Last week's ridiculously nice weather had me - like everyone else I know - bolting for the nearest park, with a rapidly warming bottle of rosé and a squashed tub of guacamole in hand, determined to spend every last millisecond outside in the rarer-than-rare summer heat.
'Apparently it's 15 degrees,' someone declared at about eight o'clock at night. 'Nonsense,' we all responded, shivering slightly.
This recipe is inspired by Rachel Khoo's savoury loaf cake. If picnic weather ever returns, it's the perfect contribution. Don't listen to the nay-sayers, savoury cake will make you friends. Pear adds a sweet, fresh note to gloriously nutty Gruyère, crunchy walnuts and sage, and no one* in their heart of hearts can resist the sight of toasty, golden-melted cheese.
One very important thing to remember when making this recipe is to measure out too much Gruyère by accident. The extra will have to be eaten as you cook, which is, of course, a great shame for everybody involved.
* Maybe Cliff Richard. Or the Pope. But probably not even them.
Pear & Gruyère Picnic Cake
- 250g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 200g Gruyère cheese, grated
- Large handful shelled walnuts, chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried sage (or fresh, even better: finely chop the leaves and increase the quantity slightly)
- 4 free-range eggs
- 125ml olive oil
- 100ml milk
- 1 tablespoon creme fraiche
- 1 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pear, peeled, cored and sliced
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin. (A silicon one works well for this).
- Combine the flour, baking powder, 150g of the Gruyère, walnuts and sage into a large bowl and stir to combine. (Save the rest of the cheese for the top later).
- In a separate bowl whisk the eggs until frothy and gradually add the olive oil, milk and creme fraiche, whisking well. Season with the salt and plenty of black pepper.
- Add the egg to the flour mixture in batches, stirring gently to combine.
- Pour into the cake tin and smooth out evenly.
- Arrange the slices of pear across the top of the cake, preferably so that there is one per slice, pressing each down lightly.
- Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, until the cheese is golden and the cake feels firm.
- Cool in the tin.
- Cut large slices for yourself and and anyone else who wants a look in... especially Cliff Richard and the Pope.