Coffee Halva, Pear and Walnut Loaf Cake with Salted Tahini Butter

Cakes

It’s no secret that I love anything laden with sesame, so was thrilled when Sesame Kingdom sent me some of their delicious coffee halva, halva spread and tahini. I’m going to incorporate each of the products into a bake, and thought I’d start off with the halva, which I’ve used in brownies, ice cream and chocolate cakes before. I thought this time it made sense to try it out with some seasonal fruit and nuts and it works really well in this understated loaf format (especially warm, thickly sliced and smothered in salted tahini butter!).

Ingredients

  • 175g soft unsalted butter
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tbsp instant coffee, dissolved in 2tbsp just-boiled water
  • 175g self raising flour
  • pinch salt
  • 75g walnuts
  • 2 Conference pears, peeled and diced
  • 150g coffee halva, mine was by Sesame Kingdom (plain would work too)

For the tahini butter

  • 75g butter
  • 75g tahini
  • large pinch salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a large loaf tin. 
  2. Place the butter and both sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and cream together until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition and adding a small amount of the flour if the mix looks like it may curdle. 
  3. Fold in the remaining flour, salt and coffee using a large metal spoon. Add 2/3 of the walnuts and pear pieces and fold again. Scrape half of the batter into the tin then sprinkle over half of the halva. Add the remaining batter then top with the last of the halva, walnuts and pear pieces.
  4. Bake for 34-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  5. Beat the butter, salt and tahini together until light. Serve the loaf warm with a generous helping of tahini butter.

 

My Chocolate Show Stopper

Cakes

This chocolate cake might look a little intimidating on first inspection, but it is actually made using several very simple techniques. With my instructions you can’t go far wrong with the methods and once you’ve made it once you’ll have a go-to show stopper for Birthday gatherings and dessert spread centre pieces.

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So, the first component is the fudgy chocolate sponge mix. For this you’ll need:

300 plain flour, 400g caster sugar, 2tsp baking powder, 2tsp bicarbonate of soda, pinch salt, 80g cocoa powder, 3 eggs, 250ml milk, 140ml vegetable oil, 3tsp vanilla extract, 100g dark chocolate (melted), 200ml boiling water

Preheat the oven to 170c (fan) then grease and line two 18cm loose bottom cake tins.

In a large bowl, mix together the plain flour, caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder with a wooden spoon.

Put your chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a simmering pan. Meanwhile in a jug, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract.

Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and leave to cool slightly. In three additions, add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing well as you go. Once smooth, pour in the melted chocolate and combine. Last of all, slowly pour the boiling water into the bowl and gently stir until smooth (the mix will be very liquid, but this makes the cake deliciously moist and fudgy).

Split the cake mix between your two tins and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Once cooked leave to cool on a rack.

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While your sponges are baking, start on your striped jaconde sponge (this is made up of a decorative chocolate paste and a simple, light brown sponge mix).

For the decorative paste, combine: 60g butter, 60g icing sugar, 2 egg whites, 40g plain flour, 40g cocoa powder

Simply combine these ingredients in a small bowl. Now, here is the tricky bit.

Line a 10x12inch shallow baking tray with baking paper (ensure the baking paper is big enough to line the walls of the tray too). Cut a separate piece of baking paper to the exact size of the bottom of the tray (10×12) and place on top of the larger piece.

Take the 10x12inch rectangle of baking paper and spread your decorative paste all over it in a thin 2-3mm layer, all the way to the edges.

Now, with a chop stick (or similar tool with squared off end) draw diagonal stripes through the paste so you are left with lots of chocolate lines separated by the lines of baking parchment (this creates the stripey effect on the outer edge of the cake).

Put the rectangle with the stripes on back into the lined baking tray and place in the fridge to firm up for 20 minutes while you make your jaconde sponge mix.

And for the jaconde sponge you’ll need: 2 egg whites, 5tbsp caster sugar, 40g ground almonds, 60g icing sugar, 2 whole eggs, 20g plain flour, 20g butter (melted)

Up the oven temperature to 220c (fan). Now, in a clean bowl whisk your whites until stiff peaks are formed. Slowly add your caster sugar, still whisking, until a glossy meringue mix is achieved. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk your almonds, icing sugar and whole eggs until pale and fluffy. Fold in the flour, then the meringue mix. Finally, pour the melted butter in slowly and very carefully combine. The mix should be light and airy.

Retrieve your baking tray from the fridge. Pour the jaconde sponge mix evenly over the stripes of paste, using a spatula to make sure the gap between each chocolate line is filled. Place in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until pale brown.

Once baked,turn the tray upside down onto a work surface and peel away the baking paper. You should be left with a thin rectangle of jaconde sponge with a pin stripe pattern across it. Leave to cool slightly.

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Finally, for the easy chocolate frosting, you’ll need: 150g softened butter, 400g icing sugar, 200ml double cream, 150g dark chocolate (melted), 4tbsp cocoa powder

Combine the butter and icing sugar, loosening with the double cream as you go along. Add the melted dark chocolate and the cocoa powder then whisk vigorously until smooth and workable.

Now, for the assemblage…

Cut your two chocolate sponges in half and layer on top of each other with a generous spreading of chocolate frosting between ( I only used three layers as I didn’t want to create a huge cake as it’s not for a special occasion!).

Cover the outside of the four layer (or three if you like) cake with frosting and smooth to the desired effect.

Now, cut your jaconde sponge into two long rectangles. Measure your cake to gage the exact dimensions you will need to cover the outside of it. I needed two 4.5x12inch shapes. Don’t worry if you cut your jaconde a little too large, you can always trim it.

Wrap the sponge rectangles around your frosted cake and press onto the sides to secure. Trim if necessary. Now, for a final flourish, pipe little stars of the remaining fudge icing all over the top and scatter with glitter.

Enjoy!