Chocolate Ginger Cake Recipe with Chai Poached Pear and Candied Pecan by Cove Cake Design

Winter months and their associated festivities bring with them a desire to cosy up indoors with woollen jumpers and log fires, while our palates turn from light and fresh summer fare to rich and aromatic flavours. This Chocolate Ginger Cake Recipe with Chai Buttercream, Chai Poached Pear and Candied Pecans is inspired by those warm and spicy scents and flavours of winter.

Much can be made in advance in preparation for entertaining: un-iced the cake keeps well in an airtight container for up to a week while the buttercream can likewise be made in advance and stored in the fridge. Once assembled it will keep well for 2-3 days in the fridge…..if any lasts that long!

For the Chocolate Ginger Cake
– 175g unsalted butter
– 150g 70% dark chocolate chips
– 150g caster sugar
– 150g soft light brown sugar
– 45g cocoa powder
– 225ml hot coffee
– 1 tbsp dark treacle
– 2 large eggs, beaten
– 210g plain flour
– 2 heaped tsp ground ginger
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp baking soda
– Pinch salt

For the Chai Swiss Meringue Buttercream
– 340g unsalted butter
– 3 chai tea bags
– 150g fresh egg whites
– 250g granulated sugar
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– ½ tsp ground ginger

For the Chai Poached Pears
– 500ml water
– 3 chai tea bags
– Squeeze lemon juice
– 150g caster sugar
– 2 pears

For the Pecan Praline
– 50g caster sugar
– 50g pecan nuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F and grease and line three 6” cake tins.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over a low heat.
3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar and cocoa powder until incorporated.
4. Slowly add the hot coffee and whisk until smooth.
5. Whisk in the treacle and then the eggs one at a time.
6. In the bowl of a mixer (or a large bowl), sift together the flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix gently until combined.
7. With mixer on low speed gradually pour the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture. Once added, beat on medium-high speed for approximately 1min. Scrape the bottom of bowl and beat again briefly until there are no lumps and everything is well mixed.
8. Divide the mixture between the three tins and bake for 25-30 mins or until springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
9. Leave cakes to cool in the tin for 10 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Chai Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Heat until the butter begins to sizzle, darkens slightly and exudes a delicious toffee-like aroma.
2. Remove from the heat and add the chai tea bags. Leave to infuse for at least 30 mins.
3. Remove the tea bags and pour the butter into a bowl. Place in the fridge until firm (ideally overnight).
4. When ready to make the buttercream, remove the flavoured butter from the fridge and allow to warm up slightly (you want the butter cool but not fridge cold).
5. Clean the bowl and whisk of an electric mixer with a squeeze of lemon juice and dry with paper towel to remove any traces of grease. Place the egg white and sugar into the bowl and place over a pot of simmering water, whisking constantly, until the temperature reaches 160°F on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
6. Transfer the bowl to the mixer and using the whisk attachment whisk until the meringue is thick and glossy and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch.
7. Switch to paddle attachment and with mixer on low speed add the butter a cube at a time, mixing until incorporated after each addition. If the mixture curdles continue to mix until it comes back together.
8. Add the cinnamon and ginger and mix again briefly. If the buttercream is too runny, refrigerate until firmer and mix again before using.

For the Chai Poached Pears
1. Place the water in a saucepan with a squeeze of lemon juice and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add chai teabags. Leave to infuse for at least 30 mins before removing the teabags.
2. Add the sugar and bring to a simmer again to dissolve. Peel the pears and add to the poaching liquid. Simmer for approximately 25-30mins until pears are soft through.
3. Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and set aside to cool.

For the Pecan Praline
1. Heat the sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat, swirling from time to time until caramelised.
2. Remove from the heat, add the chopped toasted pecans and stir to coat.
3. Pour the praline out onto some non-stick baking paper. When cool break up into small pieces using a rolling pin or pestle and mortar.

To Assemble
1. Level the tops of each of the three cakes so they are identical in height.
2. Place one cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Pipe one third of the chai buttercream on top and smooth over. Chop one and a half of the poached pears into small pieces and sprinkle half on top of the buttercream. Sprinkle over a third of the praline. Repeat with the second cake layer.
3. Place the final cake layer on top. Pipe and spread the remaining buttercream and sprinkle with the remaining pecans. Place the remaining half a poached pear on top. If desired add a little gold leaf.

RECIPE BY SUZANNE BRADY

Suzanne Brady Cake Cove Design Cove Cake Design was founded in 2013 by Suzanne Brady. A former scientist, with a PhD in Biochemistry followed by a career working for Cancer Research UK, Suzanne discovered a natural love of baking after becoming a full-time mother in 2008. A keen student, she completed a Professional Masters Certificate in Cake Decorating, Royal Icing and Sugar Flower Techniques at Squires International School and a PME Knightsbridge Diploma in Sugar Flowers. With an eye for perfection Suzanne subsequently honed her skills with online and self-taught techniques. And so in 2013 Cove Cake Design, a nod to the stunning Sandycove area of Dublin where Suzanne and her family call home, began its baking journey.

From the outset Suzanne’s ethos has been to work closely with each client, drawing on a wide source of inspiration to create a bespoke cake unique to each occasion. With a delectable menu reflecting the quality of ingredients sourced and the design precision with which Suzanne decorates each cake it is unsurprising that Cove Cake Design has flourished into a thriving home business whose cakes have been recognised and featured in numerous magazines and blogs from around the world.

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