One of my friends wrote on his Facebook wall this last weekend that winter had arrived in New York. I feel that it has arrived here too. I’ve had to haul out my jerseys and jumpers and have started wearing long t-shirts under my dresses. The air is cold and the wind blows through you, chilling you to the bone. This last weekend it was bright, sunny and freezing. Exactly like a winter’s day in Jozi. That kind of weather makes me long for home. I remember as a first year at the University of Cape Town, where the winters are dull, grey and rain-filled, pining for the winter light and crisp, clear days of home. I feel similarly now. Perhaps Jozi winters are just ingrained on my psyche?
In order to combat this feeling of melancholy, I’ve baked up a spice cake today. Spice cake is warming. It soothes and uplifts. Today it is dull, grey and cold. This cake is filled with ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. All the warming spices. This is comfort food at it’s best. I could eat slices of this and only this for the next several months. Fortunately I have every excuse too, what with Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up. (I went into Fortnum and Mason’s last week when I was in London and was sort of shocked, and secretly rather excited, by their Christmas floor.) This recipe I’ve adapted from the latest Olive magazine. But they’ve adapted it from Annie Bell’s new book (which is on it’s way to me) so this is an adaptation of an adaptation. I left out the walnuts and used regular milk and a little yoghurt, not soured milk. I also poached my own pears but feel free to use a tin of drained pears.
Pear Spice Cake
Adapted from Olive November 2012
50g unsalted butter
100g golden caster sugar
3 pears, poached and halved
125g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground ginger
a pinch ground cloves
1/4tsp ground nutmeg
125g golden caster sugar
90g black treacle
125ml milk plus 1tbsp plain yoghurt
60g unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 180C.
In a saucepan, heat the butter until melted then stir in the sugar. Mix until it combines and the sugar dissolves slightly.
Spoon this onto the base of a springform tin. Layer the pears cut side down on top. Place the springform tin onto a baking tray.
Measure out the flour, spices and bicarb and set aside. Whisk together the sugar, black treacle, milk and yoghurt. Then add in the egg followed by the butter. Make sure everything is well combined before adding the butter.
Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the liquid ingredients. Fold everything together and then give it a good beat for about a minute. The mixture is quite fluid.
Pour it over the pears. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 10 minutes before unmoulding onto a plate. I like to eat it whilst it’s still warm.