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Brown sugar sponge cake with caramelised pears

April 24, 2012 No Comments

I made this cake (as you do) for my birthday a couple of years ago. WOW how amazing it was.

Here I am with Lisa Featherby – Australian Gourmet Traveller Food Editor

Since seeing this cake in the August 2010 addition of the Australian Gourmet Traveller (my favourite food magazine) I had been lusting over it but at the time did not even own a Kitchen Aid which prompted me to write this post My unrequited love. I was quick to resolve this and asked for a Kitchen Aid for my birthday and I quickly went to work and as a result made this cake the very month the recipe was published. Yes it’s true, it looks pretty impressive but does its visual impact match its taste impact? Yes, yes it does! My mother and husband both looked at it and thought it was going to be a sweet, over creamed cake with little taste but they soon changed their minds once they tasted it. It just has the most beautiful taste. The sponge was light yet did not lake depth, I particularly love the use of the crème fraîche rather than just straight cream and the caramelised pears you could not get enough of. The combination of the of the 3 components worked so well together. I highly recommend this scrumptious and impressive cake.

Putting the cake together.


For sponge:

  • 12 eggs, at room temperature
  • 160g brown sugar
  •  160g caster sugar
  • Scraped seeds of 2 vanilla beans
  • 300g plain flour, triple sieved
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 120gm butter, melted and cooled
  • 700gm crème fraîche
  • 100g pouring cream
  • 30g pure icing sugar, sieved, plus extra for dusting

For Caramel Pears:

  • 750g caster sugar
  • Juice and thinly peeled rind of 1½ lemons and 1½ oranges
  • 2 each cinnamon quills and star anise
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and sees scraped
  • 10 small ripe corella pears, peeled, halved, cores removed with a melon baller
  • 120ml dessert wine
  • 90ml pouring cream
  • 30g butter, coarsely chopped

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Whisk eggs, sugars and half the vanilla seeds on high speed in an electric mixer until mixture is tripled in volume and holds a trail (10-12 minutes). Transfer to a large bowl, sift over flour and baking powder in two batches, gently fold to combine, then fold in butter. Divide among 4 buttered and floured 20cm-diameter cake tins lined with baking paper on the bases and bake, swapping tins halfway through cooking (see note), until cakes are dark golden and centres spring back when gently pressed (15-20 minutes). Cool slightly in tins, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.

2. Meanwhile, for caramel pears, combine sugar, rinds, juices, spices, vanilla bean and seeds and 1 litre water in a large saucepan, stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Add pears, cover closely with a round of baking paper, weight with a plate and bring to the simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until just tender (20-25 minutes). Remove pears from liquid (set aside), then strain cooking liquid into a large deep-sided frying pan and simmer over medium-high heat until mixture turns caramel (25-35 minutes). Add dessert wine, cream and butter (be careful as hot caramel may spit), then stir until combined. Add pears to pan and cook, spooning caramel over pears until glazed (2-3 minutes), then set aside.

3. Whisk crème fraîche, cream, icing sugar and remaining vanilla seeds in a bowl until firm peaks form (2-3 minutes). Refrigerate until required.

4. To serve, place one cake on a serving plate, spread with a third of the crème fraîche mixture. Repeat with remaining cakes and crème fraîche mixture, finishing with a cake. Dust with icing sugar and serve with caramel pears and syrup.

This recipe is from the August 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

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