Friday, October 9, 2015

Pear Walnut Cake with Ginger Glaze


One of the most delicious items you can find in a Germany bakery is a covered cake or gedeckte kuchen.  Various fruit fillings are sandwiched between two thin layers of cake. Usually the top of the cake is glazed with a thin plain icing.


The good news is, they are fairly easy to make at home. The cake is baked in a sheet cake pan or brownie pan, depending on the recipe. 


This version has an early Fall twist using sweet fresh pears, crunchy walnuts and the lovely sting of ginger flavor. 
Pear Walnut Cake with Ginger Glaze
Prep Time: 30 minutes 
Chill Time: 45 Minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes 
Yield: 1 dozen pieces

Ingredients:
  • 6 ounces walnut halves
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1+1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 11 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3 lbs. fresh Bartlett pears
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 +1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3-4 tablespoons water
  • Crystallized ginger for garnish, if desired.
Directions:
  • Grind 2 + 1/2 ounces of the walnuts in a food processor or blender. until they resemble a crumb consistency. 
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the ground walnuts, all-purpose flour, 2/3 cup of the white granulated sugar and salt. 
  • Place the bowl in the stand mixer, add the unsalted butter and the egg. Use the paddle attachment to mix into a smooth dough. 
  • Wrap the dough in plastic cling film and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes. 
  • Chop the rest of the walnuts into pieces, Place in a large bowl. Add the rest of the white granulated sugar, ground ginger and cornstarch. Whisk the ingredients together until completely combined. 
  • Peel, quarter and core the fresh pears. Slice the quarters horizontally and add them to the bowl with the walnut, sugar, ginger mixture. Toss together to coat the pears completely. 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line a 8 x12 inch brownie pan with parchment paper. 
  • Remove 2/3 of the dough from the refrigerator. You may want to use a kitchen scale for exact measurements. 
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a rectangle. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use your fingers to spread the dough our evenly into the pan and press the edges to make sure they are even up the sides of the pan. Pierce the entire sheet of dough several times with a fork. 
  • Spread the bread crumbs out evenly inside the dough-lined pan. Add the sliced fresh pear mixture and spread the mixture to cover the entire bottom of the cake. 
  • Remove the last third of the dough from the refrigerator. Turn it out on lightly floured parchment paper on a work surface. Place another piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap on top and roll it out to a 10 inch by 10-inch square. If the dough sticks to the parchment paper and/or the plastic wrap, place it in the freezer for about 10 minutes or so until it hardens enough to peel easily off the paper. Once again, pierce the entire sheet of dough several times with a fork. 
  • Place the second sheet of dough on top of the pear mixture in the pan and press the edges to the dough from to seal. 
  • Place the pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. 
  • Whisk together the powdered sugar, water and ground ginger until it forms a smooth icing. 
  • Pour the icing over the cooled cake and use a rubber spatula or a pastry knife to smooth it out evenly over the cake. 
  • Wrap the pan in plastic cling film and let the cake set for another 5 hours before slicing and serving. 
  • If desired, scatter chopped crystallized ginger over the top of the icing for garnish.

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