Guest Post From Our Former Chief Cider Maker Robert West

There is one farmer who provides more varieties of cider apples and perry pears than any other farmer to Dunkertons Cider – John Tedstone. He is a real orchard enthusiast. Whenever he is about the county and he sees a variety of apple or pear he hasn’t seen before he will take a cutting and his standard trees are often grafted with three, four varieties on the one tree to maximise the number of varieties he can grow.

He also grows many varieties of dessert apples and pears and from summer through autumn and winter he will often visit our house with a bag of seasonal fruit and if we aren’t home when he calls we find a bag of apples by the front door. More often than not they are varieties that are not available in the shops and if we haven’t come across the apple or pear he will recommend whether to eat it as a piece of fruit or that it’d be good in a pie or whatever.

When he called last Friday we were in so told me the pears he’d brought us were Winter Nelis and said they were equally good eaten as they are or cooked for pies or crumbles. However, the crisp winter weather made me feel it was time for a spiced sticky cake, so here is Pear and Ginger Cake (scroll down for the recipe).

winter-nellis4

Winter Nelis

 This is one of the last of the dessert pears to be picked. Grown and developed as a seedling by Jean Charles Nelis in Belgium in the early 1800s. The pear has a firm texture and is aromatic. It is sweet and juicy with a good flavour. Good for eating from the hand or used in cooking.

Hogg’s Fruit Manual, 1884:

Fruit, below medium size; roundish obovate narrowing abruptly towards the stalk. Skin, dull green at first, changing to yellowish green, covered with numerous russety dots and patches of brown russet, particularly on the side next the sun …… Flesh, yellowish, fine-grained, buttery and melting, with a rich, sugary and vinous flavour and a fine aroma.

Pear and Ginger Cake

This makes a dense, sticky cake perfect as a slice with coffee and equally good warm with custard. Don’t be afraid of adding too much butter or sugar to the base – the stickier the better!

Ingredients

4 good-sized, soft Pears, peeled, quartered and cored pear-and-ginger-cake2-1

20 grams  Demerara Sugar

200 grams Butter

200 grams Golden Caster Sugar

2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract

3 Large Eggs

100 grams Ground Almonds

100 grams Self-Raising Flour

1½  Teaspoons of Baking Powder

100 grams Crystallised Dinger finely chopped

Method

  1. Heat the oven to Gas Mark 4 (180 C, 350 F).
  2. Grease well a 20 cm diameter, 8 cm deep loose bottomed cake tin with butter. Scatter the Demerara Sugar over the base.
  3. Place the quartered pears around the base of the cake tin.
  4. Put the butter, sugar, vanilla extract into a mixer/bowl and beat until light and fluffy, a good five minutes or so.
  5. Then add the eggs and the ground almonds and beat for two or three minutes.
  6. Sift the self-raising flour and baking powder into the bowl and beat for thirty seconds.
  7. Stir the crystallised ginger through the mixture.
  8. Spoon into cake tin and level the top.
  9. Put into oven and check after forty minutes with knife into centre. This may take up to an hour to cook. If the top is browning too much before the cake is ready cover with aluminium foil.

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