Pull up a chair, help yourself to a coffee…

Coffee cup

…welcome to a curious table. Now that you’re here, can I cut you a slice of cake?

Cake and fork

It was a couple of weeks ago now that I went to a local food swap. I took along some homemade bread, some apples and some home grown veg. I came away with apple crumble, delicious chocolate cupcakes, cheese scones and a jar of oven dried pears. The crumble, cupcakes and scones quickly disappeared, but two weeks on I was still looking at the jar of dried pears and wondering what to do with them.

What would you do?

Cake is usually a good option. I used to make a pear loaf with dried pears soaked in Earl Grey tea, but couldn’t find the recipe. Instead I’ve adapted a recipe for fruited gingerbread from an old and trusted recipe book, adding pears and some dark chocolate. Pears, ginger and chocolate make a pretty good flavour combination. We like to have a slice of this cake with a cup of strong coffee. But if that’s not your thing, try it with a cup of tea… or a glass of red wine.


Pear, Ginger & Chocolate Cake

100g unsalted butter

100g soft light brown sugar

100g black treacle

200g plain flour

1½ tsp ground ginger

50g dried pears, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes then chopped (retain the soaking water)

2 knobs stem ginger in syrup, fairly finely chopped

50g dark chocolate, chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp milk

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the icing –

50g icing sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 170oC, 325F, gas 3. Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.

Put the butter, sugar and treacle into a small pan and heat gently to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar.

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and stir to combine, then stir in the chopped pears, ginger and chocolate. Pour the butter mixture into the bowl, along with the egg and 3 tbsp of the water used to soak the dried pears. Mix all the ingredients until there’s no dry flour left.

In a small bowl mix the milk and bicarbonate of soda, then immediately mix this into the cake batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the baked cake to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cake is cool, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the lemon juice. Spoon the icing onto the cake and smooth it over the top.

The cake keeps well in an airtight container, in fact the flavour gets better after a couple of days – if you can leave it alone that long.


17 thoughts on “Pull up a chair, help yourself to a coffee…

  1. I love your new blog and the idea of sharing food round a huge table. I dried some pears in the oven a few weeks ago and then just ate them with yoghurt! Your cake looks a delicious way to use them


    1. Thanks Christina. The food swaps are really simple… you take along something home baked, homegrown or foraged, set out your wares on a table and then browse the goodies everyone else has brought along. Swaps are arranged through cards next to each item – you add your name and what you’re offering in return. The events are a great way to meet people, and I usually come away with new ideas for recipes or ways to grown food too.

      Liked by 1 person

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