Tag Archives: pear cake

Almond and pear cake and how to disable a despot

Picture me, happily driving along in my nice new car — I don’t know much about cars, but I can tell you it is very clean and white, and that the seats do back massages — when out of nowhere someone barks ‘keep both hands on the wheel’. I drive on, now nervously gripping the wheel more tightly, and the voice says ‘you are driving over the speed limit’. I’m pretty sure that I left my husband at home, my son is back in Bordeaux, and the dogs aren’t allowed in the new car (and anyway they don’t bark orders; they’re far too busy chewing the upholstery). The orders continue: ‘stop swearing at other road users’, and ‘are you sure you brushed your hair this morning?’ Is this a case of bossy karma? For the first time in my life I’m forced to open an instruction manual; why can’t I find ‘how to disable the despot’ in the index?

I wake up confused every single morning, and it takes me a good few minutes to sort things out in my head. As if ‘where am I?’ and ‘what day/month/year is it?’ weren’t taxing enough, I now have to contend with ‘am I allowed out of the house?’ and, if so, ‘do I need to fill out a form?’ and then ‘on how many counts do I need to avoid the police if I do venture out?’. And now, to add insult to injury, I’m the proud owner of an autocratic car, that has so far managed to dodge being silenced (the manual got the better of my puppy-like attention span). I’m very thankful France isn’t a nanny state, because ‘today you can hug three adults and a toddler inside, while turning your head away’ would send me into a tailspin.

Almonds are a great source of fibre and protein, and are a great source of vitamin E, selenium, zinc, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins.

Research by the British Journal of Nutrition shows that moderate nut consumption is beneficial, not only for heart health, but also substantially helps reduce hunger and cravings. A study in China showed that eating almonds resulted in lower levels of insulin and glucose, which is good news for diabetes sufferers. Almonds are also beneficial for gut health, as they alter the composition of the gut microbiome.

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

2 large pears, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons Amaretto

150g cane sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons almond extract

150g einkorn flour (you could use ordinary flour, or spelt flour)

50g ground almonds

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

Half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

75ml melted virgin coconut oil

75ml olive oil

Handful flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare and grease a loaf tin. Lightly poach the pears in the Amaretto and a small amount of water. Once the pears are soft (about 5 minutes), drain the excess cooking juice and set aside.

Beat the sugar and eggs together until homogeneous, add the almond essence and then gradually add the flour, ground almonds, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add the melted coconut oil and olive oil, mixing well. Lastly, stir in the poached pears, transfer the mixture to the tin and add the flaked almonds on top. Bake for 35/40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Pear cake and an exhausting email exchange

pearcake

I engaged in a slightly surreal email exchange with a ski instructor recently. I wanted to reserve a skiing lesson for Léo for this weekend – a lesson in which he would hopefully learn a) how to leave the other mountain users vertical and intact, and b) that posts, signs (particularly ones that say ‘slow down’) and barriers are there for reasons other than to be uprooted while flying past. I asked for a one hour private lesson on Monday morning, Mr Ski Genius replied that he could offer a two hour lesson on Sunday afternoon. So I enquired about a two hour lesson on Monday afternoon, which he was afraid he couldn’t do, but he could perhaps fit in a one hour lesson on Sunday morning, assuming that I was the person that had originally wanted to book for Tuesday afternoon. There were numerous other variants discussed far too tortuous to go in to, including, if I remember correctly, the possibility of a one and a quarter hour lesson from midnight on Sunday, which was obviously very tempting. Anyway, the upshot is that I lost the will to live and conceded defeat. We’re just going to wing it and give him a call when we get there to try to arrange (although frankly, the thought of a ‘phone conversation with him brings me out in a cold sweat). I just hope that his lessons are less convoluted than his emails. Failing that, we can pray that the other skiers and signposts are more robust than last time. It could all prove to be very interesting…

I bought a variation of this ‘moelleux aux poires’ in a patisserie when we were last skiing. Anything tastes good after a day on the slopes, particularly with Léo, but this was still delicious when I made it at home.

Ingredients

3 pears, cut into eight

1 tablespoon rum

1 vanilla pod

100g cane sugar

50g butter

50g coconut oil

3 eggs

75g rye flour

75g buckwheat flour

50g powdered almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Poach the pears in a little water with the rum and vanilla pod. Blend the butter, coconut oil and sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs one by one, and then the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and almonds and combine well. Add the drained, poached pears and gently incorporate into the mixture. Transfer to a pre-buttered medium-size loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.