Are you surprised to see another blog post so quickly? I know I am. I wasn’t expecting to do two posts this week, especially since I didn’t do any bakes last week. However, this week I also received a bakebook by Duchess Bake Shop, the book that I already decided would be my second blogging bakebook. The annoying thing is I still have to finish this bakebook. And I have 61 recipes to go, which is going to take forever.
Hence two in one week.
Also I haven’t shared a bake with people at work in a couple weeks and I feel a little bad about that. Not that I should feel bad. But I do. Because I’m Canadian.
Since I’ve decided I’m now going in order of categories because they’re all evened out, I had to pick something from puddings and desserts. I thought about doing a crumble, but it’s hard to bring a next-day crumble to work. I thought about waiting until this weekend to do a creme caramel, but wasn’t sure I’d feel like doing a bake this weekend. The mocha cheesecake is too much work and the baked Alaskas scare me. But this bake seemed doable and also seemed winter-appropriate. Also I had most of the ingredients (except pears and milk), so here we are.
First up, Mary and Paul want me to sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon and sugar into a mixing bowl. The thing about that is sifting brown sugar is it’s, dare I say, impossible. I sifted as much as I could and then decided I didn’t want to sit here for three hours trying to sift chunky sugar, so I dumped it and moved on.
Mary and Paul then want me to mix it and make a well in the centre. I used to think a well needed to be a curved-bottom well, but I’m learning to do a flat-bottomed well lately, which allows for more room and is, let’s be honest, more of a well shape.
Who says you can’t teach an old baker new baking tips?
With the well made, I measured out golden syrup, black treacle and butter into a pan.
Then I put it over medium heat (before reading the recipe again and realizing it should be on low heat).
Also I really need to clean my stove.
Mary and Paul then tell me to heat up milk in another small pan “until it is warm but still feels just comfortable when you dip your little finger in.”
They can be so specific, can’t they?
But I didn’t want to dirty another pan, so I’m heating up milk in the microwave like a monster.
Once the milk is heated, they tell me to stir in the bicarbonate of soda and set it aside.
But since both the milk and the syrup mixture instructions are in the same step, I’m only 80% sure it says to mix the bicarbonate into the milk, not the syrup mixture. The last time I made gingerbread it said to mix it into the syrup mixture, so that’s why I’m only 80% sure. But the other recipe didn’t have milk, so I’m going to add the baking soda to the milk.
Also I kind of like “bicarbonate of soda” better than “baking soda.” It sounds fancier than it is.
The milk got real frothy!
With that set aside, I checked on the syrup mixture and found that the butter had melted and turned swirly like a Van Gogh painting.
With the flour mixture, syrup mixture and frothy milk set aside and cooling, I got started on the pears.
Now, I have to be honest, I am unfamiliar with pears. They have always seemed like an apple’s gross cousin to me. I have tried them and do not really like them, but to be honest I feel like my distrust of them is more about the fact that they’re a lesser apple.
What that also means is that I am not sure what kind of pear to purchase for a bake.
I was in the grocery store and was faced with three different varieties of pears. I can’t even tell you what kinds they were. But I did google “best pear for baking” and was told to choose two of the three in front of me worked, so I chose the cheaper of the two and went with it.
Again, no idea what kind of pear I got.
I want to say “anjou,” but that is mostly a guess.
Mary and Paul told me to peel the pears and leave the stalks attached.
In the grocery store, I had to make a choice. The recipe calls for five pears but the pears were really big, so I chose four instead. And I’m glad I did. Unless the fact that four pears are sufficient for a five-pear recipe means I chose the wrong pears.
Mary and Paul then want me to slice off the bottom of the pears so they stand upright without wobbling, then hollow out the core.
I wasn’t sure how I’d do it because Mary and Paul tell me to do it with a small knife but that didn’t work very well. I then opted for a melon baller and it worked so much better.
With them hollowed out, I had to add the walnuts.
I’m slightly unsure of how I’ll put these in the sponge without all of the walnuts falling out, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
The next step of baking involves me mixing up the sponge really quickly, so I had to make sure I prepped the springclip-tin first.
Time to mix the sponge. Add the melted syrup mixture into the well, then add the milk and a beaten egg.
I then had to mix it quickly until it’s a smooth, thick batter and pour it into the prepared tin.
With the batter ready, I’m told to place the pears so they are evenly spaced.
I think I made the right call with using only four pears.
*50-60 minutes later*
With the sponge risen and firm (something I’m thankful for because the mixture was very low in the tin), I did the toothpick test.
That’s great, but now that I’m looking at it baked, I regret only using four pears.
I mean it smells delicious but it looks weird, no? Like incomplete? Also not everyone will get a pear. Or piece of pear. Or walnuts. This pudding isn’t great for sharing.
Also, as a pudding, this should actually be served warm with a bowl of butterscotch sauce on the side. However, that will not be happening (see previous comment regarding crumble).
The good news is Mary and Paul provide a caveat:
“Any leftovers can be eaten like a cake, cut in thick slices.”
Noted, Mary and Paul. Let’s hope it’s worth sharing.
*the next day*
I am sorry to say this, but I have to say it: this cake looks like two sets of boobs.
I can’t not see it.
I think I used the wrong pears and should have probably peeled off the bit of peel around the stem, but I have made a boob cake.
I got to work and showed no one the boob cake and instead tried to fix it. So I cut off the nippular elements, which was a lot harder to do than I thought. Those stems run deep.
But now I can’t decide if I made it better or worse.
Mary and Paul should’ve said, “Use an odd number of pears to avoid creating a breasty cake.” But they didn’t. And now I feel like a fool. (Like a fool!)
Maybe if I covered it with powdered sugar, it would fix it.
Well that didn’t work. I guess I need to just serve it and slice it up real quickly.
*a little while later*
I served it and sliced it and no one commented on the, you know, issue. I think cutting off the stems was a very good idea. Although if anyone from my office is reading this now, I hope they find this funny.
I have to say, even though I’m not a fan of pears, this was really quite good. The gingerbread was delicious and paired really well with the pear. I didn’t get a slice that had walnuts so I may have to try this again.
I’m also relieved the sponge puffed up as much as it did.
I wonder what this would taste like with the other variety of pear. What’s it called? Is bosa the name of a pear?
I need to write these down.
And use an odd number of pears next time.