This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Baking with Pears

Just two miles down the road there is a wonderful fruit farm and at this time of year the apples and pears are really coming into their own.

We love fresh pear juice and treat it as a seasonal delight.     Now is the season.    Every now and then I feel a little guilty at sending those beautiful golden fruits through the juicer, so today I decided to bake with them.

The nights are getting cooler, so are the mornings, so I wanted something slightly warming.   Pear, Ginger and Walnut Cake fits the bill.

It was actually a recipe which called for pecan nuts, but I didn't have any of those in the pantry.  Walnuts seemed the obvious substitute.       The recipe also called for preserved ginger, nope, none of that either - so I used crystallised instead.

Had I worn my glasses, I would have read that everything needed to be chopped up reasonably small - I didn't wear my specs so everything was chopped to a rather rustic standard.

The original recipe can be found on bbcgoodfood.com and is called Sticky pear and ginger cake  (food/recipe etiquette dictates that I should not give their recipe in full).

It is one of the easiest cakes I have ever made, although you do have to allow a fair bit of time for the first stage of the process to cool down for an hour.

Other than that it is a doddle, no creaming the fat and sugar, they get melted  in a saucepan, along with dates, ginger and milk.   Really simple stuff!   The rest of the ingredients, flour, spices, etc are stirred in later.   It is that easy!

The baking time is quite protracted, about one hour and twenty minutes, but the batter is packed with delicious things - pears, walnuts, ginger and dates, so it's not surprising really.

The original recipe now calls for the cake to be drenched in a brandy syrup - wouldn't you know it, no brandy - so I just served it as it came.   I imagine it would be excellent with the brandy syrup.

People came back for seconds, so I guess they enjoyed it.

There are so many pears just waiting to be picked so I think I'll be posting a few more pear recipes yet.

It's also time to pick elderberries to make elderberry rob and rosehips to make syrup.

Busy times.


  1. Look at the size of that pear. Reminds me of those from the orchards of my childhood. And the cake of course is a 'wish I was there' moment!! Looks rich and moist.

  2. Hi Linda, Those pears are quite wonderful. It is quite sad to see how few people visit the farm to pick their own - the quality of the fruit is excellent and the prices are very low. Much of their fruit ends up in cider and perry, also made locally. It was the simplest cake to make and perfect for a treat, after a couple of hours working outdoors, on an autumnal day.

  3. well, it's simply beautiful and packed with pears!... I have a similar recipe for a somerset apple cake that just packs in those chunks! Lovely cake... yes please, you know where I live!

    1. Hi Dom, Somehow cake doesn't seem quite so sinful when it is packed with fruit and nuts. Belated birthday greetings to you and Andy! xx

  4. PS I'm going to drench mine in booze!!

    1. I'll be doing the same, Linda. Brandy is on my shopping list!

  5. I'm sure your cake tastes as good as it looks. I'm going to look up the recipe and have a go at making it. Few pears on our tree this year, but I'm sure they are plentiful in the shops right now. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hello Linda P, This recipe has proved to be really popular - with or without the brandy syrup...although the 'with' version certainly makes the adults very happy. Pears are at their best right now, so I hope you find some beauties!