Call me behind the times, but I’ve only recently managed to start investigating flours that aren’t your plain, self-raising, strong or wholemeal variety. I bought a bag of rye flour the other week to bake a particular cake, but I didn’t have all of the other ingredients for it, so I settled on this rye apple and cinnamon cake from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet instead.
The recipe calls for this being made in a small tin, but as I only had a large one, I threw all caution to the wind and used my 20cm round tin instead (I really do know how to party…).
This cake is definitely my favourite kind – really easy to make. Melt butter, golden syrup and sugar together, mix in the other ingredients and fold in chunks of apple coated in cinnamon before topping with almonds and demerara sugar, and baking. Job done!
I found that I had to leave the cake in for about 15 minutes longer than the recipe said, which was partly due to my dodgy oven and partly because of the different tin I used. I expected to have to bake it for significantly longer than a standard cake anyway because of the rye flour (which is similar to wholemeal flour in terms of density), but that didn’t seem to make too much of a difference – perhaps because it was mixed with ground almonds.
This cake is very much of the comfort food variety – you wouldn’t wheel this out for a special occasion, but it’s just the thing for teatime on a dreary autumn day. The texture is fairly rough due to the rye flour, but the flavour of the apples and cinnamon really comes through. I think it helped that I used Bramley apples, but you could probably use standard dessert apples too.
Definitely one to make again!
I bought some pears a while ago with the vague intention of using them in a bake. When I finally remembered that they were still knocking about, I did a bit of research and decided to amalgamate two recipes to create this promising-sounding pear, chocolate and almond cake.
The two recipes I found were from Good Housekeeping and Tinned Tomatoes, which both looked excellent. I mainly followed the method from Tinned Tomatoes, while incorporating the almonds using Good Housekeeping’s method.
All went relatively well – I had to leave the cake in for longer than the recipe said, of course, but that’s nothing new for my oven! I only got a chance to properly taste it the next day, and was impressed by how fudgy the cake looked when I sliced it up.
However, the taste wasn’t quite what I expected. The almond flavour came through so strongly I could only just about taste the chocolate, and the pear was hardly anywhere to be seen! It was a bit disappointing, although it was still a lovely cake. I think perhaps my almond extract was overly strong (I used 1 tsp of it), and the pears weren’t ripe enough.
If I make this again, I’ll use a lot less almond extract (if any) and riper conference pears rather than the not-so-ripe dessert pears I actually used. I might also try adding dark chocolate to the mix or, failing that, serving the cake with a rich chocolate sauce!
The recipe below takes the above into account – it’s worth going slowly with the extract and tasting the mix as you go along.
Pear, chocolate and almond cake recipe
From Good Housekeeping and Tinned Tomatoes
- 50g cocoa
- 150ml hot water
- One-quarter to half a teaspoon of almond extract, depending on its strength
- 100g caster sugar
- 200g golden caster sugar
- 125g butter, softened
- 125g self-raising flour, sifted
- 75g ground almonds
- 2 eggs
- 2 very ripe conference pears, peeled and sliced lengthways
- 25g flaked almonds
- Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Grease a round 20cm springform tin and line the base with baking parchment.
- Dissolve the cocoa in the hot water and set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugars and almond extract until light and fluffy.
- Add the ground almonds, eggs, cocoa mixture and flour, and beat until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the tin and place the pear slices on top. Scatter the flaked almonds on top.
- Bake for at least an hour. Check the cake with a skewer (it’s ready when the skewer comes out without any mix on it) and leave for 10 minutes a time, checking with a skewer each time, until the cake is cooked in the middle.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely before serving.
This was a bit of a spontaneous bake. I really fancied some garlic bread to go with some pasta, but didn’t have any in, so I decided to knock up some garlic and parsley soda bread instead. It took a little under an hour to make from start to finish and was surprisingly delicious!
I think I’ve made soda bread once before, but have always found traditional bread more appealing. However, the bread episode of this year’s GBBO, where the contestants had to make flavoured quick breads, must have stuck in my brain and unconsciously persuaded me to make my own.
I used a Jack Monroe recipe for this, and followed it to the letter, but you could easily substitute/add to the flavours to suit your taste. I can image the bread being lovely with some parmesan or mature cheddar worked into the mix, or perhaps some sundried tomatoes and olives for a more Mediterranean flavour.
The texture was very light, albeit pretty different to a standard bread – the crust wasn’t very crusty for a start. However, it really was tasty and went well with the pasta – I would definitely make this again in the event of another craving for quick garlic bread!