Pear Upside-down Cake from Hummingbird Bakery: Life is Sweet

Uncategorized | February 28, 2015 | By

Life is Sweet is the fourth book by Tarek Malouf, founder of The Hummingbird Bakery.  The Hummingbird Bakery was instrumental in popularising the sort of high quality bakes, loved by Americans, first  to London through the bakeries and then to the rest of the UK, through the books.  I already have a baking book from The Hummingbird Bakery, Cake Days,  but I am particularly pleased with this one, let me tell you a little about it.

Life is Sweet is organised into 10  chapters

Cakes, simple and more complex includes Gooey Butter Cake, 7Up Pound Cake, Molasses Pecan Crumb Cake, Chocolate Bundt Cake, Tunnel of Fudge Cake and Upside Down Pear Cake

Cupcakes both familiar and unusual including Banana Foster Cupcakes, Tomato Soup Cupcakes, Toasted Marshmallow Cupcakes, Honey Cornbread Cupcakes and Mint Julep Cupcakes.

Layer Cakes includes an indulgent Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake, Gingerbread Icebox Cake, Alabama Little Layer Cake, Red Velvet Crepe Cake and Appalachian Stack Cake.

Pies is full of very American Pies including, Lemon Chiffon Pie, Deep-fried Apple Pies, Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie, Vinegar Pie and New Orleans Prune Pie.

Cookies and Candies provides bite sized treats such as Soft Molasses Cookies, Black Pepper Cookies (on my list), Vanilla filled Chocolate Cookies, Lemon Drops, Turtle Cookies and Creamy Pecan Pralines.

Traybakes are one of my favourite bakes, how about Coconut Dream Bars, Red Velvet Brownies, Blackberry Limeade Bars and Texas Tassie Bars.

Pancakes are so easy to make and these lovely flavours are very tempting Black Bottom Pancakes, Pumpkin Pancakes, Cinnamon Pancake Cake and Sally Lunn French Toast.

Top your pies and pancakes with some lovely Ice Cream, Grasshopper Ice Cream, Earl Grey Tea and Chocolate Ice Cream, Fresh Peach Ice Cream and Lemon Custard Ice Cream.

Puddings to delight your sweet tooth include Praline Bread Pudding with Pecan Caramel Sauce, Brownie Pudding and White Chocolate Bread Pudding.

The final chapter features Bread and Savouries, Skillet Cornbread, Crawfish Pie, Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Loaf and Graham Crackers.

The book finishes up with some Baking Essentials about Ingredients, Equipment, Methods and Techniques.

Who is it for?
Pretty much anyone who likes baking and is looking for some different ideas to try.  It’s not aimed at beginner bakers, but if you follow the instructions there is no reason why a novice could not achieve good results.

Pros
A wide range of different bakes, each on a little out of the ordinary.  Good photographs which let you see what you are aiming for.
Cons
I can’t really think of any cons with this book, it is full of such good things.

The Verdict
I really was beginning to think I had enough baking books, that they were just full of the same sort of recipes, but this one really does have some exciting bakes in it, ones that I really want to bake.  So I give a hearty thumbs up to Life is Sweet and would urge you to go out and buy it.

I decided to make the Pear Upside Down Cake, the cake is a soft gingerbread with works so well with the caramelised pears, it works well as a cake and as a dessert.

Upside-Down Pear Cake
Makes one 23 x 32 cm (9 x 13 in) cake, to slice as desired

For the caramelised pears
6 large, ripe pears, peeled, cored ad quartered lengthways
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
40g (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
80g (3 oz) caster sugar
130ml (4 1/2 fl oz) Kentucky bourbon or whisky

For Cake
195g (7oz) plain flour
1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
160g (5 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
75g (2 1/2 oz) dark muscovado sugar
4 large eggs
170g (6 oz) pure cane molasses, such as Meridian
3 tbsp boiling water
1 q/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1. Preheat the oven to 175C (350C), Gas mark 4. Line the tin with non-stick baking parchment.
2. To make the caramelised pears, mix the pears with the lemon juice.  In a large frying pan, melt the butter and sprinkle with half the caster sugar. Put the pear quarters into the pan.  Cook for about 5 minutes until brown on one side.  Turn and cook for a further 5 minutes until the other side is brown.  With a slotted spoon, carefully remove the pear quarters and set aside to cool slightly.
3. Add the bourbon and the rest of the caster sugar to the pan and cook and stir frequently for about 5 minutes until the mixture becomes syrupy.  Pour this syrup into the baking tin and tip the tin to spread evenly over the bottom of the tin.
4. Start to arrange the pears from one corner so that they cover the bottom of the tin and are facing the same direction. Set aside.
5. To make the cake, sift together the flour, spices and salt in a bowl.
6. Using a freestanding electric mixer with paddle attachment or hand-held electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together for around 5 minutes on a medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time on a lower speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Only beat until just Incorporated.  Add the molasses and beat for a few moments longer to mix.
7. In a small bowl, add the boiling water to the bicarbonate of soda and set aside.  Add half the flour mixture to the creamed mixture on low speed.  then add the water and bicarbonate of soda and the rest of the flour mixture and mix until well Incorporated  It will look like the mixture has split, but that i correct.
8. Scrape the mixture into the tin on top of the arranged pears and bake for 25 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 165C (325F) Gas mark 3 and bake for 10-15 minutes longer.  The top should bounce bake when lightly touched.  Cool in the tin for 1 hour, then run a knife around the edges of the cake. Place a tray over the top of the tin and carefully(but quickly) turn upside down.

