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Saturday, 28 February 2015

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


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 Ā£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

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116 Comments:

At 28 February 2015 at 07:55 , Blogger Scottish Mummy said...

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.

 
At 28 February 2015 at 07:57 , Anonymous Lauren aroundtheworldin80bakes.com said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 08:21 , Blogger Keep Calm and Fanny On said...

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!

 
At 28 February 2015 at 08:56 , Blogger zoe tcm said...

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! :-)

 
At 28 February 2015 at 09:02 , Blogger zoe tcm said...

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! :-)

 
At 28 February 2015 at 09:07 , Blogger kj19 said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 09:44 , Blogger belleau kitchen said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 09:49 , Blogger Paula said...

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!

 
At 28 February 2015 at 10:45 , Blogger talesofpiglingbland said...

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/

 
At 28 February 2015 at 10:46 , Blogger talesofpiglingbland said...

I love a loaf cake. Simple and effective.

 
At 28 February 2015 at 10:47 , Blogger Choclette Blogger said...

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!

 
At 28 February 2015 at 11:18 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

Thanks, the cake was a great succes.

 
At 28 February 2015 at 11:18 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

Great choices

 
At 28 February 2015 at 11:19 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

Thanks, I was pleased with how it turned out.

 
At 28 February 2015 at 11:22 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 11:23 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

Thanks Dom.

 
At 28 February 2015 at 11:23 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 11:23 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 11:24 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 11:24 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 28 February 2015 at 12:42 , Blogger P Bennett said...

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 :)

 
At 28 February 2015 at 19:43 , Anonymous Lynsey Buchanan said...

Chocolate Fudge Cake

 
At 28 February 2015 at 19:44 , Blogger Emma Nixon said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 19:50 , Anonymous khester said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 19:58 , Blogger laura banks said...

i love all cakes but carrot is prob my favourite

 
At 28 February 2015 at 19:59 , Blogger Catherine Reynolds said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 20:04 , Anonymous jen morgan said...

Carrot Cake is my fav its lovely

 
At 28 February 2015 at 20:05 , Blogger Kim Woolley said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 20:14 , Blogger A Elansary said...

White chocolate cheese cake

 
At 28 February 2015 at 20:22 , Anonymous Samantha Wheeler said...

Fruit Cake

 
At 28 February 2015 at 20:27 , Blogger Laura Asplin said...

Carrot Cake

 
At 28 February 2015 at 20:30 , Blogger Tracy K Nixon said...

I love a coffee and walnut cake!

 
At 28 February 2015 at 20:33 , Blogger Kallie Maile said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 20:35 , Blogger winnie said...

banana and walnut cake

 
At 28 February 2015 at 20:43 , Blogger PlastigFfantastig said...

Probably carrot cake x

 
At 28 February 2015 at 20:47 , Anonymous Suzanne said...

Lemon drizzle cake

 
At 28 February 2015 at 20:54 , Blogger Danielle said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 20:57 , Anonymous Jemma Bond said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 21:13 , Blogger Angel said...

Sticky ginger cake

 
At 28 February 2015 at 21:14 , Anonymous Aefio64 said...

Coconut fairy cakes

 
At 28 February 2015 at 21:38 , Blogger glenka said...

Victoria sponge cake.

Kelly glen.

 
At 28 February 2015 at 22:00 , Blogger Tracey Peach said...

Chocolate Cake xxx

 
At 28 February 2015 at 22:11 , Blogger Kim Neville said...

Chocolate cake

 
At 28 February 2015 at 22:16 , Blogger Amy said...

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!

 
At 28 February 2015 at 22:23 , Blogger Nazima Pathan said...

oooh that looks totally delicious! love the hummingbird bakery

 
At 28 February 2015 at 22:38 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

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

 
At 28 February 2015 at 22:47 , Blogger Amanda Walsh said...

Pineapple upside downcake

 
At 28 February 2015 at 23:02 , Blogger Nikki Stewart said...

Carrot cake is my favourite x

 
At 1 March 2015 at 00:41 , Blogger sadia iqbal said...

