Apple Bourbon Pecan Cake

Apple bourbon pecan cakeThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine.

Serves: 8-12   –   Prep time: 20 mins   –   Cook time: 70 mins

Ingredients: 225g (7oz) unsalted butter, softened; 220g (7oz) plus 1 tblsp caster sugar; 220g (7oz) plus 1 tblsp dark brown soft sugar; 3 eggs; 280g (9oz) plain flour; 1 tsp baking powder; ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda; 1 tsp ground allspice; 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon; 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg; ¼ tsp ground cloves; ¼ tsp ground ginger; ¼ tsp ground cardamom; ½ tsp salt; 3 tblsp bourbon; 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks; 120g (4oz) shelled whole pecans, toasted and roughly chopped

  1. Heat the oven to 160oC (gas mark 2-3).  Grease a 20cm (8 in) round cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.  Using an electric mixer with paddle or beater attachment (or an electric whisk), beat the butter and both sugars until the mixture is almost light in colour and fluffy in texture.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until thoroughly combined before adding the next. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix again for 1 minute.
  2. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, all the spices and salt and sift twice. Add one third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated.  Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Pour the bourbon over the apples in a bowl and mix.  Fold the apples and pecans into the cake mixture.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
  3. Bake in the hot oven for 55-70 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached, and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly instead of sinking.  Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin for 10 minutes.  Slide a table knife all around the edge to loosen the cake, then remove from the tin. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.

Cake tin:

Recipe taken from this book:

Skate with Hazelnuts

Cook Time: 20 mins

Ingredients: 125g (4oz) butter; 2 tsp hazelnut oil; 750g (1 1/2lb) skate wings, cut into 4 pieces; 30g (1oz) flour; 2 tbsp chopped parsley; 60g (2oz) hazelnuts, roughly chopped; 2 tbsp white wine vinegar.

  • Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan. Dust the skate pieces with flour on both sides and fry in batches for 2-3 minutes on each side, according to the thickness of the skate. Remove from the pan and keep warm on individual plates.
  • Add the parsley and the nuts to the frying pan, turn up the heat and cook until the nuts brown. Add the vinegar, stirring it in well, then pour the nutty sauce over the fish. Serve immediately.

* Accompaniment: Continue the nutty theme by serving this fish with a green salad tossed in a hazelnut oil dressing.

Strawberry Custard Meringue

Hazelnut meringues are sandwiched with a custard filling for a memorable dessert

Prep:  40 mins;  Cook:  35-50 mins baking, plus cooling

Serves:  8

Ingredients:  3 eggs, separated; 175g (6oz) caster sugar; 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar; 75g (3oz) ground hazelnuts

Filling and topping:  1 1/2 tsp custard powder; 1 tbsp sugar; 300ml (1/2 pt) milk; 350g (12oz) strawberries, hulled and halved; 284ml (1/2 pint) pot of double cream, whipped

  • Preheat the oven to 190oC/375oF/Gas 5.  Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.  Draw a 20cm (8in) circle on each.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff but no dry. Gradually whisk in the sugar.  Whisk until very stiff and shiny.  Whisk in the vinegar.  Fold in the ground hazelnuts.
  • Divide the meringue equally between the circles on the baking sheets and spread evenly.  Bake for 35-40 mins, or until crisp on the outside.  Swap the baking sheets halfway through to ensure even cooking.
  • Ease the meringue off the paper and leave on a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Mix the custard powder, sugar and 2 tablespoons milk.  Heat the remaining milk until boiling, pour onto the custard and stir well.  Return to the pan.  cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until thick.
  • Beat a little custard into the egg yolks.  Return to the pan and heat gently, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes to cook the yolks.  Remove from the heat, cover with wet greaseproof paper and leave until cold.
  • Invert one of the meringues onto a large serving plate.  Spoon over the custard.  Top with half the strawberries, two-thirds of the cream and the remaining meringue.  Decorate with the rest of the strawberries and cream.

Hazelnut Torte

Serves:  10;  Prep:  25 mins;  Cook:  30-35 mins;  Cals per portion:  297

This very moist nutty torte is similar to a mousse – it will rise during cooking and then sink but don’t worry!

Ingredients:  5oz/150g caster sugar; 5oz/150g butter, softened; 5 eggs, separated; 5oz/150g ricotta cheese; grated rind and juice of 1 lemon; 6oz/175g hazelnuts, finely chopped and toasted; 1 1/2oz/40g plain flour; 5tbsp/75ml apricot jam; icing sugar for dusting; 9in/23cm cake tin.

  • Preheat oven to Mark 5 / 375oF / 190oC.  Grease and line base and sides of tin.  Cream together 4oz/125g sugar and the butter until soft.  Stir in the egg yolks.  In a separate bowl, beat together the cheese, lemon rind and juice and 5oz/150g of the hazelnuts.  Stir into creamed mixture with the flour.  Whisk egg whites until stiff.  Gradually beat in remaining sugar.  Using a large metal spoon, fold a quarter of the egg whites into the creamed mixture, then carefully fold in the remainder.  Turn into tin and level the surface.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until risen.  Cool slightly then turn onto a plate.
  • Heat the jam and 1 tbsp/15ml water, then brush the sides of the cakes and cover them with the remaining 1oz/25g of hazelnuts.  Lay equal-sized strips of greaseproof paper on top of the cake, sieve icing sugar over the top and remove paper.

Apricot and Almond Tea Loaf

Makes:  16 slices;  Prep:  15 mins;  Cook:  1 ¼ hours;  Cals per slice:  254

Ingredients:  225g (8oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped; 75g (3oz) almonds, chopped; 250g (9oz) plain flour; pinch of salt; ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda; 90g (3 ½ oz) butter; 200g (7oz) caster sugar; 2 large eggs, lightly beaten; finely grated rind of 1 orange; ½ tsp orange flower water; 100ml (4 fl oz) milk.  Syrup:  juice of 1 orange; 4 tbsp granulated sugar

  • Mix apricots, almonds and 45ml (3 tbsp) flour.  Sieve remaining flour with salt and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, orange rind and orange flower water.
  • Gently fold in alternating spoonfuls of flour, milk and apricot mixture until evenly mixed.  Spoon into a greased and lined 1 kg (2lb) loaf tin.  Bake for 1 ¼ hours.
  • For syrup, gently heat juice and sugar until sugar dissolves.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Pierce cake in several places with a fine skewer and spoon over hot syrup.  Leave to cool in tin.

Coffee and Walnut Cake

Makes: 12 slices; Cals per slice:  365

  • Sift 225g (8oz) self raising flour and 5ml (1 tsp) baking powder into a large bowl.  Add 225g (8oz) each caster sugar and soft margarine or butter, and 30ml (2 tbsp) coffee essence or strong black coffee.
  • Beat with an electric whisk until mixture is pale and creamy.  Divide between 2 20cm (8 in) round, greased and base lined cake tins.  Level surfaces with a palette knife.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 190oC, 375oF, Gas 5 for 25-30 mins until risen, golden and firm to the touch.  Leave in the tins for 5 mins, then turn out on to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
  • To make the icing, place 175g (6oz) unsalted butter in a bowl and beat until soft.  Gradually beat in 350g (12oz) icing sugar and 30ml (2 tbsp) coffee essence or strong black coffee until smooth.
  • Sandwich the two cakes together with a quarter of the icing and spread the remainder over the top and sides of the cake.  Decorate with walnut halves.

Tip:  To freeze cake in slices, place greaseproof paper between each slice, then wrap whole cake in foil or place in a freezerproof container.  Each slice will take about 40 mins to defrost.