Country Living (UK) - - Food & Drink -

Prepa­ra­tion 45 min­utes, plus ris­ing Cooking about 1 hour Makes 20 I love an au­tumn bar­be­cue, and bak­ing pears in the rem­nants of a fire is a great way to cook them. Make sure the em­bers aren’t too hot, al­though if the pears catch slightly on the out­side, it doesn’t mat­ter – it’s the soft flesh in­side that you’re af­ter.

FOR THE DOUGHNUTS 75ml but­ter­milk 75ml whole milk 7g fast-ac­tion dried yeast 60g un­salted but­ter 250g strong white bread flour 40g caster sugar, plus ex­tra for coat­ing 1 egg, beaten 1½ litres veg­etable oil, for deep fry­ing FOR THE CHO­CO­LATE SAUCE 200g dark cho­co­late 125ml dou­ble cream 75ml whole milk 2 tbsp golden syrup FOR THE PEARS 10 ripe pears 6-8 branches of bay leaves, about 25cm in length, soaked overnight in wa­ter 4 tbsp Eau de Vie Poire Wil­liam

1 Warm the but­ter­milk and milk in a pan; re­move from the heat and stir in the yeast. Set aside for 15-20 min­utes. In a sep­a­rate pan, heat the but­ter on a medium tem­per­a­ture un­til it starts to colour. Watch closely – it should smell nutty. Take off the heat, trans­fer to a bowl and leave to cool for 10 min­utes. 2 Sift the flour into a large mix­ing bowl then add the yeasty milk, but­ter, caster sugar, egg and a good pinch of salt. Bring to­gether into a dough and knead on a floured sur­face for 10 min­utes. Lightly brush a bowl with veg­etable oil, pop the dough in and cover. Leave in a warm place un­til dou­bled in size. Knock the dough back, chop into 20 pieces, then roll into small balls. Trans­fer to oiled bak­ing sheets and cover loosely with oiled sheets of cling­film. Leave to prove for 30 min­utes. Heat the oil to 180°C, then fry the doughnuts in batches for 2½ min­utes on each side un­til golden. Trans­fer to kitchen pa­per, then toss in caster sugar while warm. 3 Melt the sauce in­gre­di­ents in a small pan, stir­ring un­til shiny and smooth. 4 When the em­bers of your fire are glow­ing, re­move the bay branches from the wa­ter and dry with kitchen pa­per. Lay a sheet of foil on a work­sur­face, then ar­range 3 or 4 branches in the cen­tre. Sit half of the pears on top, gather up the foil and scrunch to cre­ate a par­cel – spoon in 2 tbsp of the Poire Wil­liam just be­fore seal­ing. Re­peat with the se­cond par­cel, nes­tle into the em­bers and bake for 30-40 min­utes, or un­til the pears are soft to the touch. Serve with the cho­co­late sauce.


Prepa­ra­tion 35 min­utes Cooking 1 hour 30 min­utes Serves 8-10 Half of my fam­ily hail from Ger­many and I’ve eaten plenty of great Ger­man cakes over the years – a good Nusskuchen is hard to beat. Each au­tumn, I con­tem­plate the naïve ro­man­tic no­tion of gath­er­ing my own hazel­nuts from the hedge of cop­piced hazel that leads into the or­chard; I’ve yet to get there be­fore the squir­rels.

100g hazel­nuts, plus a few whole ones to dec­o­rate 200g un­salted but­ter 200g caster sugar 4 eggs, plus two egg whites 200g plain flour 4 tbsp milk 1 tsp bak­ing pow­der 4 tbsp strong cof­fee 7 pears 2 tbsp caster sugar 1 star anise 300ml dou­ble cream ic­ing sugar, to dec­o­rate

1 Pre­heat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven) gas mark 4. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins. Blitz the nuts in a food pro­ces­sor un­til fine. Cream the but­ter and sugar to­gether with an elec­tric whisk un­til pale and fluffy, then whisk in the 4 eggs, one at a time. With a spoon, mix in the nuts, flour, milk, bak­ing pow­der and cof­fee. 2 Whisk the 2 egg whites in a sep­a­rate bowl un­til they form stiff peaks, then care­fully fold into the cake mix­ture with a me­tal spoon. 3 Di­vide the mix­ture equally be­tween the lined cake tins, then bake for 25-30 min­utes un­til golden and a skewer comes out cleanly from the cen­tre of the cakes. Leave to cool for 10 min­utes, then trans­fer to a wire rack. 4 Turn the oven down to 140°C (120°C fan oven) gas mark 1. To make some dried pear slices for the dec­o­ra­tion, firstly cover a bak­ing sheet with parch­ment, then thinly slice 3 of the pears and spread them on the sheet. Bake for one hour, flip­ping the slices half­way through. Set aside to cool. 5 Peel, core and chop the re­main­ing 4 pears, then add to a pan with 2 tbsp caster sugar, a splash of wa­ter and the star anise. Sim­mer on low for 20 min­utes or so (de­pend­ing on how ripe your pears are) un­til the pear has soft­ened but not dis­solved to a purée. Cool be­fore us­ing. 6 To as­sem­ble, whisk the cream un­til thick, then spoon over the base cake layer. Spoon a layer of the cooked pears on the cream, then top with the se­cond cake. Ar­range the dried pear slices on top with a few hazel­nuts, then dust with ic­ing sugar.

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