Auguest 2018: Simon Swadling

French Toast with Red Wine Pears

I’ve always loved breakfast, and French toast was actually one of the first things I started making and teaching myself. It’s probably the start of me really getting into food and it becoming my passion – I loved making making either savoury style (parsley and parmesan with bacon) or the more traditional sweet one.

My love of breakfast foods has ended up becoming a family tradition that on long weekends or holidays we will often start off with a fancy brunch/breakfast made by me. This French toast recipe is what I came up with for Mothers day this year, as sweet French toast is my mum’s favourite breakfast. It has some autumnal vibes with the maple and mulled wine flavours, but really the base recipe of the French toast can be paired with any number of different things, so feel free to go off script and try something different!

French Toast with Red Wine Pears



For the French toast

  • Loaf of Brioche bread (the batter will do enough for 4 large slices)*
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 3/4 cup full cream milk
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
  • Zest of half an orange

For the poached pears

  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 small Corello pears**
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the maple mascarpone

  • 1 tub (250g) mascarpone
  • Maple syrup, to taste
  • Dry meringue pieces
  • Fresh raspberries, or any other berries that you like

*If your brioche bread hasn’t been pre-cut (which is ideal), then cut the brioche into thick rectangular pieces. This means that you’ll get a crispy outside, custardy outer layer, and still some fluffy brioche in the middle.

**If you can’t get your hands on the small pears, use 2 large pears and serve each slice with half a pear instead.


  1. Poached Pears: Combine all the ingredients for the poached pears into a medium-sized saucepan. If the pears aren’t fully covered, then ensure to turn them around every few minutes to get an even colour and even cooking all around. Timing will depend on the ripeness of the pears so simmer until soft when tested with a knife.
  2. Remove the pears, and continue to boil down the poaching liquid until reduced to a syrup-like texture. You may prepare the pears the day before and then warm them through before serving.
  3. Maple Mascarpone: Mix the mascarpone in a bowl to soften and then add about a tablespoon of maple syrup. Adjust to your own personal liking. Set aside in the fridge.
  4. French Toast: Add all the ingredients, except the brioche bread in a shallow dish and mix well until combined.
  5. Heat up a medium-sized frying pan with a knob of butter and a bit of oil on medium heat.
  6. Dip the brioche slice in the egg mixture on each side and allow it to soak a little.
  7. Fry the slice on each side until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat for the remaining slices.
  8. Assemble: Cut the pears in half. Place the French toast on a plate with the pears on top. Crumble the meringue over and serve with fresh raspberries, and a scoop of the maple mascarpone.
  9. Finally, drizzle over a bit of the poaching syrup from the pears and enjoy!

French Toast with Red Wine Pears

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2018 | thebeardedpatissier

– Simon (The Bearded Patissier)

Pear & Walnut Cake with Spiced Red Wine Pears

Pear & Walnut Cake with Spiced Red Wine Pears

Hello Everyone! I’ve got a special post for you this evening as today marks 4 years of Amcarmen’s Kitchen! Don’t worry, I’ll still post a Breakfast Smoothie Bowl up for you guys most probably towards the end of the week since I already had the post and pictures prepared for it.

Anyway, technically I started this blog on April 16th, but it wasn’t until 2 days after on the 18th that I posted my very first recipe! You can check it out here: Cheesy Mushroom Omelette with Avocado Mint Greek Yoghurt & Wilted Spinach. Yes, you could say I was less talkative (wordy) for my first few posts, mainly because I had no clue on what else I could write about. When I started this blog out of pure procrastination way back in 2014 during my uni mid-semester break, I didn’t think I would be able to make it this far to be honest! I did slack behind a bit (a lot) towards the end of last year as it wasn’t easy juggling both a very demanding job, this blog, time for family and friends, and wanting some free time to myself as well. I have been doing a better job at keeping up so far, but it’s too early to tell to be honest, since I only just started getting back into this last month.

Pear & Walnut Cake with Spiced Red Wine Pears

I want to say that I promise that I will try to do better this year, but even I know that that’s a promise that I won’t be able to keep, so bear with me my dear followers! I know it is not in any way an obligation for me to share with you guys every single week, but I feel a sense of accomplishment for when I do so, and I don’t ever want this blog to drift away. It’s the only passion that I have going on for me right now because of my busy work schedule, and I don’t want all the hard work I’ve put into this blog for the past now coming 4 years to just become all for nothing.

With that being said, tonight I will be sharing a recipe that I tackled last November actually… For my 26th birthday! I never got around to posting it, and since I literally just got back from Hong Kong last night and had to report straight to work this morning, I’ve had no time to bake a new cake to celebrate Amcarmen’s Kitchen turning 4. So here’s my Pear & Walnut Cake that I drew inspiration from Olivia over on Liv for Cake. The cake itself was moist, not too sweet and had a lovely texture from the soft pear chunks and crunchy toasted walnuts. The honey buttercream was light and fluffy, beautifully contrasted by the deep red pears sitting atop a white-frosted cake.

(Apologies for not having an ingredient shot like how I normally do for almost all my recipe posts, but the photo didn’t turn out so great so I just decided not to post it)



For the pear and walnut cake

  • 2 & 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped (plus extra to top)
  • 180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large free range eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 large pears, peeled, cored, and coarsely shredded
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the honey Swiss meringue buttercream

  • 4 large free range eggs, whites only
  • 360g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey

Optional: for the spiced red wine poached pears to top


  1. Spiced Red Wine Poached Pears: Follow the recipe method provided in the link above.
  2. Pear and Walnut Cake: Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Grease and flour two 8-inch cake rounds and line with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the plain flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  4. Next, using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes pale and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes). Reduce the speed and add the eggs in one at a time to allow to fully incorporate after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk altogether). Make sure to fully incorporate after each addition. Then, gently fold in the toasted walnuts and shredded pears, and divide the mixture evenly between the two pans.
  6. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of both cakes come out mostly clean. Place the cakes on wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes and then turn out onto the wire rack to cool further.
  7. Honey Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Place the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk until combined.* Place the bowl over a double boiler on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to the touch (approximately 3 minutes), or until it registers 70C/160F on a candy thermometre.
  8. Place the bowl back on your stand mixer and whisk on medium-high speed until the meringue is stiff and has cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approximately 5 to 10 minutes).
  9. Switch to a paddle attachment and slowly add in the butter (cubed). Mix until smooth.** Add the honey and whip until smooth. Set aside.
  10. Assembly: Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with approximately 1 cup of the buttercream and repeat with the remaining layer. Crumb coat the cake and place in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes.
  11. Continue to frost the top and sides of the cake in a rustic manner. If desired, add toasted walnuts along the bottom and top, and place the poached pears on top. Secure pears in place with toothpicks and drizzle with the poaching syrup.
  12. Serve and enjoy!

* Ensure that there are NO traces of egg yolks in your whites and that your mixer bowl and whisk is completely grease free or your meringue won’t stiffen.

** The buttercream may look like it’s curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth.

Pear & Walnut Cake with Spiced Red Wine Pears


– Ally xx