Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Early November Teatime Treat - Spiced Pear Cake with Quark (Fresh Cheese) & Almonds


November is a good time to be baking away in the kitchen and a perfect time to enjoy ingredients of the season. Eat fresh chestnuts while you can, enjoy a wide range of root vegetables, cabbage and pumpkins and squashes. And make the most of the fruits of fall. One of autumn's many bounties, pears are endless in their uses. I like them in savory dishes such as quiches, or in salads, as part of a bruschetta topping, and in soups – then there are the sweet treats such as pear tarts and crumbles, poached pears, and many more. Pears are wonderful just plain, on their own, but they also pair particularly well with warm spices such as cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. And I love the combination of pears and ginger.




So this lovely no-fuss, mid-week, treat of a cake combines my favorite autumn fruit with my favorite warm spices and flavors – vanilla, ginger and a hint of cinnamon. Plus the addition of a bit of Quark (fresh cheese) adds just enough tang to balance out the sweetness of the fruit. While almonds add a nice final touch and their natural sweetness compliments this cake beautifully.




Spiced Pear Cake with Quark

Ingredients for the Cake Batter
  • 200 grams unsalted butter (room temperature), plus extra for greasing the baking pan
  • 200 grams superfine (caster) sugar
  • 8 grams vanilla sugar*
  • 3 eggs (M) organic or free range
  • 200 grams wheat (AP) flour
  • 10 grams baking powder
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon
  • 3 tbsps Quark (fresh cheese) or use Greek yogurt (room temperature

For the Pears
  • 3 pears (baking variety, fragrant and ripe but still a bit firm) 
  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp superfine (caster) sugar OR use regular sugar
For the Topping
  • slivered almonds
  • 1 tbsp superfine (caster) sugar

Preparation
  1. Lightly butter a retangular baking pan (33 cm x 22 cm or 13 x 9 inches), line the base and sides with baking parchment. Set aside.
  2. For the pears: peel, core, and halve the pears. Thinly slice each half lengthwise without cutting all the way through to the core side, leaving the halves hinged together. Carefully place the prepared pears in a glass bowl, add lemon juice and sugar to bowl and let the pear halves macerate while preparing the cake batter.
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 180 ° C (375°F).
  4. For the cake batter: mix, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla sugar together until pale, then gradually mix in eggs (one by one).
  5. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and cinnamon.
  6. Fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
  7. Gently fold the Quark into the cake batter, making sure not to overmix the batter.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, smooth the surface, then place the prepared pear halves on top of the batter.
  9. Top with slivered almonds and sugar.
  10. Bake for 50 to 55  minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Allow to cool in the baking pan.
  12. Dust lightly with confectioners sugar just before serving (optional).
* If vanilla sugar isn't available in your local grocery store, you can make your own. Split one or two vanilla beans to expose the seeds. Bury the split beans in a 2-cup canister of white sugar and seal it. Shake the canister daily for one week or longer if you prefer a stronger flavor. If you need vanilla sugar right away, you can scrape the seeds from a vanilla pod into a cup of white sugar. Pulse the sugar and vanilla in your food processor until they are combined. Let the mixture sit for two hours to infuse.




This Spiced Pear Cake with Quark makes a lovely teatime treat or even breakfast cake (after all there is fruit and Quark in there). Simply serve as is or perhaps with softly whipped cream.

This cake also works well with apples and just cinnamon and the cake keeps well, for a good day or two, wrapped in food wrap (clingfilm).

If you ask me, autumn baking truly is the best  – before all the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holiday season is upon us, it is always a good idea to get some easy, delicious baking done to enjoy all by yourself, with family and friends…and don`t forget to serve your favorite tea or coffee alongside.



12 comments:

  1. Andrea, what a gorgeous looking cake. I love these kind of Blechkuchen and can't wait to bake it. Alles Liebe Gerlinde

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    1. Liebe Gerlinde, thank you very much for dropping by! Certainly appreciate your kind comment! And I do agree with you - there is no such thing as having too many recipes for tray bakes in one´s repertoire!
      Ganz liebe Grüße auch an dich!!!
      Andrea

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  2. What a lovely dessert!))
    I've not talked w/ you, dear.
    Hope you are well. xx from MN.

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    1. Dear Kim, I took somewhat of a prolonged break from blogging - family, lack of inspiration, too many distractions... and so on and so forth. Things seem better for now and I am trying to be more "present" here on this blog of mine again...
      Thank you, my friend, for dropping by and commenting!
      Andrea

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  3. I'd try this lovely cake with pears first, then apples. It looks perfect for weekend company! xo

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    1. Thank you Liz for stopping by - this is a nice, moist, seasonal cake and I agree with you, it is great for weekend company! And wonderful either with apples or pears!

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  4. I love baking with pears and this lookd absolutely delicious Andrea.
    Sometimes is difficult for me blogging but I try to go on . My mom is sick and Im caring her but blogging sometimes help me in touch with my friends.
    I understand sometimes is difficult blogging. hugs <3

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    1. Dear Gloria, I do appreciate your kind words - there are just lots of things happening in my life and btw work, caring for family and many other commitments, I just lost my thread somehow...now I am trying to channel my energies into positive channels...;)
      Sending a big hug your way!
      Thank you for your kind comments!
      Andrea

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  5. Replies
    1. Thank you, Gloria! It feels good to be blogging again and although I might not overdo it this time around, I will make sure to blog again on a regular basis!

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  6. Replies
    1. And, yes, sometimes life just gets a little in the way of blogging and commenting...
      See you soon for comments!
      Andrea

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