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Almond Cake with Muscadel Poached Pears

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Although an almond cake is traditionally flourless, I’m often in the mood for a cake that’s got all that almondy deliciousness, but that also (ahem) rises to the occasion like a traditional, fluffy wheat flour cake. Speaking of rising, I like to opt for a self-raising flour that has the rising agent in it already. The batter is laced with almonds, the exterior is crusted in almonds, and for the crown, I’ve topped each cake with a muscadel poached pear, an idea I stole from the French poire à la Beaujolaise, which is made with red wine, but I find a white muscadel to give these pears a beautifully elegant, golden hue.

Almond Cake with Muscadel Poached Pears

TIME: 2 hours | SERVES: 6

INGREDIENTS

for the muscadel pears

750 ml muscadel

100 g (125 ml) sugar

1 cinnamon stick

2 star anise

6 pears, peeled

25 ml Snowflake corn flour

for the almond cake

 180 ml full cream yogurt

300 g (375 ml) sugar

4 eggs

210 g (375 ml) Snowflake Self Raising Wheat Flour, sifted

100 g ground almonds

1 ml salt

5 ml almond extract

190 ml canola oil

for the syrup

45 ml muscadel

95 g (180 ml) icing sugar, sifted

5 ml vanilla extract

2,5 ml almond extract

 

for the caramelized almond topping

200 g (220 ml) butter

200 g (250 ml) light brown sugar

60 ml milk

300 g flaked almonds

METHOD

for the muscadel pears

Place the muscadel, sugar and cinnamon in a large saucepan. Bring the muscadel to a simmer while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the pears to the syrup and place a piece of baking paper directly on top of the pears. This will keep the pears submerged in the syrup. Let the pears simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, then carefully remove from the poaching syrup. Remove the cinnamon and star anise and add about 60 ml of the syrup to the corn flour. Mix to a smooth paste and add back to the syrup. Place back on the heat and keep stirring until the syrup has thickened. Remove from the heat and place the pears back into the syrup. Leave the pears to cool in the syrup.

 

for the syrup

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan. Place on the heat and stir. Bring to a simmer, leaving it to simmer for 2 minutes. Pour the syrup over the cakes.

for the almond cake

Heat the oven to 175 °C. Line the base of six 3,5 x 10,5 cm small cake tins with baking paper. Spray the tins with edible food spray.

Place the yoghurt, sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl. Using a balloon whisk, stir until well blended. Add the flour, almonds, salt and almond extract. Mix until combined. Add the oil and stir well. The mixture will look as if it’s separated but keep stirring for 2 – 3 minutes.

Pour the batter into the prepared tins and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch in the center and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let it cool for 10 minutes before pouring the syrup over the cakes.

 

for the caramelised almond topping

Place the butter, sugar and milk in a saucepan. Place on a medium heat and keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a simmer and let it cook until golden – about 15 minutes. Add the almonds and mix well. Let it cool slightly before applying to the cake. Using a palette knife, spread the almond over the side of the cakes and on top. Cut the bottoms of the pears flat and top each cake with a poached pear.

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