A while ago I saw a recipe for a delicious sounding,beautiful spiced pear cake at Kalofagas, a blog which I stumbled on through Foodycat's blog. The cake sounded so inviting I could almost smell the spiced aroma and the sweet delicate fragrance from the pears, and knew I had to make it. A few months passed and with an afternoon tea date upon me I thought it was the perfect time to give it a go.
I followed the recipe pretty much as it was, but not having any ground star anise, I added a whole one to the poaching liquid with very pleasing results. I made an executive decision that the temperature wasn't fan forced, so reduced it to 160'c, and it seemed to be right. I also decided that 1/2 a cup of butter was 125 g, which is probably close enough.
This cake has to be one of the nicest cakes I have had. The cake itself is tender and moist and deliciously spiced. The pears, which I think look so pretty when poached in a neutral liquid, looked stunning in the cake, and tasted amazing. We finished the cake off between the 4 of us, and I think we all could have gone another slice. It didn't need cream or any other accompaniment, but I think a bit of cream or creme fraiche combined with a little of the poaching liquid would have moved the cake from afternoon tea to dessert.
I wasn't done with the cake just yet. As figs were in season and encouraged by foodycat, I decided to try it out with figs.
As the figs wouldn't need poaching I made a little syrup with 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar, a star anise and a cinnamon stick to use for the 60 ml of poaching liquid needed in the cake. Four figs replaced the three pears, and it worked a charm. As the figs cooled, they collapsed a little, but still retained their shape within the cake. They were sweet and jammy, and had lost any of the, what I can only describe as 'planty' flavour that some figs have. We served it with a little vanilla cream, and it was wonderful.
(Not the best picture of the last piece, taken the next day before I scoffed it for breakfast.)
This cake, in both its pear and fig varieties is already a favourite and I can see it being a go-to cake for a long time to come.