AS autumn takes its grip, fruit trees in our gardens and open spaces are laden with apples, pears and plums. Along every walk, town or country, hedgerows are groaning with brambles and rose hips. Don’t let them drop to the ground and rot.

Harvest them and store them for winter baking: by the sounds of it, we’re going to have plenty of time. Brambles can be picked over and frozen for jams and jellies.



About 400g firm pears

1 unwaxed lemon, zest and juice

2 handfuls of brambles or blackberries

2-3 tablespoons calvados or pear brandy (optional)

200g caster sugar

160ml olive oil

2 large free-range eggs

350g plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

Good of pinch salt


2 extra pears

1 stick cinnamon broken

into 3-4 pieces.

2 tablespoons demerara sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2lb (1kg) loaf tin, greased and lined, extra-large paper so the cake can be lifted from the tin.


Pre-heat oven 180C/Gas4. Wash and core the pears and, leaving he skin on, dice into 2-3 cm cubes.

Mix with the brambles, lemon juice, zest and calvados and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil and sugar until well combined.

Add in the eggs, one at a time, and beat well to make a light, rich batter.

Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, and salt together and sieve lightly into the batter, using a metal spoon to fold together.

Fold in the diced pears and brambles and their liquid, handling the batter as little as possible so that the fruit is evenly suspended in the mixture.

Tip into the greased tin.

Wash the extra pear and cut it lengthwise into 4-6 slices. Decorate the top of the cake with the pear slices and the cinnamon pieces.

Mix the demerara sugar with the ground cinnamon and sprinkle over the cake.

This creates a delicious crunchy topping.

Bake in the lower shelf of the oven for

65-75 minutes, turning the tin three quarters way through cooking to even baking.

If the surface of the cake is becoming too highly fired put a double sheet of greaseproof paper on top to protect it as the baking finishes.

The cake is ready when the centre is firm to the touch and a skewer placed in the middle comes out dry and clean.

Leave to cool in the baking tin for 15 minutes before using the greaseproof paper to lift it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

This cake can be stored refrigerated for up to 4 days.