South Africa has abundant fruit and fruit stalls, especially here in the Western Cape “Winelands.” L-A has made many apple or pear crumbles, and decided to do something different in a loaf cake. L-A is well known in Ottawa for her elderberry loaf cakes, as well as other berries. Since trying out pear cake on Tony, we have now served this cake to our teen Mailbox Club teen leaders (who are in training for My Father's House Worcester leadership), and to our friends Andre and Janey, who are dear friends, and our Afrikaans tutors. Most baking recipes are exact. This one is approximate, since it depends on how many pears you have. You can substitute apples, but if you do, skip the ginger and add cardamom. I also recommend that you saute the apples, since some apples don't puree well unless they are cooked.
L-A’s South African pear cake
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup vegetable oil
2 ½ cups flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp real vanilla extract (bourbon Madagascar vanilla)
Generous sprinklings of cinnamon and ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
Lyle’s Golden Syrup to seal and top the cake
Peel the pears, and chop pieces into a bowl. Pour half of the sugar, ginger and cinnamon over the pears, and put in fridge for an hour or two. Overnight is acceptable if need be.
Use a larger second bowl and add flour, salt, baking powder, and spices. Stir with a whisk. Use a smaller third bowl and whisk three eggs, and vanilla extract. Add oil and stir well. Go back to the pear mixture, and use a hand blender to puree the fruit. It is okay to leave some chunks for texture.
Pour in the pear mixture into the eggs and oil and mix well. Then slowly combine the wet mixture into the dry mixture bowl. Make sure all the flour mixture is fully moistened. Throw in the raisins and mix again.
Prepare your baking pans with a little butter or oil so the cake will not stick (I used a meatloaf pan and a second pan of the same size).
Set your oven at 175C (350F) and bake for approx. 45 min – 1 hour. Test the cake in the centre with a clean knife and make sure the dough is fully cooked.
While the cake is still warm, use a pastry brush to seal the top of the cake with Lyle’s Golden Syrup (or another sugar syrup).
The two cakes serve about 16, depending on how hungry they are. With the teens they can never get enough. The adults like it too. While you can serve the cake with vanilla ice cream, the pear flavour is subtle, so we recommend it on its own.
Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
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