Shiraz gin and pear brioche cake with gin ice-cream

This recipe calls for a pear poaching syrup made with shiraz gin that flavours and colours the pears, but doubles as the base for the accompanying ice-cream.
Cake with a slice cut out of it, topped with slices of pear, chopped pistachios, blackberries, and gin ice cream.

When going pear-shaped is a good thing.

Ben Dearnley
1H 15M
1H 30M

Got some time on your hands and friends to impress? This is the cake for you. With shiraz gin poached pears, this slightly savoury brioche cake is a showstopper. Begin this recipe a day or so before serving to ensure your shiraz gin ice-cream is fully frozen.


Brioche cake
Poached pears
Gin ice-cream


1.For poached pears, place 250ml water, gin, sugar and juniper berries in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium, add blackberries and cook until syrup is infused and a deeper red (10 minutes). Meanwhile, peel, halve and core pears with a melon baller, leaving stalks intact. Add pears to the syrup, cover with a cartouche and plate to keep submerged. Reduce heat to low-medium; cook until pears are tender and stained a pinky red (20 minutes); remove pan from heat and cool pears in syrup. Transfer pears cut-side up to a container, then pour over 125ml syrup. Refrigerate until required. Strain syrup and reserve for ice-cream; discard blackberries.
2.For ice-cream, gradually stir 250ml syrup into mascarpone until smooth, then stir in gin. Transfer to a 1-litre container, cover and freeze (8 hours or overnight).
3.For brioche, combine yeast, 60ml warm water and 1 tbsp of the caster sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer; stand in a warm place for 10 minutes or until mixture is frothy. Sift flour, salt, cardamom and remaining caster sugar over the yeast mixture and add eggs. Knead using the dough hook and a stand mixer until dough is smooth and elastic (10 minutes). With the motor running, add butter, several small pieces at a time, kneading well after each addition, until all the butter is incorporated, and dough is smooth and glossy. Place dough in a large bowl; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
4.Grease a 26cm-diameter loose-based fluted tart tin (or springform tin) and line base and side with baking paper. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and press out into a 26cm round. Combine pepitas, pistachio nuts and demerara sugar; sprinkle half the mixture over the base of the pan. Place brioche round in tin, pressing if necessary, to fit the tin evenly. Sprinkle over half the remaining nut mixture.
5.Drain pears, reserving syrup in a small saucepan. Keeping slices together, cut pear halves widthways into 3mm-thick slices stopping at the neck of the pear. Arrange each pear half, cut-side down over brioche. Fill gaps with half the remaining nut mix. Cover with a greased piece of plastic wrap and prove for 1 hour.
6.Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200°C.Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven to 180°C; bake for a further 30 minutes or until brioche is golden and sounds hollow when tapped.
7.Simmer reserved syrup in pan until syrupy (5 minutes). Serve warm or room temperature brioche, topped with remaining nut mix, extra blackberries, drizzled with syrup and scoops of gin ice-cream.

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