Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Gâteau d'adieu

My Grandma doesn't have such a great affection for cooking anymore. She says "you cook so much for the other person". For years I disagreed, I was always happy to engage in this hobby like craft producing a meal for that meal's sake. Now I'm cooking with a bit more focus; the next blog post, or something for a future business plan perhaps. 
People do pop up too and I can now comprehend such pleasure in producing a meal, a cake or a bottle of fruit cordial based on some flippant comment, watching the consumer revel in devouring a recreated memory or their own; now realised culinary idea. 
I've got tears in my eyes right now, for two reasons. The first is a persistent eye infection in my right eye, and secondly because I had to say goodbye to someone today. I am one of two people who are in the wrong places, at the right time. Circumstances, not emotions dictated a kind and delicate disentanglement. I sent him on his way unsurprisingly for me, with 4 pieces of Pear & Almond cake. A subtle gesture (snuck into a canvas bag) of thanks, understanding and a sprinkle of "you're making a mistake" x 
Pear & Almond cake

2oz of ground Almonds

2oz of plain flour

4oz caster sugar

1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

4oz unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon of almond essence

4-5 dried apricots, sliced

2 large free range eggs

hand full of flaked almonds

1 conference pear

1 small bar of white chocolate

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4. Mix the flour, sugar, almonds and baking powder together in a large bowl. Rub in the butter lightly with your fingers until it looks like fresh bread crumbs. Make a well in the centre and crack in the 2 eggs. Give it all a good whisk until it starts to form a smooth mixture, stop whisking when it is pale and a little bit fluffy. Fold in the sliced bits of apricot and almond essence and transfer to a small round cake tin which has been well buttered with a circle of baking paper greased on the bottom. Peel the conference pear and take off the stalk. Slice in half then in quarters lengthways and remove the core. Take the quarters and slice them finely lengthways and arrange the slices like spokes of a wheel on top of the cake, pressing them in ever so slightly into the cake mixture. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and put into the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown at the edges and set fully in the centre. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle a little over the cake. Serve in thick slices, preferably before the chocolate sets.


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