Italian Pear Almond Cake

With autumn now rolling in, it’s time to begin a season of baked goodies! I love autumnal baking recipes, and this Italian Pear Almond Cake recipe by Jennifer from Seasons and Suppers  is amazing. I made it for the first time last year and it has been a go-to winner ever since. Moist and fluffy, and lightly sweetened, this cake is heaven.

As Jennifer rightly notes “this cake is not a cake with pears in it. It’s pears with some cake in it. It is classically Italian”. The cake use 3 pears to make, and hence when it’s completed you get a lovely, light almondy cake that is warmed up with the delicious fruit submerged into the cake. The crunch of flaked almonds on the top is a lovely touch, a nice balance between the sweet and spongy cake and the crunchy nuts. It’s a recipe that has now been added to my tried, tested and loved list!

Ingredients:

  • 125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 125 g white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 small/medium ripe pears, peeled, cored and halved
  • 50 g flaked/sliced almonds
  • Icing sugar, for garnish

Method:

  1. Grease and line a cake tin with baking paper using butter. Pre-heat oven to around fan 180/ 200 oC/ gas mark 6
  2. Prepare the pears by peeling, coring and cutting them in half then set aside for later.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating in each egg separately.
  4. Fold in the flour, ground almonds and the baking power using a spatula. Spoon the batter into the greased tin and smooth over the mixture with a palette knife.
  5.  Place the pears on the top of the cake in any pattern you like (I tried to make a circular pattern but was not as neat as I wanted) and bake in the oven for 25  minutes.
  6. Remove the cake and sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top. I used less almonds than Jennifer’s recipe suggested because I used a small cake tin so had less cake to cover. As a general rule, use enough almonds to generously cover the top of the cake.
  7. Put the cake back in the oven to cook for a further 8-10 minutes. Check the cake is fully cooked before taking it out by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake and checking it comes out clean.
  8. Put the cake to the side to cool. Dust with icing sugar to finish.

Granola Bars

Perfect Lunchbox Snack for Back To School

I made these scummy granola bars as a way to use up my leftover honey and nut granola and to stop me munching on too many biscuits. The bars came out a lot tastier than I was expecting. Now I cannot stop making or eating them! This recipe would work brilliantly with your own homemade granola as well if you don’t have any spare granola that you need to get rid of. Great homemade alternatives to snack bars, that are perfect for school or work lunches, these bad boys are definitely worth a try!

Ingredients:

  • 320g granola (bought or your own homemade batch, I used honey granola that contained flaked almonds and raisins)
  • 170g honey
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 180g (frozen) raspberries
  • 85g whole hazelnuts (or any other type of nuts)
  • Optional: 100g dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Grease and line a baking tray with baking paper . Preheat the oven to around 200oC/ fan 180oC/ gas mark 6.
  2. Mix the granola (homemade or shop bought) with the hazelnuts and raspberries in a large bowl.
  3. In a medium saucepan, mix the honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract and butter, then place over a medium heat. Stir until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture onto the granola, nuts and fruit mix and stir well until all the granola is covered in the sugary liquid and the raspberries are a little bashed. Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray, pressing it down so that it is evenly distributed. Place in the oven for around 25 minutes.
  5. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave until completely cooled. (At this point, you could melt the dark chocolate in a bowl oven a pan of boiling water to dribble over the bars to make them extra yummy)
  6. Once cooled, cut into squares and enjoy!

Peach and Berry Pie

It’s now late summer which means it’s almost harvest time, when all the lovely berries are ripe and ready for the picking. This Peach and Berry Pie is perfect to use up extra peaches which are ripe at this time of year, as well as getting your autumnal baking started early by using some berries as well. The berries add a lovely tartness to the sweet peaches which makes it a perfect pudding to bake for everyone to enjoy.

Specific Equipment:

23cm pie dish

pastry brush

Ingredients: 

500g block of shortcrust pastry

3 fresh peaches – peeled, pitted and sliced

170g mixed berries

40g plain flour

200g white sugar

3tbsp cornstarch

2tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1tsp vanilla extract

2tbsp butter

Method:

