One of the best things that came from my travels was the foodie inspiration - you know, alongside finding myself and being at one with nature. Much to the dismay of my waistline, Bali and Australia were filled to the brim with incredible cafés, serving up some of the most beautiful dishes I have ever seen. I genuinely don't think anyone can beat the Aussies on the art of plating.
One dish in particular remains etched in my mind. It was at The Kettle Black, one of my favourite brunch spots in Melbourne, set in a beautiful old Federation bungalow. I ordered the bircher muesli, and out it came topped with all kinds of fruit - kiwi, orange, blueberries, pear - cut and arranged to perfection. Somehow they made the fruit look cool.
The beautifully thinly sliced pear in said bowl of muesli was the inspiration for this pear & pecan spice cake. I realise how ridiculous that probably sounds - I won't lie, it has to be one of my more niche sources of inspiration. It is inspiration nonetheless, and as the photos show, it's just amazing how a simple cut of fruit can completely transform a bake.
200g unsalted butter
3 medium eggs
250g coconut sugar (can use caster sugar or golden caster sugar, but reduce to 200g)
200g spelt flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp all spice
50g roughly chopped pecans, plus extra to decorate
2-3 conference pears
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line and grease a 23cm cake tin.
2. Peel, core, and finely slice the pears. Place them in a bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent them browning.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or using an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).
4. Gradually add in the eggs one by one, making sure each one is incorporated before adding the next.
5. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices in a separate bowl, and gradually fold into the wet mixture in 3 inclusions. Carefully fold in the pecans.
6. Pour the batter into your prepared tin and arrange your sliced pears on top. Don't actually push them into the batter as they'll just disappear into the cake in the oven, so just place them on top. Scatter with your extra rougly chopped pecans.
7. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
8. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
9. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt and a cuppa!