Recipe

Almond & pear cake

by Beca Lyne-Pirkis

A mid-morning treat with no added sugar

Following on from my chocolate torte and seeded rye bread, this is the third of my January bakes designed to provide balance to your diet rather than grim self-denial.

This recipe uses no added sugar, just the natural sweetness of pears and dried apricots. These natural sugars have been balanced with the nuts so that they’re digested and released into your body at a slower rate. The cake is full of texture from the mashed pears and the ground and flaked nuts, with the orange glaze adding a subtle glisten to the flaked and toasted almonds on the top. A delicious and moreish cake, perfect for a mid-morning treat with a coffee.

Ingredients

65g dried apricots
150g pears, ripe—roughly 2 large pears
3 eggs
75g unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp vanilla extract
Zest of ½ orange
Zest of 1 lemon
75g plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
150g ground almonds
100g flaked almonds
Juice of 1 orange

Method

Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a 23cm, loose-bottom cake tin.

Start by making the fruit purees. Place the apricots in a small saucepan over a medium heat with around 3cm of water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and leave until all the water has been absorbed by the apricots. If the water absorbs quickly and the fruit still looks ‘dry’, add around the same amount of water and leave to simmer again until the apricots look plump and juicy. Puree the apricots using a stick blender or a food processor, then leave to one side to cool a little.

For the pear puree, peel and core the fruit, then roughly chop into bite-sized pieces and place in a small saucepan with a splash of water. Heat over a medium heat until the pears are soft enough to mash with a fork—keep some texture in the pears, as this will add bite to the finished cake. The process of making the purees will take around 15-20 mins and you could easily make both purees at the same time in advance if you wanted to and keep in the fridge until ready to make the cake.

In a large bowl, combine the two purees, eggs, melted butter, vanilla extract and zests. The mixture will be quite liquid, but don’t worry. Next add in the flour, baking powder, ground almonds and all but a small handful of the flaked almonds—pop this to one side to scatter on top of the cake before it goes into the oven. Mix everything together and pour into your prepared cake tin. Smooth the top with a spatula and scatter the leftover flaked almonds over the top then bake in the oven for around 30 mins, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, squeeze the orange juice into a small saucepan, place on a medium heat and bring to a boil before reducing to a simmer. Leave to simmer for a couple of minutes until the juice is syrupy in consistency. Remove from the heat and keep to one side.

Once the cake has baked, leave to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes then remove to cool further on a cooling rack. Brush the top of the cake with the glaze—this adds a little shine as well as flavour. The cake is delicious served either a little warm or cold. It should taste naturally sweet from the fruit and will be moist in texture from the ground nuts and purees. Keep in an airtight tin in a cool place and eat within 3 days.

Recipe & images: Beca Lyne-Pirkis