Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

The Great British Bake Off is bake on British TV and, like thousands of others, it has reinvigorated my interest in baking! My sister and her colleagues have decided to each choose a week to bake some goodies and take them along to the office to share. The idea is that they bake something that was on the programme that episode. However I’ve made it easier on myself and just stuck to the theme. The idea is to challenge myself to bake a new recipe or come up with a new idea.

This week was biscuit week (week 2)! There was lots of shortbread being made, so this inspired my first attempt at these ‘Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits’.

You may be wondering why I’m starting with week 2, and what happened to week 1! Well I’ve started late so I’m kind of cheating and counting a previous bake (from 4 months ago!) as my week 1 contribution: Black Forest Cake.

I’m also on Twitter @wangsamsin so feel free to follow my progress!

Shortbread Ingredients: (Original recipe from Tesco website)

  • 125g butter
  • 55g Caster sguar
  • 150g Plain flour
  • 50g Ground almonds
Salted Butterscotch Sauce

Salted Butterscotch Sauce

Salted Butterscotch Ingredients:

  • 125ml double cream
  • 30g butter
  • 4 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Butterscotch Method:

  • In a small pan, bring cream to the boil and stir in butter.
  • Turn down the heat to low then the sugar, stirring until the butterscotch becomes smooth.
  • Add the sea salt and mix thoroughly
  • Allow to cool to room temperature so it becomes spreadable but not too thick (if it thickens too much then re-heat to loosen)
  • Left-overs can be stored in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to a month. Use as a sauce for ice cream or pancakes!
Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

Almond Shortbread Method: (I made two batches for these double layered biscuits)

  • Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth with an electric mixer.
  • Stir in the flour and almond to get a smooth paste. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the paste is 1/2 cm thick. For the second batch, I cut a small hole in the centre of each biscuit to allow the butterscotch filling to show through.
  • Cut into shapes, place onto a baking tray.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack. Make sure you bake the ‘holes’ too as they make really cute mini-shortbreads!

To Assemble:

  • Think of a ‘Jammy Dodger’ and you’ll not go wrong!
  • Using the plain biscuit as the bottom layer, spread a layer of butterscotch filling on it then ‘sandwich’ it with a top layer that has a hole in it. Simple!
  • Decorate with some extra sea salt flakes to give a hint of what’s inside…
Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

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Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with a Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

After staring at a bowl of ripening pears and wondering what to do with them (I like them crunchy!) I decided the only thing was to make a cake! I’ve been on a bit of a baking frenzy recently after a couple of months of resting the oven. I blame the gradual change in weather… as the British summer time comes to an end more weekends are spend indoors making comfort food until it’s time to come out of hibernation again…

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

I have a lovely memory of when I had a slice of plum crumble cake in a little tea shop remember exactly how tasty it was. Since then, I’ve really wanted to try a cake with a crumbly topping but haven’t really gotten round to it so when I saw this Delia Smith recipe, I knew I had to give it a try! I’ve never really been one to try Delia Smith recipes so why not start with this one?! 🙂

The recipe is taken directly from the website but I had some missing ingredients and substituted some, so here is what I used…

Ingredients

(For the cake)

  • 110g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbs milk
  • 3 ripe pears; peeled, cored and quartered

(For the topping)

  • 50g melted butter
  • 75g self raising flour
  • 30g dark brown sugar
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 40g flaked almonds
  • icing sugar (for dusting)

Method

Method

  • Mix the flour and  baking powder into a bowl, then add all the other ingredients (except the pears). Whisk together until evenly combined. Spoon the mixture into a prepared tin (I used a 18cm round tin, though the recipe advises for a 20cm tin.
  • Arrange the pears in a circle on top of the cake batter.
  • To make the topping, mix the flour and sugar in a bowl then add the melted butter and lightly crumble it with a fork.  After stir in the nuts, sprinkle the mixture all over the pears and bake near the centre of the oven for 35- 45 minutes at 180 degrees C.
  • Leave it to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before attempting to take the cake out of the tin
  • Just before serving, dust the surface with icing sugar.
Pear and Almond Cake

Pear and Almond Cake

This cake is fairly easy to put together but it looks like you spent a lot more time on it!

There isn’t a lot of cake batter so I would check the cake after 30 minutes of baking to ensure it doesn’t overcook. The cake itself is quite dense but the moisture of the pears helps to lighten it up. The crumbly almond topping gives a nice contrast too.

Overall I liked the final result but adding a flavouring to the sponge next time would make it even tastier?! A little cardamom or cocoa powder perhaps…

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Serve this pear and almond cake warm with a little ice cream or if you’re living in a colder climate some thick custard would make this cake an extra special treat! 😀

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake (Gluten Free and Dairy Free): Clandestine Cake Club meet No. 2

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake with Almond Praline

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake with Almond Praline

I have previously written about the Clandestine Cake Club of which I am a proud member. The mission statement for the CCC is: Bake, Eat and Talk about Cake, so you can see where this post is going… 🙂

The last time I attended a CCC event, I took the Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake and the theme was ‘nouveaux’ -trying out a new recipe or using a new cook book or cake tin etc. This event theme was: ‘the Great British Bake Off! The ultimate baking-together experience. Whether you choose a recipe from one of the winners or something that was featured on the programme, even if you want to recreate the tent in cake, the choice is yours.’

