We had a pretty good pear harvest this year. I think pears often fruit well on a two-year cycle – I don’t know why I think this. Anyway, it appears that the trees that didn’t fruit so well last year did better this year and vice versa. Consequently we are eating quite a few pears as they don’t store brilliantly.
The apple harvest was less good. Possibly because all the windfalls got hauled off without me noticing to be fed to the pigs; possibly because the cider orchard area is horribly overgrown with weeds (I should have taken the time to put weedblock down when we planted the trees but I was pretty sure they would be OK – I was wrong); or possibly because campers help themselves to our apples – wtf? – I mean seriously, I would not lean over a fence on a campsite and help myself to apples that are obviously part of a smallholding. Do these people just wander into shops and help themselves? I expect I will find them in my polytunnel next harvesting tomatoes (if they can find them in-between the weeds) What makes me more mad is that most of the apples are cooking or cider apples and thus taste sour so people chuck them away.
Anyway, to calm myself down and make use of the pears, I have been making this very simple cake. It is adapted from a recipe by Nigel Slater (Tender, vol.II), but I use almonds, not pecans, because even though I haven’t harvested any almonds that I have been able to remove from their shells intact from my almond tree I like to think that one day I might …. it’s good to have a goal! I have also rounded the measurements up and down by 5g to make it easier to weigh on my scales which are marked in 25g increments.
Pear and Almond Cake: 175g butter, 175g sugar, 2 large pears (or three medium ones), bit of lemon juice to toss the pears in to stop them discolouring, 3 large eggs, 125g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 75g ground almonds, 80ml milk, few drops of vanilla extract, big handful of almonds.
Set the oven to 180C and line a shallow baking tin with baking paper. Quarter and core the pears, then cut into thick slices. Toss in the lemon juice. I don’t peel the pears. Nigel Slater says he likes the contrasting texture of the unpeeled ones, I am just too lazy to do it and you can’t really tell they still have their peel on. Put the butter and sugar in a food mixer and whizz until it is light and creamy. Add the eggs and beat. fold in the flour, baking powder and almonds (I don’t bother serving the flour as I am really lazy). Add the milk and vanilla extract. Put into the lined baking tin.
Carefully arrange the pears on top. I now add more pears than you can see here as really you can’t have too much fruit in a cake. Scatter over the almonds and push gently in – I also add more almonds. Bake for an hour – I usually forget the cake and cook it for longer – hence the slightly burnt top – I still tastes good.
This is a perfect breakfast cake and it travels well too.