is one of them which I promised way back after the last baking club meeting - East Meets West.  I thought it might be a good one for a Friday post - I might make it again this weekend!  (Obviously when I wrote this I forgot I'm away in Manchester and won't be baking anything this weekend!)

So I mentioned that I made this cake from my new book, Tea with Bea which I first heard about from Anna K at Any Other Woman and added to my wishlist.  The lovely Roz bought it for me for Christmas after we enjoyed a Bea's of Bloomsbury afternoon tea in London together and wrote me a lovely note inside.

The heffalump was just holding the page open for me :)

As the theme for this cake club was 'Showstoppers', I immediately flicked to the 'Special Cakes' chapter to decide what to make.  This one jumped out at me, not least because I am a sucker for cream cheese icing and have had some success with Guinness cakes before.

It was a pretty expensive cake to make as it had a lot of ingredients, including a bottle of wine for poaching the pears (of which I discovered I only needed half after I made them!) but I think the end result was worth it.  The way it's written in the book is a bit of a fuddle as it uses portions from different recipes so I had to keep flicking back and forth so I'm writing it out here as much for me to have on one page as to share the recipe.  It has quite a long title so I prefer to call it "The amazing pear & cream cheese Guinness cake" which is admittedly still quite long but I feel the cream cheese, pears and Guinness can't be ignored!


Pears: (I would half this quantity as you only need 3-4 pears for this cake)
1 bottle of Syrah or Merlot wine
700ml water
700g caster sugar
grated zest of 1 orange
1 star anise
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways
2 cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
4 cardamom pods, crushed
2cm fresh ginger, peeled
8 firm pears, e.g. Bosc or Williams

Cake: 250ml Guinness
250g black treacle/molasses
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
280g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 eggs
100g caster sugar
100g dark brown soft sugar
1 tbsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
200ml sunflower oil

Icing: 180g unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
800g cream cheese
2 tsp vanilla extract

chopped crystallised ginger (to decorate)
1/2 small jar of apricot jam (I used ginger preserve instead)

To make the poached pears, put everything except the pears into a large saucepan.  Cook over a medium heat until reaching a nice simmer and all the sugar has dissolved.

Peel the pears and add them, whole, to the poaching liquid and cover with a round of parchment paper.  Place a plate on top of the paper to act as a weight, as pears like to float.  Let simmer for 30 mins over a low heat.

When cooked, remove the pears from the poaching liquid (reserve the liquid as it can be used to make a syrup for another recipe - just reduce over a med-low heat until it has reduced to a syrup consistency) and let cool.  Cut 4 pears into quarters and remove the core and stems.  Slice the quarters into thin wedges.

Preheat the oven to 160oC (gas mark 4).  Put the Guinness and treacle into a tall saucepan (the next step causes the mixture to bubble up violently and potentially overflow, so choose a very tall pan) and bring to the boil over a high heat.  Remove from the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda.  Let stand until completely cool.

Put the flour, baking powder and ground spices in a bowl and stir until well combined.  In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, both sugars and the grated fresh ginger.  Gradually add the oil.  Add the stout syrup and stir thoroughly.  Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into a 25cm cake tin and bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes until it feels springy to the touch.  Remove from the tin and let cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the cream cheese icing.  Using an electric mixer with paddle or beater attachment (or an electric whisk), beat the butter, sugar and golden syrup until the mixture is lightened in colour and fluffy in texture.  Add the cream cheese and vanilla extract and beat well.

When the cake has cooled, cut horizontally into 3 equal layers.  (This was easier than I'd expected, although the sides were a bit fragile as they split a bit when I removed the spring-form tin.)

Put one layer on a cake stand or plate.  Spread a thick layer of cream cheese icing over the cake in generous dollops.  Arrange some of the wedges of poached pear over the top of the icing.  Repeat this with the second layer of the cake on top of the first layer.  Top with the last layer of cake.

Arrange more wedges of poached pear artfully on top of the cake.

Warm the apricot (or ginger) jam in a small saucepan over gentle heat and strain.  Pour it over the pears on top of the cake.  Decorate with chunks of crystallised ginger.  Mine didn't quite look like the picture but I was pretty pleased with it.

The most difficult part was getting the pears to stay on top (once the jam was on it helped stick them together) and then actually transporting such a large cake all the way to Edinburgh!  Even my massive new cake box wasn't tall enough so I had to balance the lid on a tea towel round the outside so it wouldn't get squished!  Luckily Sarah was driving so I managed to hold it all the way and it survived pretty much intact.  I transferred it over to my cake stand using cling film which I had positioned under the cake before I built it with perforations in the middle so I could lift one half, slide that section of film out and then the other side to get the rest out.  Phew!

It was pretty messy to eat but SO worth it.  It was delicious!!


Lara said...

That looks AMAZING. Hard work, but amazing! :)

thankfifi said...

bring a piece to me right now

thanks so much for your sweet comment on my post.x

Jen said...

Yours looks better than the picture in the book! Jen x

Unknown said...

It looks just lovely. I really do need to go to Bea's one time rather than go past it!

Andrea Marie said...

It looks delicious, even if I've not a huge fan of pears. I have the exact same stone elephant as you- mine is from Sri Lanka- is yours?

Bex said...

It is Andrea Marie! We've been (in 2010) but this was actually brought back as a gift from my in-laws when they went last year!

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