I don’t know if I can put my finger on it, but there is just something so comforting about gingerbread, especially when it is warm, straight out of the oven. The smell, the taste, that sweetness and unmatchable kick of flavour. Such a perfect dish to explore breakfast with.
When I think back to fond memories of breakfast, comfort felt like knowing you were the first one out of bed and starting to heat water to bring your family tea in bed. I can just imagine with every sip, savouring the gingerbread taste. Not too sweet though, it has to have that perfect balance and the satisfaction that comes with baking a fresh loaf of bread for your loved ones, and that smell that lingers around the house all morning as you enjoy each others company.
Somewhere in between a cake and a loaf, something was needed to bring this breakfast to life. I have always been visually amazed by the presence of poached pears. I love their rustic feeling that invites you to cut open the loaf to take a peek at the shapes that unfold. Their little blackened stems poking up out of place, but intriguing at the same time. An unveiling that never disappoints with vanilla bean whipped cream.
Gingerbread Loaf with Spiced Poached Pears & Vanilla Bean Cream
Makes 1 loaf, serves 4
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour (all purpose flour)
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 orange peel
1 cup apricot nectar
1 bottle shiraz
1 bay leaf
4 pears, peeled, halved and seeds removed (slice off the bottom of the pear to allow it to sit flat. That way it won’t fall over in the batter)
Vanilla Bean Cream
300ml thickened cream
1 vanilla bean
In a large saucepan, add the orange peel, apricot nectar, shiraz, cloves and bay leaves. Then carefully place in the pears. Using baking paper, but a circular lid to cover the pears. Place this onto of the liquid. It will ensure that the pears stay submerged in the liquid.
Bring to the boil, then simmer for 25-30 mins. Pears should be soft (but not overly soft) and have taken up the colour of the liquid. Remove and allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). In a saucepan, melt the butter and syrups together over a medium heat. Using an electric mixer, cream together eggs and sugar. Add the butter and syrup mixture and combine. Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl, (flour, all spice, ginger, cinnamon and baking powder). Slowly add the dry sifted ingredients into the mixture bowl, string constantly. Once fully combined, all a small amount of milk at a time until smooth and combined.
Line a loaf tin. Dust a small amount of flour onto the bottom 1/3 of 4 poached pears. Sit the pears into the loaf pan evenly. Carefully spoon in the loaf batter, ensuring it is evenly spread throughout the pan.
Bake for 60 minutes. Poke a skewer right beside to pear to test if it is cooked. If it doesn’t come out clean, reduce the oven temperature to 160 C (320 F) and cook for a further 10 mins or until cooked*.
Keep the remainder of the pears in the fridge until ready to serve.
In a bowl, whip the cream and vanilla bean together with a whisk until it comes fluffy and silky peaks form. Rest in the fridge until ready to serve.
Serve the loaf warm with a dollop of cream. Serve the remainder of the pears if desired.
***love note: if you are finding the loaf isn’t fully cooking around the pears, a trick is to turn the oven onto very low heat and place some tin foil over the loaf, and check every 15 mins until cooked.
If baking the loaf without the pears, the loaf should take around 40-45 mins at 180 C (350 F).