Just last month, I went to the Blue Mountains for the weekend with friends. It rained. And rained. And when it wasn't raining, the fog set in - so thick as to obscure all trace of the majestic escarpments the area is famous for. So we hunkered down inside, in the holiday house we'd rented in Blackheath. The six of us, inner-city residents all, wandered from room to room marvelling at the sheer space, which was to our eyes as vast and impressive as the tourist vistas we didn't see. A table that seats more than three comfortably! A kitchen several people can be in at a time! A front and back yard! A separate living room! With a fireplace!
And so, in the end, we were more than happy to stay in. Playing board games and charades. Twirling sparklers on the terrace in the drizzle. Launching paper planes out into the misty backyard to see whose could fly furthest (not mine). Answering trivia questions. Sampling stouts, drinking red wine and coffee made from home-roasted beans. Roasting marshmallows. And eating this cake by the fire.
I hadn't made this particular cake before and quite honestly, wasn't sure how it was going to turn out. It was so modest in its list of ingredients - just one pear, a single egg, a mere two tablespoons of butter... I was apprehensive. But as it turns out, it's one of those cases where the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Together, all those humble elements combine to make one lovely, rustic, truly memorable cake. The pear is pillowy soft, the pecan topping crisp and crunchy and the spices suffuse it all with a wonderful warmth, as satisfying as a fire on a rainy winter weekend. Regardless of the weather, this is cake worth staying in for.
Pear pecan struesel cake
Adapted from Pinch My Salt
When I came to write a shopping list for this recipe I found all I had to buy was the pear. Making it was similarly straight-forward. No need for food processors or stand mixers, just a few bowls and a wooden spoon. Though I made it at home and transported it up to the mountains, it's exactly the sort of thing you could easily make in a holiday house, with ingredients readily available at the local shops (though maybe you'd bring the spices from home just to save yourself buying huge quantities of things you only need a small amount of), and measurements adaptable to foreign cupboards and cutlery drawers.
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking (bicarb) soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
1 medium pear, peeled, cored and chopped
- Preheat oven to 375 deg F.
- Mix all streusel ingredients in a small bowl til well combined and crumbly. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, oil, sour cream, vanilla extract and sugar. Pour egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix with a large spoon til batter is smooth.
- Pour batter into a greased 8-inch round cake tin. Sprinkle pear chunks evenly over the cake batter then sprinkle the pecan streusel evenly over the the top of the batter and pears. Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes. Let cool in tin for 10-15 minutes then carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely.