As you can probably imagine this cake is a bit fiddly but it’s Easter. Do yourself the favour of making this. The time it takes you to prepare it will hopefully prevent you gorging on revolting amounts of chocolate, for a few minutes at least, and the result is a welcome respite from the claggy, beautiful, overwhelming tsunami of cocoa.
I made it for mother’s day this year (damn you confusing apostrophe, taunting me once more) and for a few extra brownie points I decorated it with some helibores. Utterly toxic to eat, no doubt, but one of mum’s favourite flowers. And see that cake knife, helpfully emblazoned with ‘cake knife’, that’s my grandma’s. Nice.
The cake itself is a génoise sponge, halved, sandwiching the remarkably refreshing, heady pear mousse. The mousse is a Dan Lepard recipe, again from his Short and Sweet book, and the sponge from James Martin.
I might add, do not even attempt the génoise sponge without electrical assistance, preferably a stand mixer but electric beaters at the very least.
Lastly make this the day before you plan on eating it. It is just not worth the stress of setting things on the day.
Actually, this is the last thing, I thought I’d taken photos of the whole process from the previous time making this. I hadn’t. Apologies.
Oven temperature 180 Celsius
Caster sugar 125g
Plain flour 125g
Butter (melted) 25g
Pears – you need 575g of flesh, you can peel and core fresh pears or use tinned pears (in juice) or, indeed, a combination of both
White wine 400ml
Caster sugar 150g
Gelatine 3 teaspoons
Preheat the oven and line a 23cm round tin with baking parchment.
In a very large mixing bowl (hopefully, for your sake, that of a stand mixer) crack in the eggs and tip in the sugar. Whisk, on high, till the mixture becomes hugely voluminous, pale and fluffy.
You’re looking for ‘ribbon stage’, where if you drip some of the cake batter off the whisk back into the bowl of batter it’ll take a few seconds to sink back in.
When you get to that stage, stop whisking, and fold in the flour. Then fold in the butter.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and into the oven with it. It’ll take 20 – 30mins and should be a medium brown colour and be lovely and springy.
Let that cool down entirely before cutting it in half horizontally. One of these gizmos is well worth the investment by the way. The wire cutting think that looks like a bow.
Anyway, the mousse.
Prepare whichever pears you’ve chosen to use and place them in a medium saucepan with the wine and HALF of the sugar.
Simmer the pears till tender, then remove them from the pan but put the pan back on the heat with all of the liquid.
Now simmer that liquid down till you’re left with 100ml.
Pour the reduced liquid into a large mixing bowl with the softened pears and blitz till smooth. Alternatively, use a food processor.
Put two tablespoons of water into a microwavable bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. Pop it in the microwave for about 25seconds or until the gelatine has all dissolved.
Pour the gelatine mix into the smooth pear goo, along with the remaining 75g of sugar and mix thoroughly.
Let it cool till barely warm.
You can busy yourself lining the 23cm tin you used for the sponge with clingfilm and putting the whole lot on a baking tray.
Once the pear mix has cooled, beat through the mascarpone and cream.
To assemble. Put one disk of sponge, cut side up, in the clingfilmed tin.
Pour over the mousse (fear not, it will be unnervingly liquidy). I didn’t use all of the mousse, as it happens. I poured all but 200ml into the tin. You can pour that 200ml into a lovely glass and eat it by itself once it sets. Or maybe with some amaretti. That’d be nice.
Carefully place the second disk, cut side down, on the mousse.
Gently fold over the excess clingfilm and put the whole lot in the fridge.
Let it set overnight.
When everything is set, with your fingers crossed, slide off the cake ring and un-clingfilm the top of the cake.
Place a pretty plate over the cake and flip it, then unwrap the cake completely.
Dust liberally with icing sugar and decorate with some seasonal flowers. Then eat some chocolate, you deserve it.