Dark chocolate torte
Quince and walnut crumble cake
3 medium quince (about 450g pre-prep weight) 150g golden caster sugar, plus 3 tbsp for the quince
150g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
150g white spelt flour 150g ground almonds 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 pinch sea salt flakes, crushed
100g shelled walnuts, roughly chopped
1 large egg Golden icing sugar, for dusting (optional) Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/gas 6. Peel, quarter and core the quince. Cut each quarter into about eight 5mm slices. Put the slices on a baking tray, cover with 200ml boiling water and three tablespoons of golden caster sugar, and seal with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, until just soft, then remove and set aside.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 20cm springform cake tin and line with parchment paper. Reduce the oven to 180C (160C fan)/gas 4.
By hand or with a mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the butter, sugar, flour, almonds, baking powder, cinnamon and salt until they form a breadcrumb consistency. Add the walnuts and the egg, and mix until smooth.
Spread just under half the mix on the bottom of the tin, arrange the quince slices on top in a sunshine pattern, then crumble over the remaining mix, lightly pressing it into the quince: don’t worry if some quince is visible.
Bake for 45 minutes, turning the tin halfway through baking, until the top is golden brown and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes, then dust with icing sugar, if you like. You could serve it with the remaining quince baking juices, if you like, or with cream, creme fraiche or yoghurt – but it’s delicious on its own.
Prune, date and raisin tea cake with spiced apple jam
For the jam 500g bramley apples (about 2 large ones), peeled, cored and cut into 2cm pieces 50g light brown muscovado sugar ¼ tsp each ground cinnamon and mixed spice
For the cake
120g each raisins, pitted prunes and pitted dates 1 tea bag
100g dark brown muscovado sugar 160g barley malt extract 250g plain wholegrain wheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder 1 pinch sea salt flakes, crushed
2 large eggs Salted butter to serve, plus extra for greasing, or oil
For the jam, put the apple pieces, light brown sugar and spices in a small pan with 100ml water and mix well. Put the lid on and turn the heat to medium. When mushy, take the lid off, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 more minutes to reduce – you want a jammy consistency – then set aside.
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/gas 4, grease a standard loaf tin, and line with parchment paper. Cut the prunes and dates into thirds and put in a bowl with the raisins. Cover with 200ml boiling water, drop in the tea bag and stir.
Put the sugar and malt extract in a pan, and warm until the sugar dissolves. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the centre, add the eggs, malt mix and fruit, including all the soaking water and any extra juices from the tea bag (discard the bag). Mix well, pour into the tin and bake for an hour, turning halfway, until dark golden brown and firm to the touch – a skewer to the centre of the cake should emerge clean. Leave to cool slightly, then serve warm, spread generously with butter and apple jam.
Pear, hazelnut and dark chocolate torte
150g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing 250g hazelnuts 150g dark chocolate (85% cocoa solids) 1 pinch sea salt flakes, crushed
1 tsp vanilla extract 50g runny honey 350g pears (about 2), eg comice, peeled, quartered and cored 5 large eggs, separated 75g light brown muscovado sugar
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/gas 4. Grease the base and sides of a 23cm springform cake tin with butter, and line with parchment paper.
On a baking tray, toast the nuts for five to seven minutes, until they are starting to turn golden.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of justsimmering water, and add the salt and vanilla.
In a food processor, process the nuts until mostly ground, but some larger pieces remain for texture. Add 150g to the melted chocolate and butter.
Add 50g honey to the rest of the nuts and process to a rough paste. You will need to scrape down the edges a few times.
Once ready (don’t worry if it isn’t totally smooth), add to the melted chocolate mix, along with the egg yolks, and stir well, removing any lumps.
Semi-whip the egg whites, add the sugar, and continue whisking to soft peaks. Fold the whites into the chocolate mix a third at a time, then pour the mix into the prepared tin.
Make each pear quarter into a fan shape by cutting each into 5mm slices, but still attached to the top by about 1cm. Arrange the segments evenly around the edge of the cake, and bake for 25 minutes, or until just set. Leave to cool for 30 minutes in the tin, then remove and serve.
Clementine, and polenta syrup cakes
500g clementines (about 5-6), plus 100g clementine juice (from about 2-3 fruit)
Olive oil (or lighttasting oil), to grease 4 large eggs 150g golden caster sugar or light brown muscovado sugar 120g polenta 100g ground almonds 1 tsp baking powder 30g honey
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses 1 pomegranate, seeds removed (optional) Edible flowers, to finish (optional) In a medium saucepan, cover the clementines with boiling water. Put a lid over the pan, bring back to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for one and a half hours. If the water dries out, top it up with more boiling water. Drain and let the fruit cool.
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/gas 4 and grease the bottoms and edges of a 12-hole muffin tin with oil. Cut 12 x 5cm squares of baking parchment to fit in each muffin mould, so the mix doesn’t stick to the tin. Remove any pips from each cooled clementine, put in a food processor and whizz to a puree. Add the eggs, sugar, polenta, nuts and baking powder, and blend again until smooth – a few small lumps are fine.
Divide between the moulds and bake for 25 minutes, turning the tray halfway through baking – the tops should be golden brown and just firm to the touch.
In a small pan, bring the clementine juice, honey and molasses to a boil, then simmer for about three minutes. Pierce the cakes with a fork or skewer and douse well with syrup. Leave to cool, then remove from the tins. Decorate with pomegranate seeds and edible flowers, if you want, and serve.