Our M&S delivery was met with the usual buzz of excitement and lots of cooking ideas flying around the room. I came away with onions amongst many other goodies, with thoughts of French Onion soup.
Onion soup? Where has the onion soup gone? I hear you cry. Well don't worry, I did make it, but I also made a gluttony of cakes. So as it's Friday, I thought you would rather hear about cakes than soup (after all calories don't count on a Friday, or any day ending in Y for that matter!).
I am not usually a cake fan. Well when I say cake fan, I mean that even though I love cake, I would definitely have a good cheese board over a pud any day. However I made an exception and made 2 cakes, which I hope will go down well with the crowd I have them in mind for.
My first cake on offer is a bit of an experiment, so fingers crossed it will go down well. As well as the onions, I picked up some luscious looking pears. I remembered seeing a cake recipe the lovely Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall made for one of his books I have sitting in my book shelf. So after digging it out, I started my cake making mission. It is actually an easy one to do and for once I even had help making it (but do have my suspension my commis chef had ideas of bowl licking rather than giving me a hand).
Pear and almond pudding cake
150g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
75g self-raising flour
75g ground almonds
For the caramelised pears:
3 pears (reasonably firm, but not rock hard)
25g unsalted butter
1 tbsp granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 170C/gas 3. Grease a 20cm-diameter springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
Peel, core and quarter the pears, then melt the 25g butter in a large pan over a medium high heat. When it starts to bubble, add the sugar and stir gently until it has dissolved into the butter. Add the pears and cook gently, turning once or twice, until they have softened and are starting to colour – 5-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour and ground almonds together. In another mixing bowl, beat the softened butter with the caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Then beat in one egg at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour mix with each egg to stop everything curdling. Fold in the remaining flour mix until everything is combined.
Scrape into the prepared tin. Arrange the pears on top, but leave any pear juice behind.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Stand the cake in its tin on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes, then release the tin.