Disclaimer: This recipe was developed for the Dandenong Market in May 2021. Tim Hollands from Tim’s Foods and I worked on a series of five recipes together that were used as part of their Mother’s Day promotion.
I grew up with these kind of cakes. Not the fancy ones with intricate layers and decorated to the T, no, the simple ones, often on a big baking tray, with a layer of fruit, and oh yes, sweet crumble on top. So when I was asked to develop a sweet recipe that uses autumn ingredients available at the market, it was time to go back to my roots.
One thing I decide to do with this cake is make it a tiny version, just enough for 4 people. Sometimes I shy away from baking cakes because they’re so big, and unless you have an army of friends coming over, you’ll be eating cake for days. So this recipe is just filling one of those standard 20cm x 20cm tins that most of us will have at home. If you want to fill a whole baking tray, just double the recipe.
Pear and spice, a match made in heaven
When I think of autumn fruit, apples are on top of my list, but pears have a soft spot in my heart too. There is something a little more delicate about their flavour that pairs to wonderfully with chocolate, but of course one cannot look past how well pears and spices work together. Think poached pears, and the delicious spices like cloves and cinnamon you put in the poaching liquid! So for this crumble slice, I wanted to showcase the humble pear, combined with a good kick of garam masala spice.
Three simple parts
This cake is made from 3 very simple parts, with ingredients you can get from the market.
The base: a dense, nutty dough, with plenty of spice and texture from roughly chopped walnuts mixed in.
The fruit: simply a layer of sliced pears, but for that little bit of extra creamy sugariness, little pieces of chopped date in between.
The crumble: that sweet and irresistible crunch that happens when you mix sugar with butter and flour. Hmmmmmmm.
Pear, date and walnut crumble slice
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp castor sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 1 cup almond meal
- 3/4 cup plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1.5 tsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 Beurre Bosc pears
- 2-3 dates
- 2 tbsp castor sugar
- 40 g cold unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup plain flour
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Melt the butter in the microwave, then let it cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, cream the two types of sugar with the egg yolks and vanilla before stirring in the melted butter.
- In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, garam masala, almond meal, salt).
- Add the dry mix to the egg mixture bit by bit, alternating with the milk, until just combined. Do not overmix, lumps can remain.
- Fold the walnuts into the dough.
- Grease and line a 20x20cm square bake tin with baking paper. Spread the mixture evenly into the tin.
- Cut the pears into quarters, core, then slice lengthwise into four slices. Arrange pear slices on the base in rows, lightly pressing them into the dough.
- Chop dates into small pieces and spread out evenly on top of the pears.
- Cut cold butter into small pieces.
- Mix with sugar and flour and massage together by hand until large lumps form.
- Sprinkle the crumble over the pears.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes until the crumbs are golden.
- Slice into rectangles and serve with whipped cream (optional).