Julia Busuttil Nishimura has gained a strong and loyal following for her generous, uncomplicated, seasonal food. Her interpretations of dishes from Italy and the Mediterranean feel both timelessly familiar and altogether fresh and new. This is modern Australian eating with respect for the past. Her recent cookbook Ostro: The Pleasure That Comes from Slowing Down and Cooking with Simple Ingredients (Pan Macmillan) offers the best of her Mediterranean creations. Hence Ostro, which is a southerly wind in the Mediterranean Sea, especially the Adriatic. This delicious Pear and Date Cake with Maple Buttercream should take care of those fading New Year’s resolutions pretty quick smart!
This is a comforting cake – one for days when being at home with a slice of cake and a cup of tea is the best place to be. The maple buttercream complements the cake’s caramel notes perfectly.Some extra maple syrup drizzled over the cake just before serving is the finishing touch. The cake can be made in a round or square cake tin, too; however, this will require a slightly longer cooking time.
100 g pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
60 ml (1/4 cup) boiling water
100 g unsalted butter, softened
125 g ( cup, lightly packed)
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
150 g plain yoghurt
nely grated zest of 1 lemon
200 g (1 cup) self-raising flour
1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger
2 pears (about 400 g in total),
peeled, cored and roughly chopped
maple syrup, for drizzling
50 g unsalted butter, softened
90 g (3/4 cup) icing sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 24 cm loaf tin with butter and line with baking paper.
Mix the dates in a small bowl and sprinkle with the bicarbonate of soda. Cover with the water and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Mix in the olive oil, yoghurt, lemon zest and the dates and soaking water. Sift in the our and ground ginger, stirring until just combined. Gently stir in the pear and spoon the batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 45–50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
For the maple buttercream, beat the butter and icing sugar together in a bowl until pale and uy. Slowly drizzle in the maple syrup and continue beating until combined.
Spread the buttercream over the cooled cake and drizzle a little maple syrup over the top to finish.