Did you know it’s National Baking Week? Most of the time, when I know I have to bake something, I feel nothing but a sense of dread. As I’ve said before, I’m not much of a baker – anything that requires even just a little bit of finesse… well, it just isn’t really for me.
That’s why I love these crumble cakes so much. They look so impressive, they taste amazing, and they are so, so easy to make. I know the non-bakers amongst you are raising an eyebrow at me right now, but honestly – it’s nearly impossible to muck these things up.
This recipe is adapted from the apple crumble cake I shared ages ago (nearly two years ago, in fact! Blimey.), which was a recipe I found in my late Granny’s hand-written recipe book. Since it’s such a special recipe I thought it would be nice to give it a new lease of life as this caramel pear crumble cake, perfect to see you through the cold months (alllll those cold months we have ahead of us). This time I used wholemeal flour to give it a really hearty, autumnal feel.
I call this a ‘crumble cake’ rather than just a plain old cake because the mixture is nothing like a normal cake mixture. It looks like this:
In other words, it’s more like a crumble mixture (hence the name!). Rather than having to pour the mixture into your cake tin (inevitably ending up with it spilling out the bottom where the springform tin hasn’t been put together properly), you just press the mixture in. And as you can see, you don’t even need to be careful about not having lumps – even if you’re as ham-fisted as I am, you’ll end up with a great cake.
Then, load your cake up with spiced pears, get it nice and trashy with some luscious caramel sauce, and top it with the remaining crumble mixture.
It’s pretty magical really, the mixture on the bottom becomes quite dense and pastry-like where it’s pressed into the tin, whereas the stuff on top stays nice and loose and crumbly.
Served with a bit of custard and an extra drizzle of caramel sauce, it makes an amazing dessert. I can’t imagine anyone turning their nose up at this…
By the way, almost all of the lovely props you can see in these photos come from HomeSense – the cute little plates and pastry forks, the little round custard jug, the rustic white tray, the blue cake tin, and the gorgeous ruby red tablecloth (aka my Christmas tablecloth forever more). I’ve actually not shopped at HomeSense much before, and it’s not the first place that would come to my mind if I needed new crockery. But actually, I spent a very happy hour browsing there the other day (yes, I do mean a full hour). I never realised how much cool stuff they do!
Kitchen equipment is just the beginning – they also sell really unique furniture (and I don’t mean ‘unique’ as in ugly, I mean really cool stuff that you wouldn’t find elsewhere), quirky artwork, unusual food products and, at the moment, the most amazing Christmas decorations (is it time for the C-word yet?). They also have some gorgeous ornaments, which I can’t wait to get my mitts on as soon as my house stops looking like a building site (we’ve got some work going on… pretty much all the time…). I’m so going to be one of those ladies with kitsch ornaments everywhere – and I mean kitsch in the best possible way!
The prices at Homesense are really reasonable too, actually. They do have some more high-end items, but most of their products are very affordable. They’re part of the TK Maxx family, if that gives you more of an idea.
In other words: new favourite shop, fo’ sho’. Make sure you’re following me on Instagram, because I’m sure when I pick up some more cool bits I’ll share them over there!
- 2 pears, sliced
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 100 g unsalted butter, diced (~ 1 cup diced) - plus more for greasing
- 250 g wholemeal self-raising flour (~ 1 2/3 cups)
- 100 g caster sugar (~ 1/3 cup)
- 1 egg
- 4 tbsp caramel sauce
Preheat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).
Add the sliced pears to a large saucepan, along with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook over a medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft (add a small dash of water if the pears seem to be sticking).
Meanwhile, add the diced butter and self-raising flour to a large bowl, and rub together using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and egg, and mix thoroughly with a fork until well combined (but still breadcrumb-like).
Grease an 8-inch loose-bottomed springform cake tin with butter, and add about two thirds of the cake mixture. Press the mixture into the base of the tin, allowing it to rise up the sides just a little.
When the pears are soft and any excess liquid has cooked off, transfer them into the cake tin on top of the base. Spread them out into an even layer, and drizzle generously with caramel sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cake mix on top (you don't need to press it down at all).
Bake for around 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm or cold.
Note: nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose.