Pears are not only a delicious winter fruit, they’re also considered to be a symbol of Christmas, represented and immortalized alongside a partridge in the XVIIIth century English Christmas Carol “The Twelve days of Christmas”, which is a cumulative song that enumerates increasingly grand gifts, given on each of the twelve days of Christmas…
There’s no better way to spice up a cold December day, than by enjoying this richly decorated pear and caramel layer cake using a mixture of pears (a typical winter fruit), and fudge icing . Your guests will be forever enchanted and won’t know whether to admire it or to eat it!
You will find the recipe and icing techniques below.
Note: Because there are two cakes (as it’s a two tier cake) you must double all the ingredients below and divide the cakes into two cake pans, one large and the other smaller or make two different cakes. The ingredients for the icing have already been doubled.
- 170g butter (softened)
- 300g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 320g all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons of baking powder
- A small teaspoon of baking soda
- A pinch of salt
- 250g fresh pears (chopped into small pieces and cooked)
- 50g pear purée
- 100ml liquid caramel
- 180ml of milk
- 3 large tablespoons of cold water
For the icing and decorating
- 1kg of mascarpone
- 100g icing sugar
- 100ml of caramel
- 12 large white (or cream) sugar flowers (optional)
- 48 small white (or cream) sugar flowers (optional)
- 50g white sugar paste (optional)
- sugar paste cut-outs in the shape of a snowflake (optional)
- A round cardboard disk (same size as the smaller cake)
- 3 wooden rods (Between 5cm and 7cm)
- 2 metal spatulas for the icing, a long one and a small one
Preparation time: approximately 40minutes
Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F). Grease 2 round cake pans (The larger one measures 64cm and the smaller one 48,5cm) and reserve for later. Peel, cut and dice the flesh of 3 to 4 pears or until you measure out 250g. Cook the pears in a few tablespoons of cold water and a pinch of caster sugar for about 15 to 20 minutes or until soft. Do not burn.
In a bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt and reserve for later. In another larger bowl, cream the butter, pear purée and sugar and whisk until the texture is pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and the vanilla extract and beat until the mixture is well combined.
Pour in the flour mixture and milk and caramel, first by adding a few spoons of the flour mixture and mixing until well combined, then by pouring a few drops of the milk and caramel. Alternate in this way until all the ingredients are used up and make sure the mixture is nice and smooth. Sprinkle the baking soda over the pear pieces then fold them gently into the cake batter. Pour the cake mixture into the smallest greased cake pan and bake for approximately 40 to 50 minutes or until the tip of a knife comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool on a cake rack for about 1h30minutes. Repeat the procedure with the same amount of ingredients for the second cake, then bake for 40 to 50 minutes at 180°C. Leave the second cake to cool for about 1h30minutes before icing.
Tip: both cakes came out very crumbly and extremely difficult to ice, as the pieces came away on the spatula as I was icing them. I recommend wrapping each cake tightly with plastic wrap and putting them in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to make them a little more “compact” and hence, easier to ice.
For the icing and decorating
Once both cakes have completely cooled off, place them onto a turntable (this will make the icing procedure easier). Insert three wooden rods around the center of the larger cake. Note: The length of each rod must correspond with the width of the cake. Then place a round cardboard disk in the center and positioned on top of the rods. Note: The rods and disk will help hold up the weight of the smaller cake so it doesn’t sink into the larger one.
Then, whisk the mascarpone, icing sugar and caramel together until stiff yet still quite souple. Chose a small round nozzle and insert it into the piping bag before pouring a small portion of the icing into it. Reserve for later.With the aid of a long metal spatula and a smaller one, ice the first cake by starting with the sides and finishing with the top. Smooth down the edges until completely flat. Do the same with the second cake.
Once the cakes are in position, pipe the icing into tiny round dots all around the top of the smaller cake. Make bigger dots around the base and top of the second, larger cake. Delicately lift the smaller cake and position it onto the larger one. smooth down any edges that were damaged during the process.
Cut out a few snowflakes from the sugar paste and place them in the center. Then, using the smaller flowers, position them at the base of the small cake leaving a space every 1cm. Do the same at the base of the larger cake with the bigger flowers, this time placing them every 5cm.
Enjoy this delicious fruity cake with a cup of hot jasmine tea or a glass of apple cider by the warmth of a crackling fire…
Special thanks to Stewart Abela for his beautiful nature pictures!
References: “The twelve days of Christmas”.