French pear crumble

I love crumbles of any kind, but this one has become my new love. Pears are one of my favourite fruit, so this recipe was a must try. It came from my French friend, as 'les crumbles' are very fashionable in France too. She likes trying out new flavour combinations and the ones she uses here are very different.
When cooked, pears always seem to go mushy, but cooked in this way, they seem to hold their texture.
It's also a new way of making a crumble - sprinkling it onto pear halves, instead of onto sliced or quartered pears.

You need:
for the crumble:
100g flour
80g soft brown sugar
1/2 tspn ginger
80g butter + about 20g to grease the dish
1 tspn soluble coffee

for the rest:
4 pears
50g sultanas or raisins
30g butter

Preheat oven 180C/gas 4

Put the sultanas or raisins in a bowl of warm water and leave them to soak for about 2 hours.

To make the crumble - put the flour in a bowl, add the ginger, sugar, coffee and the butter cut into pieces. Rub the butter in till you have breadcrumbs - not too fine.
Wash the pears, cut each in half and take out the core.Melt the 30g of butter and coat the pears with it.
Butter a gratin dish and put the pears, skin sides down into the dish and cook for 15mins in the oven, then take them out.
Drain the fruit. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over each pear half and add some of the fruit.
Cook for 20 mins till the crumble is golden and serve the pears warm.

The crumble topping was delicious - I loved the subtle hints of coffee and ginger. This has made me want to try out other flavours in a crumble mix. The pear was soft but not squishy - a great way to cook it.
Another recipe I'll be making again.


Sticky Toffee Cake

I love Sticky Toffee pudding, so having it in a cake form is my idea of heaven. The ingredients are virtually the same, just baked instead of steamed. Icing replaces the toffee sauce, but again you use almost the same ingredients. The recipe was given to me by a friend who runs a small cake shop, and this cake is one she makes regularly for her shop, and it's a best seller.

So, first preheat your oven to 180C/gas4. Grease and line a 28x18cm tin.
You need 225g of dates which you cut into pieces and put in a pan of water and bring to the boil. You boil them uncovered for about 10 mins till the dates are soft. Then take them off the heat and stir in 1 tspn of bicarbonate of soda, and leave to cool.
Cream together 175g of soft brown sugar and 115g of butter of margarine; add a tspn of vanilla extract.
gradually beat in 2 eggs and fold in the dates and 175g sr flour.
Spoon this mixture into your tin and bake for about 35 mins till nicely risen. If you need to, cover the cake for the last 10 mins as the dates are liable to burn.
To make the icing you heat 6tbspns of double cream, 80g soft brown sugar and 25g of butter gently in a saucepan till the sugar dissolves. Then bring to the boil and cook, uncovered for 4 mins till it's golden. Don't stir. Watch the mixture carefully, and take it off the heat if it gets too dark. Leave to cool.
When it's cool, beat in 25g of sifted icing sugar till it's smooth, then spread over the cake. I use a palette knife which I've wet to make a nice pattern on the cake. Leave the icing to set before you cut the cake.

A very indulgent cake - moist sponge, rich sticky sweetness from the dates, toffee icing - heaven in a slice!

Gratin de choux-fleur

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