  1. Preheat an oven to 175 degrees C.
  2. Separate the shortcrust pastry into two halves. Transfer one piece of the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it out from the centre to the edges to form a 30cm circle. Wrap the pastry around the rolling pin, then unroll it onto the pie dish carefully so that you don’t stretch it. Lightly press the pastry around the edges of the pie dish and on the bottom. Trim the pastry evenly around the rim of the pie dish, then return the pie dish to the fridge.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch, 1 tsp of the cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of nutmeg. Then add the peaches and berries and the vanilla extract by gently folding the fruit and vanilla into the flour mixture, taking care not to crush the berries. Leave the flour/fruit mixture to stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. After 15 minutes, take the pie dish out of the fridge. Transfer the fruit mixture into the pastry-lined pie dish. The filling will be piled high but don’t worry, it’ll will cook down. Dot the top of the fruit with butter, then roll out the remaining pastry for the top of the pie.  You could do a lattice pattern for the top of your pie like I’ve done (featured), or simply make a full top crust with decorative slits cut into the crust to allow the steam to escape. It’s up to you! Make sure that you trim the edges of the top of the pie regardless of what type of top you choose to do, leaving a 1cm overhang. Fold the top pastry under the bottom layer of pastry, pressing lightly to seal. Whisk the egg in a bowl and use a pastry brush to brush the top crust or lattice with the egg mixture. To prevent over-browning, cover the edge of the pie with foil.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven on the baking tray for 25 minutes. While the pie is cooking,  combine 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tbsp of sugar in a bowl. Once the pie has been baking for 25 minutes, remove the foil from around the pie edges, sprinkle the sugar mixture on the crust. Continue to bake the pie for a further 20 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden. Turn off the oven and let the pie set for 30 minutes. Then, transfer to a cooling rack. Once cool, serve and enjoy!

 

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake with Ginger Biscuit Base 

I absolutely love cheesecake. It is one of my favourite desserts and I have been known to eat one in all its entirety just by myself. But oddly enough, I have never made one. Cakes, yes. Pastries, yes. Cheesecake, never. So when a friend requested a cheesecake for his birthday as opposed to a good ol’ chocolate cake, I jumped at the chance. The best thing about cheesecakes is that they are very easy to make. They are also extremely versatile, you can adapt the recipe in almost anyway to incorporate a variety of flavours (just type in ‘cheesecake recipes’ on Pinterest to see what I mean). Perfect for pudding at a Sunday BBQ, this White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake with a Ginger Biscuit Base is a sure winner!

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Ingredients:

For the filling

  • 500g white chocolate, broken
  • 75g butter
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 500g cream cheese
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 180ml whipping cream
  • 2 punnets raspberries

For the biscuit base

  • 1 pack ginger nuts biscuits, crushed (for a plain base use a pack of digestive biscuits)
  • 150g butter, melted

Method:

  1. Prepare the base by combining the biscuits and butter until the mixture is well mixed (you want every bit of biscuit coated in butter). Then, press the biscuit mixture down on the bottom of a cake tin, preferably one that is a springboard cake tin. Use your fist to push the mixture down so that it is compressed, so that you don’t have a crumbly base. Then, place into the fridge whilst you prepare the filling.
  2. Add the white chocolate, vanilla essence and butter to a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, ensuring the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Keep stirring until both the chocolate and butter are melted and fully mixed, then remove the bowl from the heat. Stir the mixture till it is fully smooth and then leave to cool slightly.
  3. In another bowl mix together the cream cheese, icing sugar and whipping cream till smooth. Then, combine the cream mixture with the melted chocolate and butter. Gently stir in about 3/4 of the raspberries.
  4. Pour the mix over your biscuit base , making sure the mixture is evenly spread. Then, chill in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight if possible. Decorate with the remaining raspberries just before serving.

Enjoy!

 

Italian Pear Almond Cake

I have been dying to try Jennifer’s (from Seasons and SuppersItalian Pear Almond Cake recipe for a while, and on the occasion of me having visitors, I had the perfect excuse to try it out on my guests. And wow, it was wonderful.

Moist and fluffy, and lightly sweetened, this cake is heaven.

 

As Jennifer rightly notes “this cake is not a cake with pears in it. It’s pears with some cake in it. It is classically Italian”. The cake use 3 pears to make, and hence when it’s completed you get a lovely, light almondy cake that is warmed up with the delicious fruit submerged into the cake. The crunch of flaked almonds on the top is a lovely touch, a nice balance between the sweet and spongy cake and the crunchy nuts. Definitely a recipe to add to my tried, tested and loved list!

