For my birthday I was given Jane Hornby’s book What To Bake & To Bake It as it had been on my wishlist for a little while after I had seen it on Kirsty’s blog (thanks Mum and Dad!). Isn’t the cover beautiful?
The recipes are split into 4 sections:
- Simple Family Baking
- Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea
- Special Bakes
- Desserts & After Dinner
There’s also a introductory section covering equipment, ingredients as well as top tips for mastering bread, cakes, biscuits and pastry. Each recipe has clear, beautiful photos for each step which are clear and would help a beginner baker. I’m a fairly confident baker when it comes to biscuits and cakes, but if I were to tackle a recipe like Stollen, I would be really glad to see the recipe in progress on the page!
I had told some work colleagues I would bring in a cake for someone who was leaving, and scanned through the recipe book. When I saw the Sticky Pear and Toffee Pecan bundt cake I knew this was what I wanted to try first, mostly because I hadn’t used my bundt tin before, and secondly because the introduction said that the recipe was flexible so I could change up the ingredients and flavours – so that’s exactly what I did! (So here is a hint that I might use a similar recipe for the next Let’s Bake Inverness meeting!)
Instead of using pecans in the cake, I added an extra pear, and instead of the pecans in the glaze I added toasted almonds to the toffee sauce. Here’s what I did:
Sticky Pear Cake with Toffee Almond Glaze (adapted from the Sticky Pear & Pecan Toffee Cake from What To Bake & To Bake It)
150g soft pitted dates (I’ve just now realised that I used dried and not fresh dates, but I don’t think that matters – famous last words!)
225g soft butter, plus extra for greasing
3 medium firm-ish pears
200g light brown sugar
4 tbsp milk
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Soak the dates in boiling water for at least 15 minutes (I did mine for about 45 minutes). Preheat the oven to 160/140 fan/gas 3. Melt a couple of teaspoons of butter and use a pastry brush or kitchen towel to grease the tin with the butter.
Peel and chop the pears, into smallish chunks.
Drain the dates through a sieve. Then using a food processor (or good old arm power if you are feeling strong), cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the dates and whizz until smooth again.
Add the rest of the ingredients apart from the pears and process to make the batter smooth again.
(Jane makes a good tip here to empty the batter out into a bowl at this point unless you have a large food processor, so you can add the pears)
Once the pears have been combined, spoon the batter into the bundt tin and smooth the top so it is level all the way around.
Bake for 50 minutes. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Another good tip from Jane is to give the tin a good sharp tap on the work surface before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.You can make the toffee sauce below if you are eating straightaway, but I waited until the cake was completely cold.
For the toffee sauce: into a saucepan on a low heat put 45g of butter, 100g light brown sugar and 100ml of double cream. Heat until the sugar dissolves and simmer until the sauce is a smooth caramel sauce. Add 50g of toasted almond flakes to the sauce and stir in, before pouring over the cake.
This was an easy adaptable bake which was quick due to the use of the food processor. I’ll be definitely working my way through the recipes in this book!