It's not often my mum an I are in the same country for Mother's Day. But this year it just so happens that we are. Mother's Day is two days away and I've already made a cake that a few years ago she would have been amazed I even tried to make.
It's strange because over the years I've developed an intuition with cooking and flavour; what works well together and what really doesn't. It's only in the past year or so though that I've been able to do that with baking. When I had just started out, I made chocolate cakes (some very good ones if I do say so myself) and Victoria sponges. Then I started to adapt things like carrot cake and coffee cake to flavours that I liked and, in a sense, grew up with.
This cake is, in a way, an homage to all those bakers who are starting to find joy in cracking a few eggs and presenting something rather beautiful to the people they love. Whether it's for a celebration or to raise a few bob for charity, that joy passes from the baker to the eater, which means everyone is happy.
Pear and Banana Celebration Cake
1 very ripe banana, mashed
2 very ripe pears, peeled, cored and mashed
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g self raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mixed spice
For the buttercream:
400g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp cream cheese
For the butterscotch:
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp spiced rum
1/2 cup double cream
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Whisk together the sugar and butter until it's light and fluffy then add the eggs one by one, whisking all the time until it's a light, smooth mixture. Beat in the fruit and then add the dry ingredients and mix together until the flour is just combined. Grease a 9inch cake tin well, lining the bottom with a piece of greaseproof paper. Pour in the cake mix and level off with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Insert a skewer into the cake at the end of this time to make sure it's cooked the whole way through. Leave it for a couple of minutes extra if it's not but don't forget to set the timer!
While the cake is in the oven, whisk together all the ingredients of the buttercream until it's a very light and fluffy mixture. It should be almost white, the yellow from the butter completely gone. The buttercream will not taste like cream cheese icing. The cheese just offsets the sweetness of the sugar and the saltiness of the butter.
Toast the hazelnuts in the oven when the cake comes out. I toasted them for 3 minutes, shook them a little, then put them back in the oven for 3 more minutes. When they come out, rub them in a tea towel or a piece of kitchen roll and this will peel them with no faff at all.
Finally, in a non-stick pan, add the butter for the butterscotch, the sugar and the rum. Let it boil until you have a nice golden syrup. Take it off the heat and add the cream and stir to mix immediately.
Now put it all together! Once the cake has cooled, pile on the buttercream and make a nice, neat spiral with a small palette knife. Start in the middle and swirl around to the edges. Lightly crush the hazelnuts and sprinkle them on top. Drizzle over the butterscotch in a nice pattern. I crisscrossed mine but you could swirl it if you want. If you have some, sprinkle over some dried rose petals. It's not essential but it makes it look pretty.
Happy Mother's Day!