Ingredients:

  • 125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 125 g white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 small/medium ripe pears, peeled, cored and halved
  • 50 g flaked/sliced almonds
  • Icing sugar, for garnish

Method:

  1. Grease and line a cake tin with baking paper using butter. Pre-heat oven to around fan 180/ 200 oC/ gas mark 6
  2. Prepare the pears by peeling, coring and cutting them in half then set aside for later.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating in each egg separately.
  4. Fold in the flour, ground almonds and the baking power using a spatula. Spoon the batter into the greased tin and smooth over the mixture with a palette knife.
  5.  Place the pears on the top of the cake in any pattern you like (I tried to make a circular pattern but was not as neat as I wanted) and bake in the oven for 25  minutes.
  6. Remove the cake and sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top. I used less almonds than Jennifer’s recipe suggested because I used a small cake tin so had less cake to cover. As a general rule, use enough almonds to generously cover the top of the cake.
  7. Put the cake back in the oven to cook for a further 8-10 minutes. Check the cake is fully cooked before taking it out by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake and checking it comes out clean.
  8. Put the cake to the side to cool. Dust with icing sugar to finish.

Simple Banana Bread

Banana bread is one of my favourite things to bake, as it is so quick and simple, and I can also trick myself into thinking its healthy because it contains fruit. Perfect for a quick, filling snack or lunchbox filler, this banana bread recipe is perfect for any ability of baker to try out!

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 200g plain flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 egg

 

Method:

  1. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper using butter.Preheat the oven to around fan 160/ 180 oC/ gas mark 5. 
  2. Mash the bananas using a fork in a large mixing bowl. Once mashed, add the remaining ingredients into the bowl and mix well (the mixture should be quite lumpy and thick).
  3. Bake for 40 minutes in the oven, then remove and leave to cool in the loaf tin to allow it to set. Once cool, remove from the tin and store in a cool, dry place for a few days.

Granola Bars

Perfect Lunchbox Snack for Back To School

I made these scummy granola bars as a way to use up my leftover honey and nut granola and to stop me munching on too many biscuits. The bars came out a lot tastier than I was expecting. Now I cannot stop making or eating them! This recipe would work brilliantly with your own homemade granola as well if you don’t have any spare granola that you need to get rid of. Great homemade alternatives to snack bars, that are perfect for school or work lunches, these bad boys are definitely worth a try!

Ingredients:

  • 320g granola (bought or your own homemade batch, I used honey granola that contained flaked almonds and raisins)
  • 170g honey
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 180g (frozen) raspberries
  • 85g whole hazelnuts (or any other type of nuts)
  • Optional: 100g dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Grease and line a baking tray with baking paper . Preheat the oven to around 200oC/ fan 180oC/ gas mark 6.
  2. Mix the granola (homemade or shop bought) with the hazelnuts and raspberries in a large bowl.
  3. In a medium saucepan, mix the honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract and butter, then place over a medium heat. Stir until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture onto the granola, nuts and fruit mix and stir well until all the granola is covered in the sugary liquid and the raspberries are a little bashed. Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray, pressing it down so that it is evenly distributed. Place in the oven for around 25 minutes.
  5. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave until completely cooled. (At this point, you could melt the dark chocolate in a bowl oven a pan of boiling water to dribble over the bars to make them extra yummy)
  6. Once cooled, cut into squares and enjoy!

Grandma’s Classic Cottage Pie

Here is my Grandma’s go-to recipe for a perfect, classic cottage pie – the ideal homely, wholesome meal to come home to.

Ingredients:

  • 2kg potatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • Half of a full broccoli
  • 100g (frozen) peas
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 beef stock cube dissolved in 500ml of water
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 1/2 garlic cloves
  • 750g beef
  • 25g butter
  • 225ml milk

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC/160C fan/ gas 4.
  2. Add the oil, onion and garlic to a large pan until the onions have softened. Then add the mince, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon and brown the meat off until there is not a lot of liquid left.
  3. Add around 250ml of red wine to the pan (I used mulled wine as I had no red wine hanging about but worked just as well) bringing the liquid to the boil. Then turn the heat down to a simmer and add the vegetables (excluding the peas) and beef stock. After a few minutes, use a slotted spoon to drain off excess liquid into a jug or container. This excess liquid will be used as gravy later.
  4. Put the meat and veg into an overproof dish and place in the oven for 45 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and boil them in a large pan for 20-25 minutes. Then, drain them and mash with the butter and milk. Alternatively, you can also use cream, or even yogurt. Season the mash with salt and pepper, tasting to check whether you need to add more.
  6. Take the dish out of the oven and add the peas. Mix the meat and veg before adding the mash on top. Use a fork to make groves along the mash, then place the dish in the oven for a further 30 minutes, or until the mince is bubbling. For a crispy top, for the last few minutes turn on the grill to brown up the top until brown.
  7. While the cottage pie is finishing off, thicken the excess liquid with plain flour, then bring the liquid to the boil in a pan. Once boiling, bring the heat down so that the liquid can simmer, leaving it for 5 minutes at least for that the flour can cook.
  8. Serve the cottage pie in generous helpings with a lathering of hot gravy.