great British blog off

The Great British Blog Off: Italian Pear and Pine Nut Ring Cake

Happy Sunday, Internet people! 

I write to you from my couch, where I’m curled up next to Azula. She’s chewing her bone, and I’m nursing incredibly sore, tired legs. 

In the Fandom Running Club, we are three days in to one of our virtual race events: Battle of the Fandoms. Divided into teams centered around different movies, books, TV shows, etc, we walk and run as many miles as possible to move our team along a virtual race course in the fantastic Racery platform.

It’s fitting that I managed to secure a spot on the Great British Bake Off team, Running Choux. Each race course gives us a virtual tour of someplace new, and this time around, we’re in Greece!

In the past 2 days, I’ve walked and run 17.8 miles, and boy am I feeling it! Today, I’m hoping to achieve what we call a “cap”—hitting the daily upwards limit of miles allowed per person: 15.

But before I get moving, I owe you a recap of this week’s bake, which I managed to squeeze into my 10 mile day! 

This Week’s Recipe: Italian Pear and Pine Nut Ring Cake 

The Prep

This week, I served as Contact Tracing coordinator in addition to my typical role at work. 

Wednesday saw a malfunction in our ID system that kept me and my front desk staff busy, and Thursday dawned with a couple cases to call, spread out from 7am to 8pm. 

With everything happening at work, I only occasionally spared my bake a thought, wondering how the peculiar (to me) combination of flavors would turn out. 

Andy and I grabbed pears, pine nuts, almond extract, and chocolate from the grocery during our quick weekly trip. I still requested a stop at Fresh Market for my weekly pot pie, of course, and to grab the heavy whipping cream I forgot at Giant Eagle. 

With everything assembled, I headed out into the cold for my weekly long run before settling in for the bake. 

The Bake 

I got to do so many fun things for this bake! I’ve loved how even the simple recipes have taught me new techniques thus far, and as we close in on the end of the cake section, I know I’ll learn even more. 

This cake gets studded with pine nuts inside and out, so the recipes instructs to smear butter on the tin and then chuck pine nuts around the bottom and sides. I did not believe they’d stick and was amazed when they clung to the sides. 

From there, you pop the tin in the fridge to keep the butter firm and make it easier for the pine nuts to stay in place when the batter goes in. 

While the tin kept cool in the fridge, I chopped up two pears and mixed them in with more pine nuts and some dark chocolate. This step made me nervous because as any GBBO fan knows, if you cut the fruit too large it’ll sink, but if it’s too small, you run the risk of rendering it invisible in the final bake. 

Next up, I got to tackle whipping heavy whipping cream into, well… whipped cream. I’ve never actually done this before, and was a bit nervous given that our heavy whipping cream isn’t quite as thick as British double cream, which the recipe calls for. 

It also instructs to use a handheld electric whisk instead of the stand mixer, so I pulled out my trusty Tiffany blue handheld for this week. The cream bubbled and splashed and eventually thickened to soft peaks, a very soothing transformation. 

My mixer’s job not yet finished, it came time to once again attempt whisking eggs to the ribbon stage. You may recall last time I didn’t quite get them there, so I was more than a little nervous to try again. 

Rather than pause and second guess, I just kept going, swirling the egg and sugar mixture until at last I witnessed the ribbon stage with my own two eyes. 

From there, gentle going as I folded in the flour, salt, baking powder, and finally the whipped cream. As nerve wracking as it is trying not to lose volume while mixing in, the thick glossiness of this particular batter calmed me, even as I added in the pear/pine nut/chocolate mixture. 

The cake in the oven, I proceeded to walk laps around the house for Battle of the Fandoms until the timer went off. 

Unlike many of the other recipes, there’s no massive post bake flourish to this cake. Once flipped out onto the cooling rack, you’re more or less done, save a quick dusting of powdered sugar. 

There’s something about a Bundt pan that makes cake look fancy and artistic even without the extra mile, in my opinion. Plus, when you slice into this cake, there’s an array of pear and chocolate to give it style. 

In all, I very much enjoyed this particular recipe. Some challenging techniques and unique combinations made it one of my favorites to date, and the cake came out pretty delicious, as well! 

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