This double pear green smoothie bowl is a firm favourite with us. In fact everyone who’s tried it has been impressed and wanted the recipe. It’s rich, filling and delicious. It’s also packed full of nutrients and keeps me going for hours. That’s at least two of your five-a-day done and dusted by breakfast.
Failed nut butter may not sound like the most promising of posts, but do read on. I unwittingly turned my failure to make almond butter into a delicious pear almond butter, which is definitely worth blogging about.
Autumn pears, fragrant honey and warming ginger come together for an easy bonfire night bake. These gingered pear almond honey cakes are not only delicious, but are easily portable. They’re the perfect antidote to overhyped Halloween and its transatlantic excesses. They can be eaten whilst watching the bonfire flames dance and the Catherine wheels spin – no tricks, just treats.
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.
|Pear, Carob and Honey Cake|
When I was living at home as a teenager, my mother and I went through one of our sporadic health kicks and didn’t eat or drink any chocolate for a few months. Carob powder was the substance we used to replace it, both in drinks and in baking. It was an acquired taste but really rather nice once I got used to it. Whilst the only comparison to cocoa was its form and colour, it had a pleasant flavour which was not at all bitter. When I saw some carob in a health food shop recently, I had a yen to make a carob cake again and remind myself of its qualities.
Dom has decided to go on a health kick this month, so for Random Recipes we are tasked with picking a “happy and healthy” recipe. I immediately thought of my new book, Love Bake Nourish by Amber Rose. I shall be posting a review of this at some point, but suffice it to say I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. Although there are only a few chocolate recipes in it, I asked CT to pick any page number in the belief I could always add chocolate if it wasn’t already present in the recipe.
Page number 46 gave me Caramelised Pear and Buckwheat Pudding Cake. This couldn’t have been more fortuitous; I had just been sent a surprise tray of South African apples and pears from Beautiful Country, Beautiful Fruit, so was really pleased to have landed on this one and the recipe sounded delicious. However, the more I scrutinised it, the more I thought it just didn’t lend itself to chocolate. As I was about to ask CT to pick another number, I had a brain wave – carob might work. This was a “free from” cake, having neither wheat nor sugar, so why not make a “free from chocolate” cake too?
The recipe called for maple syrup, but as I didn’t have any of that, I used a mixture of honey and my homemade dandelion honey instead.
This is how I made:
Caramelised Pear, Honey and Carob Cake
- Ground the seeds from two cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar.
- Peeled, quartered and cored two firm Williams pears.
- Melted 25g unsalted butter in a pan with 2 tbsp dandelion honey on a medium to low heat.
- Added the cardamom powder and stirred to distribute.
- Added the pears and left for about 5 minutes to brown a little. Turned them over and did the same to the other side.
- Whipped 150g unsalted butter with 125g New Zealand thyme honey until light and creamy.
- Beat in 2 large duck eggs, one at a time.
- Sifted in 75g buckwheat flour and 50g carob powder.
- Folded this in together with 75g ground almonds.
- Spooned this into a 22 cm cake mould.
- Placed the pear quarters in a fan shape on top of the cake and scraped the remaining caramel over the tops.
- Baked at 170C for 40 minutes until the cake was risen and a skewer inserted into the middle came out clean.
- Left to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Dusted the top with icing sugar.
|Gluten Free Pear, Carob and Honey Cake|
I was really pleased with the appearance of this cake, with the batter rising above the pears giving an appealing sunken look to the fruit. The crumb was close textured, but not in the least bit heavy with a melt in the mouth quality. I was right, carob, caramel and pear make for an excellent combination. It was a delight to get reacquainted with carob and I’m wondering why its been so many years since I’ve used it.
Random Recipes is a monthly cooking challenge devised by Dashing Dom of Belleau Kitchen, whereby you get to cook a recipe from your cookbooks that has been chosen randomly. I’ve been in from the beginning and this is my favourite blogging challenge (excluding We Should Cocoa of course); I look forward to it with some trepidation each month – you never know what you are going to get.
I’m also submitting this to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays whereby everything must be made from scratch.
Although I’d love to enter the Short and Tweet twitter challenge (#shortandtweet) every week, I know this is not feasible, but I am trying to enter it on a monthly basis. You can see the upcoming schedule of bakes here. This week I am not only still on holiday, but one of the chosen recipes is a chocolate cake – errr – no brainer! This has been chosen because of the January austerity measures imposed on our stomachs – it contains only a small amount of fat and sugar using pears as a partial substitute.
As I only had a small (220g) pack of pears left behind by a Japanese visitor, I made approximately half the quantity. It was a bit difficult to half three eggs, but as they weren’t particularly big, I used two and rounded up the other ingredients rather than down to compensate. The only convenient sized mould I had was a loaf tin, so that is what I used. Not having any walnut oil to hand, which I’m sure would have been really good, I used a combination of sunflower and pumpkin seed.
I upped the calories a little, by drizzling on some 37% G&B milk chocolate – or perhaps blobbing is a better description. It’s certainly not as pretty as Dan’s picture in the book. You can see his recipe, originally published in the Guardian, here.
Without giving any clues as to it’s identity, I asked CT what he thought. This was his stream of consciousness whilst tasting “smells of cupcakes from my childhood. Resilient cake, not crumbly but has a springy texture. Not very sweet. Nice, slightly banana flavour, slightly grainy, like oats? Seems like the sort of thing someone from the 1950s, wearing a waistcoat, would be eating with a mug of tea, after a hard days graft in the fields”.
When he found out this was made with pears, he cried, “ahh sclereids” – blooming botanists! Sclereids are, apparently, the grainy bits you get in pears, so he wasn’t too far off the mark with the grainy and fruity associations
We both really liked this cake, both the flavour and texture and it really didn’t need the chocolate on top, although this did make for an, err, interesting look!
Dinner for six last night, so a good chance to try out a new pudding recipe. I went for the very first one in Green and Black’s, clafoutis with chocolate and pears in red wine. I omitted the wine and the jelly. Gelatine didn’t seem a terribly appropriate ingredient for a sitting of mostly vegetarians.
- Peeled 6 ripe Williams pears (important to leave stalk on to they can be easily lifted in and out of pan) and poached them for 10 mins in 25cl sherry and 50cl water with the juice and rind of 1 lemon and 4oz granulated sugar.
- Left pears in cooling liquid to marinade for about 4 hours.
- Halved pears, removing cores and stalks.
- Melted 100g 85% chocolate in a pan with 3oz butter.
- Sifted 4oz flour (2oz wholemeal, 2oz white spelt) into a bowl with a pinch of salt (I used pink Himalayan), a heaped tsp of baking powder an 3 1/2 oz (100g) of ground almonds.
- Whisked 2 duck eggs into 6fl oz milk and combined this with flour and chocolate mixtures.
- Divided mixture into 2 buttered Pyrex soufflé dishes and placed the pear halves on top with thinner ends facing inwards around the dish.
- Baked in centre of oven for 15 mins at 200°C. It’s just right if still gooey in the middle – which it was.
- Served with sauce, made by reducing the poaching liquid and clotted cream (local and organic of course).