• Michael

#0033: When Plans Go Pear Shaped

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

As the leaves begin to fall for another year, there are a couple of trees in the garden which really need to be felled before they run out of control. It's Saturday morning and, as I stretch, and yawn, and open my eyes, I resolve that today is the day those trees come down.

And then I hear it.

The sound of rain hammering against the skylight. There's nothing quite like it when you're tucked up, cozy in your bed.

I yawn again.

Oh well. The chainsaw will stay put for another day.

Looking out of the window, the rain is coming down in broad shafts of silver, as leaves are blowing in wild circles around the garden. A swirl of bronze, and copper, and gold, dancing across the lawn.

This is definitely a day to stay indoors so, inspired by the autumnal weather, I declare that baking season has officially recommenced on the Secret Coast.

This cake recipe takes advantage of the fact that September and October are pear season in Scotland, then throws in a little spice to keep you warm on a chilly autumn day. It's simple to make but looks seriously impressive when it's done, so it's definitely one to invite friends over for, if you're willing to share.

Start by shelling thirty or so cardamom pods until you have about 4g of seeds, then grind them with a pestle and mortar.

Next, blitz 130g of walnuts in a blender until they look like fine crumbs.

Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment set to a medium speed, beat together 150g of soft, room temperature butter, 150g of light brown muscovado sugar, a good pinch of salt and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Once they are well combined, beat in three medium sized eggs, one at a time.

Whilst the batter is mixing, take a clean bowl and combine 120g of plain white flour, one and a half teaspoons each of baking powder and ground ginger, and the ground cardamom seeds and, with the mixer still running, slowly add this to the batter, then mix in the ground walnuts.

Line a greased loaf tin with baking paper and spoon in the mixture. Rinse and dry a couple of ripe pears, and gently push them into the mixture so that they stand upright, before baking in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for about an hour.

Once it's done, transfer your cake to a wire rack, let it cool, and give it a gentle sprinkling of icing sugar.

Then cut yourself a slice, pour yourself a coffee, snuggle up in front of the fire, and leave the outdoor plans for another day.

#argyllsecretcoast #secretdiaryargyll #cowal #argyll #scotland #baking #cake #cottagekitchen #pear

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