Fresh from my recent holiday to Greece, I had intended to make Honey and Lemon Loaf for the ‘H’ of my baking challenge but upon revisiting the recipe, it looked really quite underwhelming and I was really up for challenging myself a bit more this week. So instead, I plumped for a last-minute change and decided to make Honey and Pear Layer Cake, from my new favourite book – Hummingbird Bakery’s Cake Days book (I’m not on commission from Hummingbird, I promise!).
The last layer cake I made was the Double Chocolate and Espresso Cake, back in the ‘D’ day of my baking challenge, and I ended up having to go with only two layers rather than the suggested four because I used two 9″ cake tins, rather than the suggested 8″ tins, and, not surprisingly, found I couldn’t easily then slice my cakes into two. Naive!
No more skimping on the proper equipment this time around, I decided, so I invested in two 8″ cake tins in order to make this week’s creation. I had to make the four layers in two batches because I don’t have the luxury of a double oven, but as two cake layers only took 25 minutes to bake between them, it didn’t feel too time demanding.
And what do you know, I cracked a layer cake for the first time! The cake was surprisingly easy to make and is super, super tasty. It’s sweet but varied in flavour – honey, pear and cheese frosting, if you please…
I took some of the cake into work to share with colleagues after they’d had a few weeks off from me forcing cakes upon them and two of them loved the cake so much that they ordered the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book off the back of it. Hummingbird, you so should be paying me commission 😉
This cake was surprisingly easy to make but still looks and tastes like a little bit of a showstopper…
That said, my presentation, although I can tell it is improving, still leaves a lot to be desired and this cake didn’t look quite as ‘finished’ as I had hoped. I didn’t crystallise the fruit on top of the cake for long enough, for a start.
Ingredients for the caramelised pears:
- 3 pears
- 20g unsalted butter
- 60g runny honey
- 40g caster sugar
Ingredients for the sponge:
- 4 large eggs
- 120g caster sugar
- 40g soft light brown sugar
- 120ml buttermilk
- 120g runny honey
- 120ml vegetable oil
- 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 280g plain flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
Ingredients for the frosting:
- 500g icing sugar (I only had 345g in the house though so I winged it, and it turned out ok!
- 100g unsalted butter, softened
- 250g full fat cream cheese
- 50g runny honey
- Preheat the oven to 170C and line the base of the sandwich tins.
- Peel and core the pears and cut lengthways into about 12 slices. Place the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and melt together on a low heat. Add the sliced pears and cook until golden. Set aside to cool while you make the sponge batter.
- Using a handheld electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment cream together the eggs and sugars until light and fluffy.
- In a jug stir together the buttermilk, honey, vegetable oil and lemon zest. Pour the liquid into the creamed ingredients while mixing on a low speed.
- Sift together the remaining ingredients, add to the creamed mixture and mix together on a medium speed to ensure everything is well incorporated. Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared cake tins.
- Top the batter with the cooked pears, allowing approximately nine slices per cake and placing them in concentric circles, each slice evenly spaced apart.
- Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until each sponge is golden brown on top and bounces back when lightly pressed. Allow the cakes to cool completely before you frost them.
- To make the frosting, using the electric whisk or mixer with the paddle attachment slowly mix the butter and icing sugar together until no large lumps of butter remain and the ingredients have a sandy consistency.
- Add the cream cheese and honey and continue mixing on a low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat the frosting until it’s light and fluffy.
- Once the cakes are cooled, place the first layer cake on a plate and top with 3-4 tablespoons of frosting, smoothing it on with a palette knife and adding a little more if needed.Continue this process with each layer.
- When you have added the final layer frost the sides and top of the cake covering it completely so that no sponge can be seen.
**I topped the cake with crystallised fruit (I used strawberries and apricots, but you can use any fruit). To do this, I fully dipped each fruit piece in egg white and then dipped the fruit in a bowl of caster sugar to fully coat the fruit. I then left the fruit to set – you are recommended to do this for 24 but I probably only did about 12 to be fair because I was pushed for time, so my fruit could have been a little more crystallised.