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Cover: Make your cake…and eat it

Recipes with pecans

03Oct 12

Pecan Squares

Pecan SquaresThese deliciously satisfying pecan squares are a fantastic solution if you’re looking for an interesting dessert for a dinner party or brunch.  Use the best quality pecans you can get and keep a close eye while baking to avoid burning.

I also suggest you try my apricot and pecan cake. It makes a fantastic breakfast option!


Pecan Squares
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
A fantastic solution if you're looking for an interesting dessert
  • 225g butter at room temperature
  • 150g brown sugar
  • ½tsp salt
  • 375g flour
  • 115g butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 6tbsp honey
  • 2tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2tbsp double cream
  • ¼tsp salt
  • 200g pecan halves
  • ½tsp vanilla extract
  2. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  3. Line a deep baking dish with parchment.
  4. Using an electric mixer or a food processor, mix the butter and brown sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the salt and mix to combine.
  6. Add the flour a third at a time on medium speed and continue mixing until the dough starts to form large clumps.
  7. Press the dough into the baking dish lined with parchment to form a crust about ½ centimetre thick.
  8. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork in 10 places or so.
  9. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes.
  10. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes.
  11. Transfer pan to a wire rack for cooling.
  13. Reduce the heat of the oven to 160ºC.
  14. Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, double cream and salt in a pot over medium heat.
  15. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture sticks to the back of a spoon, about 1 minute.
  16. Remove from heat and stir in the nuts and vanilla extract.
  17. Pour the filling into the cooled crust.
  18. Bake in the 160º oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the filling starts to bubble.
  19. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  20. When cool, carefully lift out of the pan and place on a cutting board.
  21. Cut into 5cm squares.
  22. Can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.


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14Jun 12

Apricot and Pecan Cake

Apricot and Pecan CakeThis apricot and pecan cake is a dense butter cake that updates the classic fruitcake for modern times.  As with most cakes containing fruit and/or nuts, be sure to coat the apricots and pecans with flour before adding them to the batter.  This well help to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake during baking. (Also try this chocolate and apricot wrap cake.)



  • 185g pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 185g dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 170g cake flour
  • 110g butter, softened
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 185ml sour cream
  • Icing sugar for dusting



  • 60ml dark rum
  • 120ml orange juice



  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Grease and flour a 25cm x 15cm x 7cm loaf pan or line it with baking parchment.  Set aside.
  3. Combine nuts and apricots in a small bowl and toss them with 3 tablespoons of the flour, making sure to coat them well.  Set aside.
  4. In an electric mixer set on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until light in colour.
  5. Add vanilla extract and mix well.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure proper mixing.
  7. Combine the flour and the baking soda. Add this mixture to the butter mixture gradually, at low speed, alternating with the sour cream, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix just until blended.
  8. Stir in the nuts and apricots and blend well.
  9.  Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  10.  Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  11.  Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack.
  12.  In a small cup, mix together the rum and orange juice and pour evenly over the hot cake.
  13. Cool the cake in its pan for 15 to 20 minutes and then remove from the pan and continue cooling on the wire rack until cool.
  14. Remove and discard baking parchment.
  15.  Dust with icing sugar, slice and serve.  Freeze any leftovers.

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Cooking Time:  55 minutes

Serves:  6-8

Difficulty:  Medium


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04Apr 12

Poached Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple upside down cakeLately I’ve been trying to get away from standard chocolate and white cake varieties and getting more into fruit-based cakes, like this almond cake with orchard fruits.  I guess I’m trying to fool myself into thinking they’re a bit healthier, which they are, albeit only slightly!  This poached pineapple upside-down cake is one of the more difficult ones I’ve tried and I have to admit that my first attempt didn’t turn out very well.  However, I gave it another try and it came out beautifully!  The poached pineapple offsets the brown sugar and pecans perfectly and its appearance is quite impressive too.

So arm yourself with patience and give this one a try. You won’t be disappointed with the result!


For the poached pineapple:

  • 5 fresh pineapple slices, poached and drained.
  • 400g granulated sugar
  • 200ml water
  • 50ml strained orange juice

For the sponge:

  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 6tbsp hot milk
  • 2 eggs, yolks separated from whites, whites stiffly beaten
  • 125g flour, sifted
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 8tbsp butter
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 65ml pecans, chopped into small pieces
  • 5 maraschino cherries


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. To poach the pineapple, stir the sugar and water together in a deep, heavy saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Use a dampened pastry brush to wipe down any stray sugar crystals that stick to the sides of the pan.  When the sugar has dissolved, bring the syrup to the boil.  Add the pineapple slices and simmer for 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Gradually add half of the granulated sugar and all the milk to the egg yolks, beating steadily.
  4. Thoroughly mix in the rest of the granulated sugar, the flour and the vanilla extract.
  5. Fold in the beaten egg whites.
  6. Melt the butter in a large frying pan (about 23cm in diameter) over medium heat.
  7. Add the brown sugar and blend well.
  8. Remove the frying pan from the heat and arrange the pineapple slices and pecans symmetrically on top of the butter and sugar mixture. Place one cherry in the middle of each pineapple slice.
  9. Cover these ingredients with the batter and place the pan in the preheated oven.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  11. Flip the cake out immediately onto a serving dish.
  12. Let the cake cool before serving.

Prep Time:  25 minutes

Cooking Time:  30 minutes

Serves:  8-10

Difficulty:  Difficult

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23Mar 12

Spicy Pumpkin Cake

Spicy Pumpkin CakeUntil quite recently, I was thoroughly convinced that the idea of putting vegetables in desserts was completely and utterly insane.  I just couldn’t get my head around the reasoning behind what seemed to me to be a ridiculous notion!  Carrot cake?! Courgette loaf?! Madness!

In any case, my opinion has changed, and it all started when I tried this Spicy Pumpkin Cake at a friend’s dinner party.  It was absolutely scrumptious!



You can use canned pumpkin purée for this recipe, but if you want it to be truly authentic, you should use fresh pumpkin.  To do so, slice, peel and seed 500 grams of fresh pumpkin and simmer until just tender (about 15 minutes), then push trough a sieve to make the purée.


  • 120 g butter, softened
  • 250 g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 625 g sifted cake flour
  • 12 g baking powder
  • 1 1/2 g baking soda
  • 2 g salt
  • 5 g ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 g ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 g ground ginger
  • 175 ml buttermilk
  • 175 ml pumpkin purée
  • 150 g finely chopped pecans


  1. Preheat the oven to 180º C.
  2. Butter and flour two cake (or bread) pans and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.
  5. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice and ginger.
  6. Sift the above a second time to make sure they are well blended.
  7. Add the sifted flour and spices mix to the egg and butter mixture and stir for a few seconds.
  8. Add the buttermilk and mix well.
  9. Add the chopped pecans and pumpkin purée, mix thoroughly.  Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure proper mixing.
  10. Pour half of the batter into each of the buttered and floured cake pans.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  12. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove them from the pans and put them in the refrigerator for 45 minutes, or until cold.
  13. Serve. (Try with whipped cream or frosting for extra sweetness.)

Prep Time:  50 minutes

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty: Difficult

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