Pear and cardamom crumble cake

Pear and cardamom crumble cake

pears

When does autumn start in your book? Do you stick to the official start on the 21st of september? Or does a certain event signify the start of grey days followed cozy evenings? A lady in my dance class recently told me that she refuses to acknowledge autumn until she is back from her late september sunny holiday. When I was younger, I considered summer to be over when school started.

I love the colours of the trees this time of year. The chestnuts on the ground which promptly get picked up by my kids and put in my handbag for safekeeping. The first scarves and gloves early in the morning. A cup of tea in the evening. The smell of our old radiators as they get switched on after months of rest. My Converse being put to the back of the shoe pile because they may be stylish but they are definitely not rain and puddle proof.

Autumn always makes me crave warmth in everything I eat or drink. Cinnamon in my porridge. Ginger in my tea. Cloves in my rice. And cardamom in my baking. I just want to wrap myself in a blanket of spices at this time of year. What’s your favourite autumn moment?

Warming pear and cardamom crumble cake

Pear and cardamom crumble cake

Server 6-8

Ingredients:

60g soft butter

50g sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla sugar

75g flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp cardamom

2-3 ripe but firm pears, pealed, cored and cubed

For the topping:

30g flour

25g sugar

30 ice cold butter in cubes

3 tbsp chopped, blanched almonds

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

2. Grease and flour a baking tin about 20×26 cm

3. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Add the egg and beat well until completely incorporated.

5. Mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom.

6. Pour the mixture into the tin and press it into the corners. The mixture will be thick and will spread out thin to fill the whole tin.

7. Top the mixture with the pear cubes.

8. Make the topping by using your fingers to rub the ice cold butter cubes, flour and sugar together until it forms crumbs. Then add the nuts.

9. Sprinkle the topping on top of the pears.

10. Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes.

11. Let cool in the tin and cut into squares.

ENJOY!

Pear and cardamom crumble cake perfect for autumn

Red current crumble cake

It’s summer! I want to jump and dance around! I want to eat lots of ice cream and drink lots of fresh juices. I want to feel the warm summer breeze on my bare shoulders as I cycle down our street. Oh yes, I want to grab this moment, this start of summertime, this transition from cold and grey to bright and sunny and hold it ever so tight.

a square of red current crumble cake

These moments when the seasons change are moments I love. It marks the end of one thing and the start of another. I remember as I child, autumn meant the start a new school year. I was always excited about the first day of school (the excitement disappeared about 24 hours later though). Then winter would come and with it the smell of burning wood and the feeling of cold, numb fingers. And just when I would get fed up with darkness and cinnamon scented candles, spring would wake up and tap me on the shoulder reminding me that it’s her turn. She’s a bit of everything, one day she’s feeling hot and the next she just doesn’t want to make an effort. And when she’s done, summer takes over. Suddenly, windows are left open all the time, socks get banished to the back of the drawers and flip flops make their way onto our shoe rack. I think I might just get up from my desk now and do a little joyous dance…

5 squares of red current crumble cake with icing sugar

But for my friends and blogger colleagues who live south of the equator it’s the start of hat-and-scarf-time. They are about to huddle together to keep warm. Iced tea becomes hot tea and ice cream… well, ice cream will always be ice cream and is always appropriate no matter what time of year it is.

red current crumble cake on a grey napkin

This cake is for all of us. For those of us waking up from our winter sleep and for those who are about to start one. Which one are you?

Red current crumble cake squares

Red current crumble cake

(makes about 16 squares)

Ingredients for the cake:

120g soft butter (1/2 cup)

100g + 1 tbsp sugar (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp)

2 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla sugar

150g flour (1 cup)

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

280-300g red currents (about 3 cups) fresh or frozen. If using frozen, defrost in a sieve and catch the juices. You don’t need the juices, just drink them!

Ingredients for the crumble:

60g flour (1/2 cup)

50g sugar (1/4 cup)

60g ice cold butter cut into cubes (1/4 cup)

20g oats, not quick-cooking (1/4 cup)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

2. Grease and flour a baking tray (approx. 20x30cm or 8x11inch).

3. In a standmixer with a paddle (or use a hand mixer and a large bowl), cream the butter, 100g of sugar and the vanilla sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix thoroughly until the eggs are completely incorporated.

5. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until the mixture is thick and sticky.

6. Use a spatula to spread the mixture in the baking tray. Press it into the corners and flatten the surface.

7. Spread out the red currents on top of the mixture and lightly press them down a bit.

8. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar over the red currents.

9. Make the crumble by mixing the flour and sugar with a wooden spoon in a bowl.

10. Add the ice cold butter cubes and use your finger to rub it all together until it starts to look like small breadcrumbs. Then, add the oats and mix.

11. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the red currents.

12. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 min or until the crumble has turned golden.

13. Let the cake cool in the baking tray. Once cooled, cut into squares.

(I tried to include cup measurements. Please let me know if you notice any mistakes)

ENJOY!

2 squares of red current crumble cake

one square of red current crumble cake

Pear with speculoos (Biscoff cookie) crumble

Happy 2015!

So, who has a new year’s resolution? More specifically, who has a new year’s resolution that revolves around food? I do. My new year’s resolution is to BAKE MORE 😉

I spent Christmas with my family in Belgium and brought back lots of Belgian goodies that I showed you in this post. On our last day, we went to the seaside and visited my grandmother’s childhood home. She was a marvellous woman my grandmother, and sometimes the only one who really understood me. We used to visit her and my grandfather every Sunday and she would make meatloaf and pears stewed in brown sugar. An absolutely beautiful combination.

This dish is inspired by my grandmother’s pears and by my Belgian roots. Introducing: Pear with speculoos (or biscoff cookies as they are called in some countries) crumble.

IMG_2858This is a lovely, sweet dessert that can be put together in the space of 30 minutes. Baking it takes about the same amount of time.

IMG_2808I would like to talk about brown sugar for a minute . In Belgium and in the UK where I used to live,brown sugars are available in every supermarket. In Germany, which is my current home, I struggle to find them. They come in several shades depending on the amount of molasses. They are soft and not grainy at all (unlike the brown coloured unrefined sugars which are grainy). In this recipe I have used both light and dark brown sugar which I “imported” from Belgium.

IMG_2812Making the crumble is easy and quick. Just use your hand to rub it all together and remember to use cold butter.

IMG_2846My crumble came out a little darker than I wanted. I recently bought an oven thermometer and have tried baking according to its indications… I think I need to send it back… Yours will no doubt come out nice and golden!

IMG_2857

Recipe for 6

6 pears

50-75g dark brown sugar (depending on how sweet your pears are)

for the crumble:

100g light brown sugar

100g plain flour

50g speculoos/biscoff cookies (or any other crunchy ginger or cinnamon cookie)

100g cold butter cut into cubes

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Butter an ovenproof dish.

Peel the pears, core them and cut them into cubes.

Add the dark brown sugar and mix until all the pear cubes are coated.

Put the mixture in the ovenproof dish and set aside.

Crush the cookies by putting them in a plastic freezer bag and bashing them with a rolling pin or the back of a wooden spoon. Small chunks amongst the crumbs are OK.

In a bowl, add the cookie crumbs, the light brown sugar, flour and butter. Use your finger tips to rub it all together until it resembles breadcrumbs. Again, some bigger chunks are OK.

Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the pears.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the crumble is a golden brown colour.

Leave it to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

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