It's started to really feel like Autumn. The leaves are turning crisp and rust coloured and the mornings are damp and chilly. I saw a group of children swapping shiney conkers at the back of the bus the other day, which filled me with a rather irrational sense of joy. Coffee shops have started selling pumpkin spice lattes, which is probably the 21st century London equivalent of eating seasonal produce (I can't stand a latte, personally. They always sound nice but fail to live up to expectation). It's the season for woolly hats, open fires and battered umbrellas. Cake, of course, never goes out of season, but this one seems particularly appropriate for Autumn.
Loaf cakes always feel quite humble and unpretentious. You can't really make them glamorous or fancy; they are, basically, a big rustic block of cake and if that doesn't appeal to you then I'm afraid everything I thought I knew about the world is a lie. And this flavour combination, it was just meant to be together. Sort of like chocolate and peanut butter, or chocolate and caramel, or chocolate and orange, it just works splendiferously well.
8 cardamon pods
250g unsalted butter
200g golden caster sugar
4 small eggs/3 large eggs
4 tsp fresh ginger, grated
200g self-raising flour
2 tbsp milk
2-3 small, ripe pears, peeled, cored and finely chopped. The chopped pear should weigh about 180g
60g chocolate chips
For the ganache (optional)
80g double cream
1 tsp honey
45g dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
Crush the cardamon pods to release the small black seeds inside. Toast them lightly in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for about 3 minutes, then grind the seeds with the golden caster sugar in a spice grinder or food processor.
Cream together the butter (softened) with the sugar until pale. Beat in the egg yolk and reserve the egg white in a separate bowl.
Fold the flour, ginger, chopped pear, milk and chocolate chips into the butter, egg and sugar mixture.
Bea the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the cake batter. Pour into the tin and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The cake is cooked when a toothpick or uncooked spaghetti (yes, really) poked into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
To make the ganache, heat the cream and honey in a saucepan until just boiling, then stir in the chopped chocolate until melted and smooth. Spread over the cake whilst warm and then leave to cool.