I have to admit that I didn’t actually go with the theme as I forgot all about it! 🙂 The idea was to spend two hours baking a cake that could then be shared with fellow bakers and their friends/family later on. I loved the idea of spending the afternoon baking with people who love cake as much as I do, sharing tips and learning from each other. This is also one of the main reasons I write a food blog! 🙂

So that takes me to the inspiration for my cake. Wendy at Chez Chloe wrote about this recipe for Orange and Almond Cake, and I was absolutely hooked on the simplicity of the recipe!  The recipe if gluten free and dairy free (if you skip the caramel top!) Check out Wendy’s post for a simple step-by-step guide on how to prepare this cake.

With only having 2 hours to bake and decorate a cake, I wanted to go with something very simple but delivers on flavour too. The idea for the additional almond caramel top came from a pear and almond cake that I’ve had in a local coffee shop called ‘Teacup’. I generally love caramel and thought it would be a nice decorative feature that doesn’t rely on the cake being cooled before it can be added on.

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake

So here is how it was done:

Step one: Prepare the cake as Wendy suggests- I used one less egg and an 18″ round loose bottom cake tin. However this meant that the cake took a lot longer to bake, so I would suggest a 23″ round tin.

Step two: While the cake is baking make a basic caramel by simmering 125g butter, 125g butter, 50ml milk and 1/2 tsp sea salt in a saucepan until it is smooth and a deep caramel colour. Mix in 150g toasted almond flakes.

Step three: When the cake is cooked through, pour all the almond caramel mix on top of the cake and bake for another 10 minutes.

Almond Caramel Topping

Almond Caramel Topping

The cake should be served slightly warm, with a little cream if that takes your fancy! I think we could have done with letting it cool a little before cutting into it, however the extra baking time and hungry cake fans meant that this just wasn’t an option! 😀

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

The cake was super moist and the slightly bitter caramel topping did a great job of seeping into the top of the cake to create a lovely balance of flavours. Check out Helena’s official write up of the event!

I cannot finish this post without mentioning the amazing Sean from ‘Cook Manchester’ who provide fully equipped professional kitchen hire for small businesses. I had a good chat with Sean about his business and the kinds of people who have used the facilities. He’s a really inspiring guy who is passionate about  food and helping others to realise their dreams of starting their own food business. Please check out the website and share with friends who may be interested in finding out more about the facilities.

Bake-Along at Cook Manchester

Bake-Along at Cook Manchester

 

CCC-Bake Along

CCC-Bake Along

 

Gluten Free: Pear, Caramel, and Cardamom Upside Down Cake

Pear, caramel and cardamom cake

Pear, Caramel and Cardamom Upside Down Cake

Pear, Caramel and Cardamom cake

It’s coming to the end of the pear season in England. I love pears but only when they are firm and crunchy. Looking over at the fruit bowl brimming with over ripening Conference pears I was trying to think of something simple to do with them. I found this recipe for a French Pear, Almond and Cardamom Cake that sounded delicious! I like the use of cardamom in desserts as it adds a nice background note to often very sweet South Asian and Middle Eastern desserts. I also like the use of almond flour in this recipe as I am trying to cut down on eating refined wheat flour but without cutting down on the amount of cake I can eat! 🙂

I have used a recipe for coconut caramel in a Coconut Caramel Slice recipe and have used this caramel recipe for several recipes since. The left overs from the last batch of caramel slices was in the freezer ready for another use so I decided to use it in this pear cake too.

I also found that the cake batter from the original recipe was not enough as I was using a round loose bottom cake tin rather than a small loaf pan so I have increased some of the ingredients to compensate. This is the recipe I’ve used:

Ingredients

  • 200g of ground almonds
  • 2 ripe pears
  • 100g of butter
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • about 10 pods of cardamom (ground)
  • 3 medium free range eggs

Instructions:

  • slice up pears and layer onto the bottom of cake tin
  • pour over the caramel sauce
  • cream butter and sugar, add ground cardamom and eggs then mix before adding ground almonds and mix well
  • pour cake batter on top of pears and caramel and spread evenly
  • Bake at 180 degrees C for 20 minutes
  • Allow to cool slightly in the tin then upturn onto a dish so it is the right way up
  • Serve with cream/ice cream/custard

I’m fairly happy with the results. The cake was very moist and rich and the individual flavours really held their own! I think next time I’ll put the pears on top of the caramel so they look more caramelised. The cardamom flavour was a lovely addition, if anything I would add more cardamom and reduce the sugar in the cake batter to compensate for the sweet caramel sauce! Yum!

Pear, Caramel and Cardamom cake

Pear, Caramel and Cardamom cake