Introduction: Candied Pear Slices for Cake Decorations
Dyed pear slices are great for cake decorating, they are easy to make and don't require any advanced baking skills. The end result is unique and stylish. The choice is yours if you dye all slices the same colour, use different gradients to create an ombre effect or go for a rainbow version.
- white granulated sugar
- pears (they have to be hard, preferably with 'ripen at home' label; larger pears are better than smaller ones and straight rather than curved)
- food dye(s) :
- if using artificial ones, only use gel food dye ( (cheaper, liquid dyes won't work, they will burn)
- or try natural dyes like butterfly pea (for blue and purple) or raw beetroot juice (pink and red)
- mandoline slicer, non- stick baking paper or silicone baking mat, disposable kitchen towels
Step 1: Slicing and Sugar Syrup
- Start by slicing your pears to about 1.5-2 mm thickness using a knife and some incredible ninja skills or simply go with a mandoline.
- You have to slice a pear in half and then slowly and carefully slice it with the mandoline until you can no longer see the core. Don't bother slicing all the way through to the end, the beauty here lays in having the core visible.
- 4 large pears yield about 30-40 slices which should be enough for a small sized cake. But it's always better to make more just in case.
- Once all pears are sliced, you are ready to make sugar syrup. Place water and sugar in a heavy bottomed, wide pan and bring it to a boil. Once sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat to medium and get ready to add food colouring.
General rule of thumb for sugar syrup is: 1 part sugar to 2 parts water (in weight). So, use 250g sugar and 500g water or 400g sugar and 800g water and so on... If you don't have a kitchen scale, you can use measuring cups to determine the amounts. .
For example, 1 cup of sugar weighs 200g, so 250g equals 1 1/4 cup and therefore you will need 1 1/4 cup sugar + 2 1/2 cup water for your sugar syrup.
How much sugar syrup do you actually need?
That depends on how many colours you are making. For each colour you will need a separate syrup portion. For 4 pears and one colour I used 300g of sugar and 600g water. If I was using two separate colours I'd use 150g sugar and 300g water for each colour. If you are are using the same colour, but different gradients, you won't need separate syrup portions, you will simply add more dye to the syrup with each batch and go from light coloured pears to darker coloured ones.
Step 2: Food Dye
Once sugar syrup is ready, add your gel food colouring. I strongly recommend adding small amounts at first and doing a trial run with some leftover pear bits, to make sure the colour is to your liking.
Step 3: Cooking
Heat the pan over medium heat and add pear slices, don't crowd the pan, you have to work in batches to prevent the pears from sticking and developing uneven patches. Cook for 8-10 min, until they gain colour, become a little bit more flexible as well as translucent.
Gently fish the slices with chopsticks or tongs and transfer them to a bowl of cold water. Cold water stops the cooking process, cools them down and allows you to handle them and rinses them. Don't keep them in cold water for more than few minutes, as soon as they are cold enough to handle by hand, transfer them onto kitchen towels and cover them with another layer of towels to dry them out.
Repeat until all slices are cooked.
Step 4: Baking/Dehydrating
Once all slices are cooked and patted dry, transfer them to a baking paper or silicone mat. Lay them flat and in a single layer. You will have to use more than one baking tray for this job.
Bake/ dehydrate them in the oven for 1-2 hours at 70 C. Leave them baking uninterrupted for 1 hour and after that check on the slices every 15-20 min to see if they are ready. You will know they are ready once they are crisp and there are no wet patches visible.
Leave them to cool down and if you are not using them straight away, you have to transfer them into an airtight food container.
Step 5: Decorating With Gold or Silver
Pear slices are pretty much good to go as they are, but you have an option to use some silver or gold edible powder to enhance them. You can dry brush the powder onto the slices to give them some sparkle.
You can also use gold/silver edible pen to outline each slice's skin. See last picture- first slice has a silver brushed outline, second slice is bare. It might not look like a lot of change, but details add up and in the end, it looks better and more polished.
To decorate a cake you need to stick them onto the sides in one or two layers, so your cake has to be covered in buttercream, cheese frosting or soft ganache.
Step 6: Happy Baking
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