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

 
At 1 March 2015 at 08:15 , Blogger Bintu Hardy said...

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

 
At 1 March 2015 at 09:38 , Blogger mummy24 said...

Carrot Cake!

AShleigh

 
At 1 March 2015 at 10:27 , Blogger beckyi said...

Lemon drizzle

 
At 1 March 2015 at 10:32 , Blogger Claire Blaney said...

Cheesecake is my fave x

 
At 1 March 2015 at 11:00 , Blogger fozia Akhtar said...

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

 
At 1 March 2015 at 11:05 , Blogger Louise A said...

Love fruit cake

 
At 1 March 2015 at 11:15 , Blogger Nayna Kanabar said...

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

 
At 1 March 2015 at 11:47 , Blogger AliceMegan said...

Lemon drizzle cake!

 
At 1 March 2015 at 12:30 , Anonymous suzanne brzeski said...

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.

 
At 1 March 2015 at 14:03 , Blogger Lisa Auger said...

Has to be a (good) carrot cake

 
At 1 March 2015 at 14:42 , Blogger Sarah Griffiths said...

Either lemon drizzle or my mother in laws high tea cake

 
At 1 March 2015 at 14:45 , Anonymous Vohn's Vittles said...

My favourite cake was always chocolate fudge cake but as I get older I am enjoying spices more and I'll bet this spiced cake smells amazing. The caramelised pears themselves sound fabulous, let alone added into the cake! Yours does look exactly like there one in the picture!

 
At 1 March 2015 at 15:45 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

Delicious

 
At 1 March 2015 at 15:45 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

Which book was that Jemma?

 
At 1 March 2015 at 15:46 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

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

 
At 1 March 2015 at 15:46 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

Was that chocolate for you then? ;-)

 
At 1 March 2015 at 15:47 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

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

 
At 1 March 2015 at 15:47 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

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

 
At 1 March 2015 at 15:48 , Blogger Janice Pattie said...

Thank you Vohn, yes the spices do add to the flavour and the pears were delish!

 
At 1 March 2015 at 17:06 , Blogger Kelly Koya said...

the red velvet cupcakes from the first hummingbird bakery book - really pleased to hear there is another new one out!

 
At 1 March 2015 at 20:19 , Blogger Jo m Welsh said...

Homemade Christmas cake the build up to eating is amazing the smells!!!

 
At 1 March 2015 at 20:45 , Blogger tinkertink2010 said...

So hard to choose! I do particularly love my coffee cake though! x

 
At 2 March 2015 at 08:42 , Blogger Stephanie Whitehouse said...

I only like fat free cakes, so real swiss roll, buns, scones, meringues. But please don't offer me gateaux

 
At 2 March 2015 at 10:22 , Blogger Sarah Pybus said...

I love Battenburg :)

 
At 2 March 2015 at 15:06 , Blogger angie mummy said...

I love making an apple cake

 
At 2 March 2015 at 15:47 , Blogger ray becker said...

dundee

 
At 2 March 2015 at 21:07 , Blogger Sarah Lee said...

I love carrot cake

 
At 3 March 2015 at 11:09 , Blogger dorsetsgem said...

coffee :D

 
At 4 March 2015 at 18:29 , Blogger miss leslieanne said...

My very favourite is a good old fashioned Victoria sponge - with fresh cream :)

 
At 4 March 2015 at 21:29 , Blogger Kat Lucas said...

German chocolate cake with pecan, coconut & caramel frosting

 
At 4 March 2015 at 23:29 , Blogger Caroline said...

If it's made really well, I think my favourite is Victoria Sponge.

 
At 9 March 2015 at 14:57 , Blogger kasza said...

Double chocolate sponge cake

 
At 10 March 2015 at 18:59 , Blogger Stephanie Griffiths said...

I love cake its so hard to choose a favorite , but would have to go with either chocolate fudge cake or coffee and walnut cake

 
At 12 March 2015 at 21:04 , Anonymous Rachael Pilkington said...

