A couple months ago I hosted a 1-day storytelling and photography workshop at Rye London alongside the incredibly talented Bea Lubas from Bea’s Cookbook. Rye is an incredibly beautiful studio space in the heart of Hackney in east London, and it’s run by Holly Wulff and her coordinator Erika Raxworthy, two incredibly talented photographers and stylists and very fun and kind people. I first met Holly when she attended my Sweden photography workshop a few years back, and was struck by not only what a talented photographer she was, but what a funny and sweet person she was, too. Bea and I spent the day prior cooking up a storm in her kitchen, including several beautiful pear cakes for shooting and a comforting roasted squash stew. Any crumbs that fell were immediately cleaned up by her adorable fluffy pup, Daisy, so clean-up was minimal! The day of the workshop, Holly and Erika helped us get everything set up at Rye and then all our incredibly attendees arrived. We had such a wonderful mix of people from all over the world, it was really moving to have so many people come from near and far to learn and nurture their passion for photography, styling, and the love of food.
We shot and styled the cakes on beautiful ceramic dishes from Kana London, a local ceramic artist just a few blocks away in east London. I got to visit the studio when I picked up the pieces and everyone there was so kind. It was also so hypnotizing to watch them forming the plates out of clay (they teach ceramic workshops there if you’re intrigued!) We also enjoyed some delicious Jing tea throughout the workshop and the kind folks at Jing sent each of our attendees home with a bag. They also each got to take home an *insanely* good-smelling candle from Earl of East, a local candlemaker who studio is actually right underneath Kana London’s! (I love how east London feels like a small town in the big city.) Each of their scents is inspired by a different location, and they really do transport you to another place in the most ethereal way. They also host candle-making workshops in their beautiful studio space, which I highly recommend checking out if you’re ever in London.
For lunch we had the roasted squash stew (thanks to Derek from Wicked Healthy for lending a hand with heating it back up!), a delicious apple and winter green salad that Bea made, and some *super* delicious rustic bread that Erika picked up from a bakery down the street. After that we went over editing in Adobe Lightroom, and then had a little bit of a discussion about the business side of photography, blogging, and branding. It was a whirlwind of a day and so much fun, our attendees were all so kind and talented and I am so grateful for them coming to join us on this overcast London afternoon! Derek, Ana-Marija, Sandra, Sarah, Natasha, Shyamala, Pia, Amanda, Donna, and Louise, thank you guys *so* very much and I hope to see you all again soon!! And a huge thanks to Holly and Erika from Rye London for all of their help and for letting us host the workshop there; and a very deep thanks to Bea for co-hosting with me, welcoming me into her home for all the food prep, and helping me with absolutely everything. Miss you so much lady!!!
Pear and Lemon Mini-Cakes with a Brandy Glaze
Yield 4 5-inch cakes
These sunken pear cakes pairs the brightness of lemon with the comforting flavor of roasted pears, and they're topped with a delicious brandy glaze. The cake makes for a beautiful little package on its own, but is even prettier when you cut into it and the pear peeks out to say hello!
Pear Lemon Mini Cakes
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 cup creme fraiche
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 medium-sized bosc pears
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 1-3 tablespoons whole milk
- For the pear lemon cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and lightly flour 4 (5-inch) cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper and set them aside.
- Stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, and cardamom in a medium bowl and set it aside.
- Beat together the sugar and eggs in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at medium speed until pale yellow and silky. Add the creme fraiche, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and mix at low speed until combined. Add the flour mixture in two increments, mixing until just combined.
- Peel the pears and cut the bottom 1/2-inch off of them so that they have a flat bottom to stand upright on without falling over.
- Evenly distribute the batter between the four pans, spreading it with a spatula so that it touches the interior edges of each pan. Place a pear in the center of each pan, then place the pans in the oven and bake until the cakes are golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the cake near the pear comes out relatively clean, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes before running a butter knife around the edge of the pan, placing your hand over the top of the pan so that the pear pokes through between your ring and middle finger, and flipping the pan over to remove the cake, setting it on a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the brandy glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, brandy, and 1 tablespoon milk until smooth. If you want the glaze a bit thinner, add another tablespoon or two of milk and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the cooled cakes and serve.
Huge thanks to Bea Lubas for taking the beautiful photos below!