Since I’ve had children, I do try my best to change cake/biscuit recipes so I take down the amount of sugar and I try to ramp up the amount of wholemeal flour etc. I’ve made my own choccy lollies with high cocoa content chocolate and pumpkin/sunflower seeds. I’ve cut down the sugar, and sneaked wholemeal flour into a famous Nigella Lawson chocolate loaf. But I know how far to push it. My children start to refuse biscuits and cakes if they go the Gwynnie side of worthy.
Hugh F-W’s Ten Minute Cookies have been our standard biscuit recipe for years now. But over these years, I’ve experimented with taking down the sugar and today, I made them with a third of the flour made up of ground up oats (I whizzed them in a very powerful blender with a mill attachment, I’m sure something similar would work, too). Nobody noticed any difference. They were still delicious. A tiny bit chewy. More substantial. I really liked them. If you’ve never made these biscuits before you may want to start with the original, and work your own way down the sugar scale. Or you may want to jump right in. The original recipe plus amendments, is here.
I think these biscuits are as good as they can be, whilst still being a bit bad. And I think that’s a good thing.
I am a fiend for cutting recipes out of magazines and filing them in big Muji PP document files, which I then mark things like ‘Puddings’ or ‘Everyday’ or ‘Christmas’. People who come to visit look at my bookshelves and I know they think I’m bonkers. I AM bonkers. But, it does mean I have custom made books.
And it was in such a book, called ‘Cakes’ that I found a recipe I’d cut out years ago. Most unassuming it was and by the lovely Nigel Slater. It involved pears. I’m usually a bit suspicious of people who say, when I ask them what sort of cake they’d like me to make them, “something with fruit in it”. I think a cake is a cake and if you want fruit, eat fruit. But there are exceptions, of course, and this is one of them.
And it is an exceptional cake. I must have eaten half of it all by myself which is really rare for me. I customised it by using:
a) ready toasted and chopped hazelnuts which seemed like such a luxury it made me feel quite heady. Because my packet came in 100g, I then scattered 20g of the chopped hazels onto the crumble topping and…
b) the cake calls for 165g of flour and I substituted half of that wholemeal, adding a quarter teaspoon of baking powder as the wholemeal flour I have is plain.
c) I also used about 40g of wholemeal in the crumble topping. The cake didn’t suffer for it at all. By that I mean it didn’t become overwhelmingly worthy. But I do like to avoid 100% white flour cakes if possible. The thought of adding wholemeal flour may scare, but as long as you don’t overdo it and do it in appropriate cakes – i.e. NOT ones like Victoria sponge – then it just adds a lovely dimension to your baking and a good flavour.
This is lovely warm, with cream. It reheats easily with a ten second blast per slice in the microwave. I don’t know why it’s so addictive exactly but it is. A superior cake. Eat it and cry gently.