The leaves are turning, the mornings are misty and the season of mellow fruitfulness has definitely arrived. There are apples aplenty here in the New Forest and apple cake is an autumnal essential bake. For Bonfire Night last year, I reckon I created my best ever. It’s a toffee apple hazelnut cake and is just perfect for this time of year.
Blood oranges have such a short season, I feel it’s imperative to make the most of them. They have a wonderful flavour and are not overly sugary like some oranges can be. They also have a gorgeous blood red colour. The colour is lost in this bloody orange chocolate cake, but the flavour is there.
I have a new piece of Froothie equipment to play with. It’s an Optimum HealthyFry – a rapid air fryer that can bake cakes too. Who’d have thought it? I have used it for frying of course, but I couldn’t wait to try baking a cake in it. With my promise to bring you all things vegan this month, I have created this rich and fudgy chocolate banana cashew cake. Ladies and Gentleman, forget the banoffee, I give you banashew.
This time last week, I was enjoying wonderful views of Falmouth harbour from my bedroom window. The skies were blue, I was with good friends and the kitchen table sported an almond apple cider cake.
Our local cafe, Olive & Co, does a mean coffee cardamom chocolate cake. It’s more of a torte really as it contains no flour. I’ve been wanting to try making something similar for ages and with the arrival of the new Divine chocolate baking bars, the time seemed right to give it a go. I give you my coffee cardamom chocolate mousse cake.
Remarkable rhubarb cake may seem a bit of a lofty claim, but this bake is so easy to make and tastes so good that I made it twice in quick succession. It’s a great way to use rhubarb, which is in season right now and it’s delightful both eaten warm as a pudding or enjoyed for afternoon tea.
Easter just isn’t Easter without a suitable bake. And as far as I’m concerned it’s all the better for the inclusion of chocolate. So, with that in mind, I wish you all a very Happy chocolate filled Easter and hope you enjoy my Simnel Mincemeat Easter Cake with chocolate apostles.
Another book that passed briefly through my hands recently was Miranda Gore Browne’s Bake Me a Cake as Fast as You Can. It has lots of easy to bake cakes which all sound quite delicious, but the one that caught my eye was Brighton Cake. It’s a very old fashioned and simple cake where you rub the butter into the flour rather than creaming it. A bit of nostalgia crept in when I saw it and a burning need to use up some very old jars of jam.
For years I’ve raged against the invasion of the very American Halloween and associated trick or treating; in the UK, we have All Hallows Eve, from which Halloween is derived. Just five days later we have our very own Guy Fawkes Night, with its pagan effigy burning associations – OK Guy Fawkes was a catholic, but never mind. Well, finally I’ve come to the conclusion that if you can’t beat them you’d better join them! In fact I had no choice as this month’s We Should Cocoa theme is Halloween.
Harvest festival meets Random Recipes meets Clandestine Cake Club in this post. As we had a hard challenge for August, Dom has gone easy on us this month and it’s back to the basics of picking a random book from our collection and then a random recipe from that book. I used my usual Eat Your Books method of selection and came up with a recipe for a simple chocolate pear upside-down cake in Jennifer Donovan’s book Chocolate. Happily this pick coincided with a Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club gathering on Thursday where the theme was harvest festival. And to tie it all together in a nice little bundle, my mother turned up with a jar of pears that she’d just poached. All sorted.
I had to add my own twist of course, so apart from using poached pears rather than raw ones, I substituted the vanilla for cardamom. The cake was fudgy and chocolatey, but the cardamom and pear stopped it being too sweet and sickly. It was in fact a delicious cake I will be repeating and the good folk at cake club seemed to enjoy it.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Pear Cardamom Upside-Down Cake
- Melted 200g butter with 200g of dark 70% chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat.
- Stirred in 150g cardamom sugar (golden caster sugar) and left to cool a little.
- Beat in three duck eggs (large hens eggs will be fine) with 1 drop of the excellent Holy Lama cardamom extract (or the ground seeds from 1-2 cardamom pods, depending on how subtle you want the flavour).
- Sifted in 120g self-raising flour and stirred gently until just combined.
- Sprinkled 3 tbsp of dark brown sugar over the base of a 9″ round silicon mould.
- Lay 12 pear quarters on top of the sugar then poured the batter over the top.
- Baked at 180℃ for 30 minutes until just done.
- Left to cool for about ten minutes, then turned the cake upside down onto a serving plate.
The harvest festival theme resulted in a bounty of fruit and vegetable cakes. The cake shown here completely stole the show, but they were all very tasty and yes, I did manage to try a piece of each! An independent wine merchant with accompanying champagne and coffee bar, Bin Two in Padstow, was our venue and some of the participants seemed much more interested in the wine than they did in the cake. The shop included a cafe bar, so we all crowded and got up close and cosy. Thanks as always to Ellie Mitchell for organising another splendid cakey gathering.
Bin Two were hosting a Macmillan Coffee Morning the following day, so I also brought along a few oaty ginger biscuits. These were quite fiery as they were not only flavoured with ground ginger but included crystallised ginger too. CT got almost grumpy when he was only allowed to try one.
So this is another success I put down to Dom and his Random Recipes over at Belleau Kitchen – such a fun and interesting challenge – most of the time anyway!
I had a bit of a dilemma trying to decide which of this month’s seasonal recipes should be sent to Simple and in Season – there have been so many good ones. But despite the rather prosaic nature of pear after the colours and flavours of blackberry and plum, this cake deserves recognition. Nazima of Franglais Kitchen is hosting this month on behalf of Ren Behan.