Sunday, 15 July 2012

Tackling Adriano Zumbo one pear at a time...

I've  had Adriano Zumbo's book "Zumbo" for over six months and the entire time it's been in my possession it's been sitting in my room on a stand collecting dust.  To be completely honest I was slightly intimidated by epic recipes and mentions of rose emulsions and lychee caviar to try any of these recipes... until about two weeks ago when I finally decided on something to make.  Aside from his macarons or "Zumbarons" I found this recipe to be the easiest and least fiddly, which is saying something about the rest of  the recipes in his book!  I don't doubt I'll try them all eventually but for now his "Lavender Up" bar cake is entirely satisfying for a first shot...

The Zumbo Lavender Up cake is basically a pear, blueberry, lavender and coconut flavoured creation which is friggin' delicious and not nearly as weird as it may sound.  In fact I did have a taste of the mixture before I baked it and I think it's pretty fair to say that the spoon was licked completely clean.  I'm not even sorry. 

You'll need a few extras ready before you start though:

Lavender sugar:

200g caster sugar
50g dried lavender

Put the sugar and lavender into a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.

 Simple sugar syrup:

250g caster sugar
250g water

Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and cool completely.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Clear neutral glaze:

250g water
10g pectin (I used Jamsetta for those of you in Australia and anywhere else that sells it)
265g caster sugar
20g liquid glucose

Place the water in a saucepan and heat to 60˚C.  Mix the pectin with 65g of the caster sugar, add to the water and stir to combine. Bring to the boil and add the remaining sugar.  Return to the boil and add the glucose. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  To use, reheat to 35˚C in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, or in a microwave.

Adriano Zumbo's "Lavender Up" bar cake 

For the caramel:

300g caster sugar
120g water
60g  liquid glucose
220g coconut cream

Lightly spray two bar tins (7.5cm x 20cm) with cooking oil.  Line the trays with non stick paper, enough so the paper extends over the sides of the tin longways.  (This makes the cake easier to turn out, as well as makes sure it really doesn't get stuck in the pan.)

Put the sugar, water and liquid glucose in a small, deep saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring the mixture to the boil and cook until the caramel is dark amber in colour.  NB: One thing the book doesn't remind or suggest you do when making the caramel is making sure you wash down the sides of the saucepan with water when you're waiting for the mixture to colour to make sure the mixture doesn't crystallise. I did this with a pastry brush (with Natasha's help while I was occupied doing other components.) 

Meanwhile, bring the coconut cream to the boil in a separate saucepan and remove from the heat.  Add this warm to the caramel once it has reached the dark amber colouring you need to deglaze. Be super careful doing this though as when the coconut cream hits the caramel it will rise a spit, releasing a lot of heat.

After you've done this, divide the caramel between the two tins.

For the poached pears:

4 beurre bosc pears
2.5kg of sugar syrup (make 5 batches)
Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
Small pinch of saffron threads

200g fresh blueberries (I could only get a hold of canned blueberries unfortunately.)

Peel and core the pears and cut each into two even halves.  Put the pears, syrup, vanilla seeds an saffron in a saucepan and cover with a cartouche.  A cartouche is just a round of baking paper cut to fit just over the contents of the pan.  Bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the pears are tender but not mushy.  Transfer them to a bowl to cool completely.

Cut each piece of pear in half length ways and then into three wedges.  Arrange the pear pieces randomly over the caramel in the tins.  Scatter the blueberries over the pears to fill in the gaps between pears.  If I could suggest one thing though, it would be to leave the pears in their halves rather than wedge them, just for presentation reasons.

Note how the blueberries lack their beautiful blue colouring and a lot of their plumpness? DON'T BUY CANNED BLUEBERRIES FOR THIS. Learn from my mistake. They're ugly.

For the cake batter: 

150g unsalted butter
240g light palm sugar, grated
180g lightly beaten egg
310g plain flour
5g baking powder
75g cornflour
50g lavender sugar
120g desiccated coconut
100g creme fraiche
150g coconut cram
Finely grated zest and juice of one orange
Finely grated zest and juice of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 160˚C.  Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes or until pale and fluffy.  Gradually add the egg, mixing well between each addition.  Mix in the sifted flour, baking powder and cornflour.  Mix in the combined lavender sugar and desiccated coconut.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the creme fraiche, coconut cream and all the zest  and juice, mixing until well combined.

I love that you can see the little purple flecks of lavender in the mixture.

Divide the mixture between the two tins, filling them no more than 1cm from the top and place on a baking tray.  Cook for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out just a little moist. Cool the cakes in their tins and then carefully invert onto a wire rack.

To finish:

**Can I just say that I found this step entirely optional just because I saw it as another layer of sugar you could do without**

200g of clear neutral glaze

Heat the clear neutral glaze in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until it reaches 35˚C and then pour over the cakes.  Transfer to a serving plate.

A long recipe but entirely worth it! It was honestly one of the best cakes I've tasted/made.  The lavender was such a subtle flavour but made a world of difference.  It didn't taste soapy at all.  Stealing dozens of lavender flowers with Natasha from various houses in our neighbourhood definitely payed off! We just hope the owners of the houses weren't looking out their window to find two girls ripping out bunches of lavender from their bushes and running off to find the next unsuspecting bushes. Awkward...

The next time I make this cake though, I'll make a couple of changes.  First of all I think the glaze was slightly redundant, seeing as the caramel glazes the cake pretty well in the first place.  The entire thing is pretty sugar intensive  and I'd like to not give my pancreas a heart attack by adding another flavourless layer of sugar.  I might try leaving out the pear and blueberry layer next time as well and soak the cake through with some vanilla sugar syrup or the caramel, just to switch things up a bit and see what works best.  The cake in itself is quite dense but not to such an unpleasant heavy level for my tastes.  I really enjoyed the consistency of the cake but I'm thinking moistening it up with a bit of syrup or caramel would loosen the cake a tad. 

Om freaking nom.

You can find Adriano Zumbo's website at
You can buy Adriano Zumbo's book "Zumbo" here (UK) and here (US).

1 comment:

  1. Wow these look delicious - I'm dreaming of them all day! This recipe is a winner - THANKS!