Walnut & Spice Cake With Rose Pears

Walnut & Spice Cake With Rose Pears
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Prep + cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves 8

  • 4 small firm corella pears (720g)
  • 660g (3 cups) caster sugar
  • 750ml (3 cups) shiraz rosé (see Tip)
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 300g (3 cups) walnuts, roasted lightly
  • 70g (1 cup) fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon,
  • plus extra, for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground star anise
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 150g (⅔ cup) caster sugar
  • 125g butter, melted

Mascarpone Cream

  • 250g mascarpone
  • 300ml double cream
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar

1 Peel pears, keeping stalks attached; cut in half. Place sugar, wine, whole star anise and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil, over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 5 minutes. Add pears; cover with a round of baking paper and a small heatproof plate to keep pears submerged. Simmer gently for 20 minutes or until tender. Cool.

2 Preheat oven to 180°C/160° fan. Grease a 20cm springform pan; line base and side with baking paper.

3 Pulse nuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Place nuts in a large bowl with breadcrumbs, baking powder and ground spices; stir until combined.

4 Beat egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add nut mixture; mix well. Fold in butter. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into cake mixture, in two batches. Pour mixture into pan.

5 Bake cake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Stand cake in pan for 10 minutes before transferringtop-side up, onto a wire rack to cool.

6 Place 500ml (2 cups) of pear poaching liquid in a small saucepan; simmer, over medium heat, for 10 minutes or until thickened. Cool. 

7 Make mascarpone cream. 

8 Place cake on a cake stand or plate; top with cream, pears and syrup. Dust with extra cinnamon. 

Mascarpone Cream
Whisk ingredients in a small bowl of an electric mixer until thick, taking care not to over beat. 

You can also use small packham pears. The pears will intensify in colour if stored overnight in the syrup. 
For deep garnet coloured pears, substitute red wine for rosé wine. 
The cake and pears canbe made a day ahead.
Store cake in an airtight container at room temperature; pears and syrup in the fridge. Assemble on day of serving.