This delightful cake recipe I am sharing was passed onto me and fellow students by our chef Sebastian. We used Nashi pears for the recipe in class however, for this recipe I have used William pears. You can use other varieties such as Bosc, Packham, Asian, Comice, Red Bartlett or Conference as long as the pear’s flesh remains firm. The varieties mentioned may go by different names where you live. I am sure you will find a pear that will be perfect for this cake. The figs, pear and the caramelly flavour give this cake a sticky, soft and moist texture. A great dessert to serve at the end of a dinner or when one feels like a luscious, sticky piece of cake as a treat. In class the cake was served with a butterscotch sauce however, on this occasion I have made a reduction from the leftover poaching juices, reduced them and created a lovely sticky sauce to pour over the cream when serving.
250 grams dried figs
300 ml water
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
90 grams butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
250 grams S/R flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon (ground)
6 Pears peeled (medium size)
2 cups water
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 star anise
1 stick cinnamon
200 grams brown sugar
1/2 cup thickened cream
130 grams butter
2 tsps vanilla essence
Preparation Time: 30 minutes (Approximately)
Cooking Time: 40-50 minutes (Approximately)
Serves: 8-10 people (Approximately)
Preheat oven at 180°C for 15 minutes. Grease and line a 20cm round springform cake tin with baking paper.
Prepare the pears, peel and core. Put all the ingredients into a pot pears, water, honey, caster sugar, star anise, cinnamon stick and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, allow to gently simmer until the pears are tender. Remove the pears from the poaching liquid, place aside and cool.
Cut the figs, put in a pot with 300mls of water. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Allow the mixture to foam, set aside to cool a little.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, make sure they are fully incorporated. Finely dice 3 halves of the pears. Combine the pears, fig mixture (keeping half the juice), batter and sifted flour. Use the folding method to keep the mixture air-rated.
Combine the left over fig and poaching juice. Use this to brush the top of cake.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place the cake in the pre-heated oven at 180°C for 30-50 minutes. If the cake appears to be cooking too quickly, adjust the temperature to 160°C. Check the cake after 20 minutes to see if it is firming in the centre. When just firm enough, neatly arrange the pear slices on top of the cake. Brush the top with the remaining juice and continue baking. Repeat this a few times to get a lovely golden caramel colour on the pears. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning over. Any remaining pear slices or end pieces can be used to decorate when you serve the cake.
Over medium heat reduce the remainder of the fig and poaching juice until thick and sticky.
For the butterscotch sauce, combine brown sugar, thickened cream, butter and vanilla essence into a medium sized pot. Bring to the boil over medium heat, until well combined. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little before serving.
Do keep an eye on the cake to ensure it isn’t cooking too quickly.
Cooking time may need to be adjusted depending on your oven.
When turning the cake over, to remove the base and baking paper be gentle to ensure the pear slices on top of the cake remain in position.
On this occasion I cut the figs and pear pieces bigger rather than smaller. When slicing the cake they are visible which adds to the appearance when serving.
I used clotted cream rather than whipped cream.