Spiced Medlar Loaf
I made my annual batch of medlar mincemeat last week. As always I picked far too many medlars and as a consequence ended up with more purée than I needed for the mincemeat but not quite enough to make a medlar cheese. In these circumstances I usually make a medlar cake. I have a couple of recipes that I use but fancied revisiting the concept.
Perhaps it’s because I had been looking for a festive recipe to make for the Cook the Books get together in Lewes or simply because I love the flavours Christmas evokes but this recipe, with it’s honey and spices, sort of morphed into a kind of a rich, dark gingerbread. I’ve used rye flour to add a degree of nuttiness and help keep the cake moist although you could substitute wholemeal plain flour if you can’t find rye flour. It goes without saying this is lovely with a cup of tea and I suspect it may not be too bad with a glass of mulled wine too (although I haven’t had the opportunity to try this combo it yet).
100g self raising flour
75g rye flour
2 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
110g soft unsalted butter
60g golden caster sugar
60g runny honey
1 tbsp treacle
2 large eggs
3 tbsp buttermilk or sour cream
175g medlar purée (you can find out how to make medlar puree here)
Grated zest of 2 tangerines (or one small orange)
125g icing sugar
1-1½ tbsp tangerine juice or kirsch/brandy (if you want something more fortifying)
2 tbsp crystallised ginger pieces or candied peel to decorate (optional)
Preheat the oven to 170℃. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin.
Sieve the flours, spices, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together. Tip any bran left in the sieve into the bowl.
In a separate bowl place the butter, sugar, honey and treacle. I use my free standing food mixer for this although you could use a hand held electric whisk. Cream these ingredients together then add the eggs one at a time beating well between each addition.
Add the buttermilk, medlar purée and tangerine zest. Beat well before gradually adding the spiced flour (make sure the motor isn’t running too fast when you do this otherwise your kitchen will be coated in flour). Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until risen and springy to the touch.
Allow to cool in the tin before turning out onto a cooling rack. It should be completely cold before you ice it. (I usually have three pairs of hungry eyes glued to the wire rack willing the cake to cool. This has caused me to succumb to guilt in the past and ice the cake before it is totally cold. Trust me, if you do this you will end up with more icing on the work surface than on the cake). To make the icing, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of tangerine juice or kirsch. Add a little more liquid if you need it. You are looking for a thick but spreadable icing. Spoon this onto the cooled cake then spread over the top. You can create a smooth finish by dipping a palate knife into some warm water before spreading over the cake. Sprinkle with crystallised ginger or candied peel to decorate.