Dessert

Pear and juniper berry cake

This cake is a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds
16
1H
1H
2H

Ingredients

Cake
Juniper berry poached pears
Treacle buttercream

Method

1.Make juniper berry poached pears.
2.Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Grease two 20cm round cake pans; line bases and sides with baking paper.
3.Spread walnuts on an oven tray in a single layer. Roast for 7 minutes or until browned lightly and fragrant; cool. Process nuts into fine crumbs.
4.Whisk 3 eggs, 11/3 cups of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer for 8 minutes or until thick and pale. Using a balloon whisk, fold in 1⅓ cups of the sifted flour until combined. Fold in half the ground walnuts, ½ cup the buttermilk and half the butter. Divide mixture evenly between cake pans.
5.Bake cakes for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Leave cakes in pans for 10 minutes before turning, top-side up (see notes), onto wire racks to cool.
6.Wash and dry cake pans; grease and line pans as in step 2. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with remaining eggs, sugar, vanilla, flour, ground walnuts, buttermilk and butter to make another two cakes.
7.Make treacle buttercream.
8.Place one cake on a plate or board. Reserve ⅔ cup of the buttercream for the top of cake; divide the remaining buttercream into three portions. Spread one portion of buttercream on cake; repeat layering, finishing with a cake layer. Spread top with reserved buttercream. Decorate cake with pears; drizzle with syrup.

Juniper berry poached pears

9.Place wine, the water, sugar, beetroot, juniper berries, peppercorns and bay leaves in a large heavy-based saucepan; stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, without stirring; add pears to pan. Place a piece of baking paper over pears; place a small plate on top to keep pears submerged in the poaching liquid. Simmer gently for 20 minutes or until small pears are tender; remove small pears with a slotted spoon. Cook larger pears for a further 5 minutes or until tender (cooking time will depend on the ripeness of the pears). Cool pears in liquid. Strain 1 cup of poaching liquid into a small saucepan; bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 1/3 cup. Cool.

Treacle buttercream

10.Beat butter in a bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Add cream cheese, sifted icing sugar and treacle; beat until light and fluffy.

Test Kitchen notes

Pears can be poached up to 2 days ahead. Cakes and buttercream are best made on day of serving.

To turn out cakes, top-side up, first invert the cake onto a wire rack. Place another wire rack on top then, sandwiching the cake between the two racks, flip it over.

Note

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