For me, this winter is going to be a time to cultivate a deeper appreciation of the small things, especially home comforts and the occasional treat. During the recent lockdown, and really since the first lockdown in March, we have made it a tradition to go for a walk on a Saturday to our local farmers market, and treat ourselves to a few organic, seasonal, delicious ingredients for the week. We work to a budget, and get a selection of fresh vegetables, some organic meat or fish, and perhaps something sweet will be snuck into the basket to have with a cup of tea when we get home. This weekend we bought some delicious pears, which reminded me of this pear and cardamom cake recipe that I love to make.
Pears are in season in the UK from the autumn right through the winter depending on the variety. Conference pears have one of the longest seasons, fruiting between September and May. My favourite, though, is the Comice pear as it has such a beautiful flavour and is incredibly juicy. I love their plump shape and the red blush they get as the sun ripens them. We planted a dwarf pear tree on our allotment at the start of the year which is actually the Concorde variety, a cross between the Conference and Comice. Usually you have to grow two pear trees close together to allow pollination (without which it wouldn’t fruit), but the Concorde will self-pollinate, meaning we only need one. It’s better for our small plot, and hopefully the fruits will still have some of the lovely Comice flavour when we eventually have some to harvest. Our tree is still very small, so it will be a while yet.
I first made this cake a few years ago, and I can’t honestly remember where the inspiration came from to combine these two flavours, but ever since then I’ve loved the delicate, soft pear with the warming perfume of the cardamom. The recipe is very simple, as I originally made this as a quick loaf cake to take into work where it went down an absolute treat with my team. There’s a sweet crust on top where I sprinkle some light brown sugar just before baking, and the cake itself is fluffy, yet slightly moist from the juice of the pears. I love the look on people’s faces as they eat it and try to decipher the flavours – a fusion of intrigue and delight. It’s charm is subtle, but unmistakably autumnal.
Pear and Cardamom Cake Recipe
- 200g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g light brown sugar plus extra for topping
- 3 eggs (2 if using large eggs)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 200g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- Pinch salt
- 2 large ripe pears
- Heat the oven to 170°C or 150°C with fan.
- Grease a 2lb loaf tin and line with baking paper. Set aside until the mix is ready – it’s important to have this prepared so that when you’ve mixed everything together you don’t have to leave it standing after the baking powder has gone to work.
- Peel and chop the pears into fairly small pieces and set aside as you’ll need to add them quickly in a couple of steps.
- Cream together the butter and sugar. If your butter is quite cold and hard, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it, but don’t melt it!
- Beat the eggs and add the vanilla extract before pouring in to the butter and sugar mixture. Stir until well combined.
- In another bowl, mix together the self-raising flour, baking powder, pinch of salt, and ground cardamom. Gradually fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined.
- Quickly stir in the chopped pears and transfer the mixture to your pre-lined loaf tin.
- Bake for 1:15 hours or until you can insert a skewer or chopstick into the middle and it comes out clean.
I’d love to hear from you if you have a go at this recipe, and as always feel free to connect over at @plotandlane on Instagram and tag me in your seasonal creations.
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