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Ta da! Finally… A day late in posting – June’s Daring Baker challenge to make a Danish Braid. And what a delicious challenge it was 🙂
My tiny recipe tweaks included:
– nearly an extra cup of flour to get the dough to a kneadable consistency
– using a pear and raisin filling instead of apple
It worked beautifully – I was happy with my results as a first-timer on this sort of pastry. I particularly liked the the feel of the dough under my hands, gradually getting softer and more velvety-gorgeous as it absorbed the butter with each ‘turn and roll’. A very therapeutic activity for a Sunday afternoon.
Tastewise, it was a big hit as well (to take these photos, I had to fend off Mr B. before he chomped the lot). Not at all yeasty, which was something I was slightly worried about at the beginning of this challenge. The only thing that I wish I’d done differently was keep a better eye on the oven, as the braid came out a lot darker that I would have liked – and that’s hardly the recipe’s fault! A year after getting our oven and I still forget that it gets super-hot…
This month’s challenge definitely pushed me outside my shortcrust comfort zone and I’d like to try more variations on this recipe – if I can get myself organised, that is! In fact, at the excellent suggestion of Rachel, I’ve stashed the other half of the dough in the freezer for croissants next weekend. And Lorrie made cinnamon rolls with her leftovers… Oooh – it’s all very tempting!
Thanks to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cooking? for a memorable challenge! For the full recipe, plus handy ‘as you go’ photos, here’s Kelly’s excellent post. Now, check out the rest of the DB gang on the blogroll. It never ceases to amaze me how we can all make the one recipe with such different and wonderful results 🙂
My ever-loving husband brought back some pears from the shop the other day and the first thing that popped into my head wasn’t, ‘Awwwwwww! He cares deeply about my well-being and remembered my recent comment about wanting to get more fresh fruit/veg into my day because, no matter how hard I wish, chocolate isn’t a nutritional equivalent and the crap-filled snack machine at work is not my friend (pause to draw breath…) – it’s the little things like this that make me love him more…’
It was more along the lines of, ‘Fan-bloody-tastic! My boy’s a mindreader! Now I can make that cinnamon pear cake with vanilla fudge sauce that I’ve had filed away since the dawn of time and was wistfully dreaming about the other day. Hurray!’
Then I had to go back to the shops and get the rest of the ingredients but, hey, it was the spur I needed to try out this recipe.
And oooooooh – it’s a keeper! I think I’m going to start up a Hall of Fame for Outstanding Cakes and make Nigel Slater the first inductee/honorary president for life. What more could you want than a softly-crumbed, almost pudding-like cake, stuffed with cinnmon-infused pears and, the killer move, a sexy vanilla fudge sauce to top the lot off? Oh. My. Word. This cake is the business and then some. Time for another slice, methinks…
Cinnamon pear cake with vanilla fudge sauce by Nigel Slater, from Sainsbury’s Magazine.
For the pear mixture:
740g ripe pears (I used Conference pears)
3 tablespoons unrefined light muscovado sugar
1/2 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the cake:
200g unrefined golden caster sugar
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
For the vanilla fudge sauce:
95g unrefined light muscovado sugar
95g golden syrup
142 ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
And… 24cm/9½-inch loose-bottomed (springform) cake tin, lightly buttered and lined with greaseproof paper.
1. Peel the pears and core them. Cut them into chunks and drop them into a bowl of cold water, acidulated with a few good squeezes of the lemon, which will stop them going brown.
2. Melt the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a shallow pan over a moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Drain the pears and add them to the pan, taking care that they don’t spit at you. Let the pears cook until they are tender and the sauce is thick and coats the pears. Stop before the sugar turns dark and bitter. Set aside to cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3. To make the cake, put the sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Add the eggs and a little of the flour alternately, so that the mixture doesn’t curdle. Fold in the remaining flour and then the cooked pears with their syrup.
4. Scoop the mixture into the tin and smooth lightly. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until risen and golden, then check with a metal skewer (it should come out clean).
5. Remove the cale from the oven and leave to cook before lifting out of the cake tin.
6. To make the sauce, put the sugar, syrup and butter in a small, heavy-based pan and bring to the boil, stirring only enough to stop it sticking. Stir in the cream and the vanilla extract and cream (watch out, the mixture can foam a bit at this point), and leave to cool. The sauce will thicken.
7. Sprinkle some extra muscovado over the cake and serve with icecream and fudge sauce.
All that fruit can make things a bit soggy – I found it took an extra 20 minutes in my oven to make sure this was cooked in the centre.
Just the sheer number of cinnamon-spiked dishes I’ve posted on this blog probably speaks volumes about how much I love this spice. I will happily make any recipe in which it is the main star or I will sneak in a little extra if it’s only meant to have a supporting role. In short, I am a cinnamon fiend.
Now, I’ve got to admit, this was a leetle bit of a selfish choice on my part – Mr. B likes cinnamon, he thinks it’s, you know, ok and all that. But it’s not his favourite. So back I went to Kieran’s recipe list to search for something that would preserve marital peace and harmony. And there it was – hot fudge sauce. Mr. B likes to consider himself something of an afficianado when it comes to icecream extras – he has his own special recipe for chocolate sauce, along with the sweetest tooth of anyone I know, so Kieran’s recipe would be judged against stringent standards.
The icecream turned out like a dream, as the warm spice of the cinnamon partnered well with the creamy custard base – a real taste of Christmas (you know, when you’re still far enough away from Christmas that it still seems exciting). And I have confirmation of that from people who aren’t as enamoured of cinnamon as I am – we polished the whole lot off for dessert one evening when we had friends round for dinner, along with this scrumptious apple tart from Smitten Kitchen. Unfortunately, there is no picture of this happy event as I’m still a bit shy about taking food pictures when other people are around. I’ve got to get over that.
But did the hot fudge sauce meet Mr B’s exacting expectations?
And how. He was seriously considering drinking the lot straight from the jug at one point. I think I mentioned that he has a seriously sweet tooth 🙂 In the end, he showed admirable restraint by simply drowning his icecream in the molten, fudgy gorgeousness.
I’d love to tell you that I’ve deliberately shot a soft-focus pic here but the truth is I think I screwed up my camera the other day when I leaned in to closely to snap some soup and a bit of steam got into the lens. Now everything looks like I’m applying for a job with the M&S advertising team. For mouthwatering pics of icecream, hot fudge sauce and many other wonderful things (along with the recipes, of course) I’d recommend a trip to Icecream Ireland.
Good luck with the book, Kieran. It’s certainly been fun testing the recipes!