lunes, 2 de mayo de 2011

Pears and a Royal wedding

Yes, I went to Hyde Park, and yes I witnessed live the Royal wedding. I wanted to see the atmosphere for myself, since this was such an important event in the history of this country. People responded massively. Thousands gathered in the streets, I have never seen so many Union Jacks in my life. The idea was to go to the Mall and see THEM passing by, but apparently everybody had the same idea, and we had to to go Hyde Park if we didn't want to miss a thing, and so we did. Giant screens let us follow every step of the day, the hats, the protocol, the punctuality, everything was as planned. Then everybody sang "God save the queen" and I felt glad that I was among so many people sharing that moment, it was nice...After that, a general toast for the newly weds, the kids playing around, people lying on the grass eating and drinking, and everybody had a smile on their faces.

And speaking f eating, can someone fall in love with a fruit? I think I can say that it is possible. Sounds a bit weird but to be honest, since I have (re) discover the pears, my opinion about them has changed dramatically. Sweet and delicate and so versatile. You can use them for all kinds of dishes, sweet and savoury. Wonderful in salads, even more in desserts. Pears Belle Helene, wine poached pears, pear tatin, pear compote, pear tart, pear cake...A complete delicacy. And when I say (re) discover is because before that, only ate pears the traditional way, on its own, then I started adding it in my salads and experimenting here and there and I fell in love...
In this occasion, here's a wonderful pear cake with vanilla and almonds, sweetened with pieces of dark chocolate, an ideal combination of flavours for the most demanding palates. Perfect for a wedding reception...

"The more I know you the more I love you" pear cake

7 pears
2 1/2 cups water
1 strip lemon rind
385 g sugar
1 vanilla bean
125 g softened butter
3 eggs
160g sour cream
100g plain flour
100g self raising flour
40 g blanched almonds, toasted, chopped coarsely
40g dark chocolate chopped coarsely
60g ground almonds


Peel pears, leaving stems intact. Combine the water, rind and one cup of the sugar in medium saucepan. Split vanilla bean in half length ways, scrape seeds into saucepan then place pears in saucepan. Stir over heat without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Add pears, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, covered, about 30 minutes or until pears are just tender. Transfer pears to medium bowl, bring syrup to a boil, uncovered, until syrup reduces to a half. Cool completely.

Preheat oven to moderately slow. Grease a 23cm round tin.

Beat butter and remaining sugar in medium bowl, with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined between additions. Add sour cream, beat until just combined. Mixture may curdle and this stage but it will come together later. Stir in 2 tablespoon of the syrup, then flours, nuts, chocolate and ground almonds.
Spread cake mixture into prepared tin. place pears upright around edge of tin, gently pushing to the bottom. Bake uncovered in moderately slow oven, about 1 hour 35 minutes. Stan 10 minutes, remove from tin.
Serve cake warm, brushed with remaining syrup.