The resulting cake is rich and treacley but not too dense, the pears  add a lovely texture to the cake and are not too sweet.  A really delightful bake and I was thrilled with comments that my version looks just like the one in the book.

The Hummingbird Bakery – Life is Sweet
100 original recipes for happy home baking
Published by 4th Estate,  Harper Collins
RRP £20

I have one copy of Life is Sweet to giveaway, you can enter by following the instructions on the Rafflecopter Widget below (UK only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Like this content? Sign up for free updates.

117
Leave a Reply

avatar

100 Comment threads
17 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
Janice PattieAgnès GaillardNatalie Crossansarahboxlucyrobinson Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Scottish Mummy
Guest
Scottish Mummy

Janice, this looks like a beautiful book, thanks for this review. I agree that there are too many baking books, so I'm also looking for something a bit different, and this sounds fantastic. Gingerbread is one of my favourites and I love pears so I can't wait to try this recipe. Thank you.

JaniceFGK100
Guest

Thanks, the cake was a great succes.

Lauren aroundtheworldin80bakes.com
Guest

Too many to mention BUT at a push probably carrot or chocolate or lemon drizzle or fruit or banana or cheese cake 🙂

JaniceFGK100
Guest

Great choices

Keep Calm and Fanny On
Guest

Hard to choose just one, but I do love a very simple Cherry Cake! This pear cake looks lovely, as does the book, it's turned out just like theirs, lovely!

JaniceFGK100
Guest

Thanks, I was pleased with how it turned out.

zoe tcm
Guest
zoe tcm

I already have the hummingbird bakery cookbook which is great – especially love the oat & raisin cookie and peanutbutter cookie recipe. Liked your review and the book sounds really interesting, full of new ideas of things i'd like to bake. Thanks and good luck everyone! 🙂

zoe tcm
Guest
zoe tcm

Sorry didn't realise you had to say your favourite cake to make – the raffle copter widget is being funny on my phone. Not sure if my entry registered or not. Anyways, i love to make my triple-layer chocolate cake with caramel icing. Always a celebration cake winner! 🙂

JaniceFGK100
Guest

No problem. Only your comment has registered Zoe. Good luck.

kj19
Guest

Any.. I love cake so would be very hard to choose…

belleau kitchen
Guest

wow, now that is a most stunning cake!, it looks so dark and rich and I bet the combination of ginger and pear is superb. lovely review too Janice x

JaniceFGK100
Guest

Thanks Dom.

Paula
Guest
Paula

This book looks like another winner from hummingbird. In terms of a favourite bake, that's a hard one…Probably creme egg brownies which are 'in season' at the moment & always go down a storm when I make them!

JaniceFGK100
Guest

Too sweet for me, but I know they are popular. Good luck.

talesofpiglingbland
Guest
talesofpiglingbland

Good to see a recipe from another HummingBird book. Do you have Home Sweet home? Would you care to join our Bakealong? http://talesofpiglingbland.com/2015/02/28/home-sweet-home-bakealong-peach-cobbler-but-banana-and-chocolate/

JaniceFGK100
Guest

I'm afraid I don't have Home Sweet Home, Gill. just this one and Cake Days

talesofpiglingbland
Guest
talesofpiglingbland

I love a loaf cake. Simple and effective.

Choclette Blogger
Guest

Ahh, tomato soup cupcakes. I have heard of these before, but I'm not convinced – could be because I've never liked tinned tomato soup. Another good review Janice and as I don't have a Hummingbird book at all, I'm going to try my luck.

Hmmm, my favourite cake – well I can't really say anything else other than chocolate cake!

JaniceFGK100
Guest

Never had it in cupcakes, but I have tasted a large cake made with tomato soup, you can't taste the soupiness at all!