I like red velvet cake

 
At 13 March 2015 at 17:57 , Blogger Pamela Mair said...

Chocolate cake is my go-to choice but that pear upside down cake looks delicious!

 
At 13 March 2015 at 19:18 , Anonymous Julie M said...

Tough question, as I'm easily pleased when it comes to cake. Carrot cake.

 
At 14 March 2015 at 23:49 , Blogger LESLEY BRADLEY said...

Something rich,chocolatey and gooey!

 
At 15 March 2015 at 20:21 , Blogger Christine Dodd said...

Ginger cake

 
At 17 March 2015 at 05:53 , Blogger Heather Haigh said...

Chocolate olive oil cake

 
At 19 March 2015 at 18:22 , Blogger Jackie ONeill said...

Lemon Drizzle

 
At 20 March 2015 at 04:13 , Anonymous Solange said...

Chocolate

 
At 21 March 2015 at 14:27 , Blogger Esme Mccrubb said...

whatever one is on my fork :) I love coffee cake best though

 
At 21 March 2015 at 19:36 , Blogger weir shane said...

i love the oat & raisin cookie and peanutbutter cookie recipe - leanne w

 
At 21 March 2015 at 21:31 , Blogger Bryony Brooke said...

I can't resist lemon drizzle cake! I made a lime drizzle cake the other day and it was scrumptious!

 
At 22 March 2015 at 13:45 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cherry & Almond like my Mum used to bake

Celia West

 
At 23 March 2015 at 10:46 , Blogger Emilie Curry said...

Carrot Cake

 
At 23 March 2015 at 22:03 , Anonymous emily fraser said...

Victoria sponge :)

 
At 24 March 2015 at 12:24 , Blogger Andrew Hindley said...

Fruit Cake

 
At 24 March 2015 at 21:18 , Anonymous Aimee Wright said...

I can't choose! I love cake! :)

 
At 25 March 2015 at 09:08 , Blogger WeeWillieWilkie said...

Parkin :)

 
At 25 March 2015 at 09:32 , Blogger Emily Knight said...

I do love a good carrot cake! :)

 
At 25 March 2015 at 11:22 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Free cake

 
At 25 March 2015 at 11:30 , Blogger Hi Samantha Sugden here said...

Chocolate Fudge Cake

 
At 25 March 2015 at 16:22 , Blogger snarepuss said...

brownie :)

 
At 25 March 2015 at 18:11 , Blogger Ser said...

Battenburg Cake

 
At 25 March 2015 at 19:16 , Blogger Kay Bee said...

Chocolate Fudge cake

 
At 25 March 2015 at 19:20 , Blogger jade said...

Chocolate cake

 
At 25 March 2015 at 21:55 , Blogger Patricia Avery said...

Grandma's rough cake, a family recipe that has been passed down at least 4 generations :)

 
At 25 March 2015 at 22:06 , Blogger JamesDonovan said...

Any type of Cheesecake

 
At 25 March 2015 at 22:21 , Blogger Katie Witherington said...

Since I have had an operation on my stomach I prefer cakes with abit of sour taste esp lemon drizzle

 
At 26 March 2015 at 06:11 , Blogger helen said...

I love carrot cake,

 
At 26 March 2015 at 08:19 , Blogger Susan said...

I love Coffee cake

 
At 26 March 2015 at 09:33 , Blogger The Bargainista said...

I love a good old chocolate cake

 
At 26 March 2015 at 17:09 , Blogger Alison Barker said...

Carrot cake .

 
At 26 March 2015 at 21:15 , Blogger lucyrobinson said...

chocolate cake. x

 
At 26 March 2015 at 22:41 , Blogger sarahbox said...

Raspberry and almond.

 
At 27 March 2015 at 22:46 , Blogger Natalie Crossan said...

Chocolate cake x

 

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I love to read your comments and try to reply when I can. I have had to enable comment moderation due to high levels of spam, so it may take a little time before your comment is visible. Please let me know if you make one of my recipes or if you have any questions I will try to answer them. Janice

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