salted maple, pecan and poached pear cake
This impressive but easy layer cake is filled with spiced poached pears and pecans, and topped with a silky smooth salted caramel. It’s a bit like an autumnal victoria sponge, and keeps for two days in the fridge. If you like, you can halve the sponge and cream quantities to make a two-layer cake instead for a smaller gathering.
1 HOUR 20 MINUTES + COOLING SERVES 12-14 | EASY
butter 350g, softened, plus extra for the tins
golden caster sugar 350g
eggs 6 vanilla bean paste or extract 2 tsp
self-raising flour 350g
pecans 150g, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
ground cinnamon 1 tsp
ground ginger 2 tsp
nutmeg a grating
dessert pears 4 small, peeled, halved and cored
caster sugar 50g
perry or cider 200ml
cinnamon stick 1/2
whole cloves 4
bay leaf 1
double cream 300g
icing sugar 4 tbsp
vanilla bean paste 2 tsp MAPLE CARAMEL
salted butter 100g, cut into cubes
double cream 100ml
maple syrup 100ml
sea salt flakes ½ tsp
1 Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter two 20cm sandwich tins and line with baking paper. Beat together half (175g) the butter and half the sugar with an electric whisk until pale, then add 3 of the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Mix in half of the vanilla, flour and spices, along with a small pinch of salt. Fold in half the nuts and divide the batter between the tins, smoothing the tops with the back of a spoon. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until well risen and a skewer inserted into the middles comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Clean the tins and repeat this step with the remaining sponge ingredients to make a total of four sponges.
2 Put the pears and all of the remaining poached pear ingredients in a small pan and top up with water to cover the pears if needed. Bring to a simmer over a low-medium heat, then cover and cook gently for 20-25 minutes or until the pears can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove the pears using a slotted spoon to a plate lined with kitchen paper and leave to drain. Continue simmering the liquid, uncovered, until reduced by a third – it should be a light syrup. Leave to cool, then remove and discard the whole spices.
3 For the caramel, put all the ingredients in a small pan. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until thick and golden – it will thicken further as it cools. Cool completely and chill if it needs to thicken more.
4 For the mascarpone cream, whisk together the mascarpone, double cream, icing sugar and vanilla to soft peaks using an electric whisk – do this carefully, as the mixture will reach the soft peak stage quite quickly.
5 Set three of the pear halves aside and slice the rest. Brush each sponge with a little of the poaching syrup. Put one sponge on a cake stand or plate, spread with a third of the mascarpone cream (leaving a small gap at the edge to allow for spreading) and top with a few slices of pear and 1 tbsp of the caramel. Repeat twice, then top the cake with the remaining sponge, and drizzle with the remaining caramel so it drips down the sides. Top with more pecans and the reserved pears.
PER SERVING (14) 908 kcals | fat 67.7G saturates 38.1G | carbs 62.9G | sugars 43.4G fibre 2.6G | protein 8.8G | salt 1.2G
cinnamon apple crumble sheet cake
We’ve combined two of our favourite things in one easy spiced bake: the comfort of an apple crumble with a fluffy sponge underneath. Swap the apples for pears or add a few blackberries dusted in a little flour, or sprinkle flaked almonds or chopped hazelnuts into the crumble topping, if you like.
1 HOUR + COOLING | SERVES 10 | EASY
unsalted butter 200g, softened, plus extra for the tin
golden caster sugar 100g
soft light brown sugar 100g
eggs 4 self-raising flour 200g
vanilla extract 2 tsp
baking powder 1 tsp
ground almonds 100g
soured cream 100g
cooking apples 2 medium, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm pieces
eating apples 2, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm pieces
lemon juice 1 tbsp
soft light brown sugar 100g
ground cinnamon 1 tsp
mixed spice ¼ tsp CRUMBLE
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