P Bennett
Guest
P Bennett

If all my attempts at baking came out as well as the one above then I'd never be out of the kitchen! As it is, I have to keep it simple (if I want it to be edible!) and so I stick to a simple weetabix loaf/cake, which is a bit like a tea loaf – a slice is really nice with some butter on and a cup of tea 🙂

JaniceFGK100
Guest

How kind, I do spend a lot of time in the kitchen! That Weetabix cake is good too.

Lynsey Buchanan
Guest
Lynsey Buchanan

Chocolate Fudge Cake

JaniceFGK100
Guest

Delicious

Emma Nixon
Guest

My fav cake is a Victoria sponge with lashings of cream and fresh strawberries

khester
Guest
khester

Banana Loaf Cake is my favourite to make, easy to do and can be eaten anywhere at anytime!

laura banks
Guest

i love all cakes but carrot is prob my favourite

Catherine Reynolds
Guest

I love cherry tart. Especially the ones with Sour cherries! 🙂

jen morgan
Guest
jen morgan

Carrot Cake is my fav its lovely

Kim Woolley
Guest
Kim Woolley

Ginger cake from Imperial War Museum cook book….it's amazing!

A Elansary
Guest
A Elansary

White chocolate cheese cake

Samantha Wheeler
Guest
Samantha Wheeler

Fruit Cake

Laura Asplin
Guest
Laura Asplin

Carrot Cake

Tracy K Nixon
Guest

I love a coffee and walnut cake!

Kallie Maile
Guest
Kallie Maile

I love lemon drizzle cake, but any cake is good!

winnie
Guest
winnie

banana and walnut cake

PlastigFfantastig
Guest
PlastigFfantastig

Probably carrot cake x

Suzanne
Guest
Suzanne

Lemon drizzle cake

Danielle
Guest
Danielle

My favourite cake is probably a good Victoria sponge… can't beat it!

Jemma Bond
Guest
Jemma Bond

I love carrot cake and I love making trifle cupcakes from The Hummingbird Bakery's last book!

JaniceFGK100
Guest

Which book was that Jemma?

Angel
Guest
Angel

Sticky ginger cake

Aefio64
Guest

Coconut fairy cakes

glenka
Guest
glenka

Victoria sponge cake.

Kelly glen.

Tracey Peach
Guest

Chocolate Cake xxx

Kim Neville
Guest
Kim Neville

Chocolate cake

Amy
Guest
Amy

It would have to be a good old Victoria Sponge or an indulgent carrot cake topped with a thick layer of smooth soft cheese icing!

Nazima Pathan
Guest
Nazima Pathan

oooh that looks totally delicious! love the hummingbird bakery

Amanda Walsh
Guest
Amanda Walsh

Pineapple upside downcake

Nikki Stewart
Guest
Nikki Stewart

Carrot cake is my favourite x

sadia iqbal
Guest
sadia iqbal

Oh too many, but my favourite ones are something with a little cinnamon or ginger in them.
A classic carrot cake made with honey!

Bintu Hardy
Guest

I am a big fan of their red velvet cupcakes so I reckon I would like this.

JaniceFGK100
Guest

There are a lot of new red velvet variations in the book Bintu

mummy24
Guest
mummy24

Carrot Cake!

AShleigh

beckyi
Guest
beckyi

Lemon drizzle

Claire Blaney
Guest
Claire Blaney

Cheesecake is my fave x

fozia Akhtar
Guest
fozia Akhtar

chocolate, chocolate and chocolate. Did I mention chocolate?!

JaniceFGK100
Guest

Was that chocolate for you then? 😉

Louise A
Guest
Louise A

Love fruit cake

Nayna Kanabar
Guest

This cake looks amazing I love the way the pears are arranged. My fav cake has to be chocolate fudge cake.

JaniceFGK100
Guest

Thank you, it really wasn't difficult at all and very effective. Chocolate fudge sounds good.

AliceMegan
Guest
AliceMegan

Lemon drizzle cake!

suzanne brzeski
Guest
suzanne brzeski

i love carrot and ginger cake that i have made from the hummingbird cake days book- so moist and tasty….not seen this new book that is in the giveaway….but would be a lovely addition to my collection.

JaniceFGK100
Guest

Must have a look for that one Suzanne, I have a copy of Cake Days

Lisa Auger
Guest
Lisa Auger

Has to be a (good) carrot cake

Sarah Griffiths
Guest
Sarah Griffiths

Either lemon drizzle or my mother in laws high tea cake

Share14
Pin2
+1
Tweet
Flip
Yum