The taste of coffee still on my tongue, I head upstairs , pull an over-sized jumper from over my head and step into the shower, arms outstretched. As my hands hit the water, a fine, icy spray makes goosebumps across my arms and stomach. I stand as far as I can from my hands given they are attached to the ends of my arms, waiting for them to warm up. I know the year has officially turned when my hands and feet get so cold they turn steaming water into this cold mist.
To my utter delight, while walking the other day, I looked down to see two perfect spheres clinging together, claw-like leaves cradling them: “Cobnuts!” I’ve never seen them growing wild before and was beyond delighted by the tree. After straining, we managed to find a few nestled in the branched just above our heads. We collected just enough for me to use here but if you can’t get hold of them, macadamia nuts are the closest.
Today is my papa’s birthday. Yesterday was the autumn equinox. So many celebrations! There must be cake. The pear and rose hip cupcake recipe I posted here is possibly one of my favourite cake recipes all time so I used it as inspiration. On a note, I just love the way nut brittle looks. The rich umber glows in the sunlight.
- 100 g unsalted butter, softened
- 200 g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp ginger syrup
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 1/2 pears, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp stem ginger pieces, roughly chopped.
- 240 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
For the filling and icing…
- Apple butter (recipe or use apple purée/apple sauce)
- 250g natural quark cheese
- 40g icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
For the nut brittle…
- 40g sugar
- 1 tsp chopped cobnuts (can substitute macadamia)
- 1/2 tsp chopped crystallised ginger
First make the nut brittle. Roughly chop the nuts. Place them in a dry frying pan over a low heat and toast until they colour slightly.
Place a piece of baking parchment out on one side. Heat the sugar in a pan. Don’t stir but give the pan a shake now and then to make sure the sugar doesn’t burn. Once all of the sugar has melted, tip in the nuts and ginger. Stir to coat everything evenly and pour mix onto parchment. Spread out and leave to cool and solidify. Any caramel solidified on the pan can be removed with boiling water.
Next grease and line a deep, 9 inch cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, (356F).
Cream together the butter and sugar until very light. Beat in the egg, honey and syrup.
Gently fold in the pear and stem ginger pieces with a metal spoon.
Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb and ground ginger and fold in gently.
Spoon into the prepared tin and cover with tinfoil to stop the top browning too quickly. Bake on a middle shelf for about an hour.
Leave to cool and use a bread knife to slice in half so you can fill it.
For the cardamon quark filling, beat together quark, cardamom and icing sugar.
Once the cake has cooled completely, spread half of the cream on the lower half of the cake. Top this with all of the apple butter. Place the other half of the cake on top and top this half with the remaining cream. Top with shards of nut brittle.