With Autumn closing in I thought I'd share one of my favourite recipes, to make summer stretch that little bit further. This is a delicious Italian cake recipe that's quick to put together - you can vary the filling and use up what ever is lingering in the fruit bowl or raid the store cupboard.
It's lovely sliced and served as a cake for tea, or works really well warmed up with a dollop of custard for dessert. I like to "syrup" this to make it that little more moist, but this is optional.
200g (7oz) plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
200g castor sugar
1 vanilla pod
zest of 1 lemon
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
80g chopped dates or currants (optional)
50 g pine nuts
100g (3.5oz) of butter at room temperature
2 pears, peeled and cut into slices
50g (2oz) dark chocolate chips
Line a 25cm cake tine with baking paper and preheat the over to 180C/350F
Use a whist to mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, vanilla and zest together. Stir the the milk and mix until smooth. Add the pine nuts and dates if using. Stir well to combine. Tear the butter into small pieces (if its too cold to do this easy pop it in the microwave for 10second intervals until it's soft) and whisk them in.
Pour mixture into the prepared tin and add pears. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden.
If syruping the cake, add 1/2 cup of water to 1/2 a cup of sugar, juice of one lemon and some lemon zest to a pot. Bring to the boil and then switch off until you cake comes out the oven. Pour over the cake as it comes out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
*When whisking the butter in don't worry if there are little pieces visible in the batter, in fact, you want these! They cook to create gorgeous buttery pockets in the cake!
*Substitute dates with white chocolate chips and add canned peaches for a change.
*If using a canned fruit, set the juices from the can aside to use as your syrup.
*If the cake is going to stand for any length of time, I recommend syruping it to keep it fresh for longer.
*If you're baking this as a dessert, it can also be baked in a stoneware or glass over proof dish, and covered with custard before spooning out into bowls.
It doesn't tend to hang around long, but on the off chance you have any left overs, store in an airtight container until you need it, up to a week.
Ps, It's GREAT to be back. x