Posts Tagged ‘pear’

Pear and Stilton elevenses

23 October 2020

October 23. Cycling through the park speckled golden with leaves and sunlight this morning is a memory for today. Autumn at its most perfect. And already the sky is overcast, dulled and dreary, a few drops even. In London the weather changes five times a day, it’s about catching the rays.

This snack, which may just as well lengthen the sun or brighten a rainy morning, is my favourite thing in autumn.

Pear and Stilton elevenses

A perfectly ripe pear, peeled or not

Pear and almond cake with honey and cardamom

4 October 2020

October 4th. It’s been raining for days. Not a downpour, a steady mizzle. The occasional interruption a pause — a tease, to lure us outside — but never long enough to be safe from the next drizzle. Everything is steeped, the grass is shimmering.

Looking out, droplets dribbling down the window like sea spray, it feels like the earth may drown. We need a buoy. A book, a game, a film? A cake.

This recipe is a variation on one I found on the blog My Darling Lemon Thyme a few weeks ago while looking for a dairy-free pear cake (it happens to also be gluten-free). It’s an excellent recipe and I’ve used it a couple of times since for riffs and improvisations. This latest incarnation is worth writing down.

Almond and pear cake with honey and cardamom based on the Spiced Pear and Almond Cake from My Darling Lemon Thyme
Dairy- and (optionally) gluten-free!

4 eggs
120g (2/3 cup) soft brown sugar
Scraped seeds of one vanilla bean or a teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest from one lemon
80ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
200g ground almonds
120g white spelt flour (or use 300g almonds and 45g rice flour)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsps ground cardamom seeds
2 tsps ground ginger
Two generous pinches of salt
300g peeled and finely chopped pears (I had little pears and used 6 or 7 in total)
2 Tbsps runny honey
A handful of flaked (sliced) almonds
Icing sugar (optional) for dusting

Preheat oven to 180°C. Oil a cake tin and line it with parchment paper. [The quantity works for a 30 x 10cm loaf or 23cm round tin.]

Beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla vigorously for 5 minutes.

Add the lemon zest and the olive oil gradually, beating to incorporate completely.

Add the ground almonds, sifted flour, baking powder, cardamom, one teaspoon of ginger, and the salt. Mix until just uniformly combined.

Peel, core, and cut the pears. Toss in a bowl with the honey and the other teaspoon of ginger.

Gently mix the pears into the batter, scrape the mix into the cake tin, and cover with the flaked almonds. Slide the cake into the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a knife or skewer comes out clean.

Let cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before de-moulding. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The cake keeps for a few days (at room temperature for about 24 hours and then preferably in the fridge).

Cake with pear and toasted hazelnuts

21 January 2011

Or how a simple cake became slightly more complicated but also much tastier.

It all started last Friday when I decided to bake a simple cake, a classic french Quatre Quart (Four Quarters) which goes something like this: 1) weigh eggs: 2, 3, 4, or more, depending on the desired size of the cake; 2) prepare the same weight in butter, sugar, and flour; 3) mix; 4) bake. It is a practical cake, easy to make anywhere (with a scale). Some recipes call for baking powder, but to me Quatre Quart is a dense cake; when I want something lighter, more akin to Pound Cake, I make Gâteau au Yaourt (Yogurt Cake), another simple formula cake that will find its way into these pages soon enough.

Truthfully, I never just make Quatre Quart – it’s not that exciting as is. But it is a good base for baking improvisation. So I lower the amount of sugar, as a matter of habit; I always add fruit; and I often substitute ground nuts for part of the flour. Last Friday I used pears and hazelnuts and went a bit hard on the sugar. That Very Simple Pear and Hazelnut Cake was easily improved with a hint more sugar and some lemon zest, a second version that I made on Tuesday. It was much better though slightly undercooked (a mere technicality) and I was starting to write down the recipe when I thought “toasted hazelnuts.” The added step makes the cake a bit less simple, but well worth it, and no one here complained about having to eat the same cake three times in one week.

So here it is, Simple Cake with Pear and Hazelnuts – Take 3.


1 cup (125 g) hazelnuts

1 1/4 cups (250 g) butter

1 cup (200 g) sugar

4 eggs

1 lemon

1 1/4 cup (125 g) flour

1 tsp salt

5 pears*


Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

In a roasting tray, toast hazelnuts for about 12 minutes until they begin to darken. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, roughly remove the skins by rubbing the hazelnuts between your hands. Place in a food processor and pulse-chop into a fine flour.

Lower oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).

Cut butter into small pieces and place in a large bowl to soften at room temperature.

Using a wooden spoon, cream the butter with the sugar until smooth. Thoroughly beat in the eggs, one at a time (the dough will be lumpy at this stage), add lemon zest, flour, salt, hazelnuts, and mix well.

Peel, core, and cut pears, first into quarters and then into thin slices about 1/8 inch (3 mm). Squeeze lemon juice over the pieces of pear, toss, and gently combine into the batter.

Generously butter a 10 inch (25 cm) springform pan. Pour batter inside and smooth surface with a large spoon or spatula.

Place pan over a large piece of aluminum foil in the oven for 1 good hour (10 to 15 minutes longer if the pears are very juicy). **Most springform pans leak, the aluminum prevents drops to fall in the oven and burn.** Test with a knife that should come out clean.

As soon as the cake is out of the oven, use a knife to release the cake from the sides of the pan.

*I wanted the cake to have lots of pear, but someone pointed out that 5 pears could create too much juice and make the cake soggy. So if the pears are large, or if they are very ripe and juicy, you may want to use fewer. Another option is to toss the pear pieces very lightly with flour before folding into the cake, this will help absorb some of the juice.

Baby food | Pears

7 October 2010

This is classic baby food, of course, but despite this fact – or precisely because of it? – and because Louise literally smacks her lips when she eats it, I think it does deserve a post.


4 pears

1/2 cinnamon stick

Thin, small slice (1 in – 2.5 cm) fresh ginger

Small piece (1 in – 2.5 cm) untreated lemon rind


Thinly slice pears. Place in small saucepan with just enough water so the pear slices don’t burn before they start releasing their juice. Add cinnamon stick, ginger, and lemon rind. Cover with lid and let stew for about 25 minutes. Let cool and mash with a fork.

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