Tag Archives: fruit

That Autumnal Feeling: Pear, Chocolate and Nut Cake

Good evening lovely readers!

Today has made me feel really ready for autumn – a long wet dog walk followed by some steaming tomato soup to warm up! This was followed by an afternoon of clearing out the baking cupboard, which turned up an abundance of nuts that needing using up. So using a recipe from the BBC GoodFood magazine, and adapting it to what was in the kitchen cupboards, here’s a nice seasonal cake that packs a punch of autumn-y flavours.

I have two things to apologise for. Firstly, although this cake is lovely and moist and will keep for a few days because of all the nuts, it does have rather a lot of ingredients though so you will need to be prepared! Secondly, I discovered Instagram this week (behind the times I know!) so the blog is getting even more retro!

Here’s what you need…..

All the things you’ll need for a nice pear cake

INGREDIENTS: 250g melted butter, 250g caster sugar, 100g self raising flour, 50g plain flour, 100g ground almonds, 1tsp baking powder, 2tsp mixed spice, 1tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 200g mixed chop nuts (I used 50g each of walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios all whizzed up in the food processor), 100g chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips, 3 large eggs, 1tsp almond extract, a tin of pears, butterscotch chips (optional).

  • Heat the oven to 160 (fan oven) and butter and line a 23cm loose based cake tin (this is really important because this is a slow bake and will burn at the edges without lining the tin).
  • Mix the sugar, flours, ground almonds, baking powder and spices in a bowl, then add in most of the nuts (leave a few tablespoons aside for topping the cake later) and the chopped chocolate.
  • In another bowl, whisk the eggs, almond extract and melted butter until it thickens and foams.

 

Wet and dry ingredients in two bowls – ready for some mixing!

  • Tip the wet ingredients into the dry and stir together. At this point I got a bit excited about all the things that could go into this cake and threw in a handful of butterscotch chips, but these are an added extra only and not vital.
  • Chop the pears into chunks and fold through the cake mixture. You can use fresh pears if you want, but the ones in the tin are very soft and add a good moist texture to the cake. So if you are going to use fresh pears, make sure they are really ripe.

Ready to bake!

  • Pop the mixture into a tin and bake for 45 minutes. Then cover the tin with tinfoil and bake for another 30 minutes.
  • Take out the oven, leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin and then turn out onto a rack.

It should look golden but not too coloured….

Lovely and golden – cooled and ready for icing!

Once its cooled, you’re ready for icing.

INGREDIENTS: You’ll need 200g chocolate (I used 150g milk and 50g dark), a 300ml pot of sour cream and the leftover nuts.

  • Melt the chocolate slowly – I did it in bursts in the microwave but you can do it in a bowl over a pan of water if you prefer.
  • Mix the sour cream into the chocolate and beat until smooth.
  • Then pop the bowl of icing into the fridge until it thickens up enough to spread without flying everywhere. I was too impatient so my icing was a little runny. You could even leave it in the fridge overnight and spread it the next day.
  • Once iced, just sprinkle with the remaining nuts, et voila!

The finished product! Rich and full of flavour.

As well as being a great teatime treat, this would make a great dessert. In fact, that’s what we had for pudding this evening – still warm with runny icing and a blob of natural yoghurt….

A slice of cake heaven…

So rather than being sad at the passing of summer (did it even make an appearance?!), let us celebrate the start of autumn!

Happy baking my friends,

BB x

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Pedal Power!!: Flapjacks on the Move

Good evening my fellow bakers! Autumn has more definitely arrived here in Edinburgh, although we’ve been lucky enough to have some glorious autumn sun the last few days – long may it last! At least autumn heralds the return of comfort food – and baking!

While I’ve pottered about the house the last two days, Mr. Bandit has been pedalling around the north of England. Before he went on his merry way, I made some flapjacks for all the boys taking part, to keep them going as they cycled along. These are utterly delicious sweet treats for any time, but have the added bonus of the slow-release energy of the oats, dried fruit and nuts, and are quite robust – a good thing in a cycling jacket pocket! This recipe has been modified from the BBC Goodfood website:

You will need: 140g unsalted butter, 120g soft brown sugar, 3tbsp of golden syrup (or honey if you prefer), 175g porridge oats, 75g pistachios (shelled and unsalted), 140g dried apricots chopped into little pieces, packet of white chocolate drops (from the baking section of the supermarket – you can use buttons or half a bar of white chocolate if that’s easier).

  • Start by melting the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan. Keep the heat low and make sure that the sugar is totally disolved. Don’t let it start bubbling or you’ll end up with a very sticky pan!
  • While that’s going on, chop up the nuts and mix with all the other ingredients in a heatproof bowl. It looks lovely even like this!

Doesn’t it look healthy and pretty?! This is before all the butter and sugar….

  • Once the mixture in the pan is completely melted, let is cool a little, then pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients. It’ll be very stiff, but make sure it’s all mixed in properly.
  • Then spoon into a lined 20x20cm tin, and flatten with the back of a spoon. Pop in the oven at 140/160 degrees for 35 minutes.
  • When you take it out the oven it will be runny, so don’t try and take it out the tin. Leave it to cool completely, then remove from the tin and cut into pieces. I went for nine good-sized portions.

Make sure its cold before removing from the tin, or you’ll have a very sloppy mess! It hardens quite quickly. Line the tin well so that you’re not scrubbing burnt sugar off your pans – who wants to be doing that?!

These are quite sweet, and would be just as nice without the white chocolate if you prefer something less tooth-decay inducing! If you leave out the chocolate, up the sugar a little bit to 140g.

I also made some bourbon biscuits (so much better than shop bought!) which would be equally good for an energy boosting snack on the move. Don’t they look scrummy?

Chocolate buttercream filled bourbon biscuits. Delicious!

My next baking experiment will be a biggy – its my grandma’s 80th birthday and I’m making the birthday cake! I feel I better do a test run, so I’m going to use it as an excuse to make a scaled-down version of the lemon wedding cake I want to use. Two birds…one stone… you get the idea! So cross your spoons and wish me luck!

BB x