September Reads / Blackberry, Pear & Ginger Cake

Everything is good about September. The morning light is glorious and there is a slight nip in the air. Woollen blankets have been taken out of storage and now grace the end of my bed, waiting to be pulled up to keep me cozy on colder nights. I’m already embracing the candle light, a few beeswax candles on the dining table while I eat or work and I’m wrapping myself up in my big chunky cardigan, sinking my feet into my felt slippers. I feel alive in Autumn. I’m more creative, happier in my own skin and generally am more at peace with the world.

I also love what Autumn provides for my table. From soups and stews to pies and crumbles, nothing beats the flavours of fall. This week I started by baking this blackberry, pear and ginger cake. It’s simple to make, is incredibly light in texture and utterly delicious. If you are quick you will still find some blackberries fruiting, however, you can find them in the market or supermarkets at this time of year. We picked several large bowls of blackberries a couple of weeks ago and froze them in batches. If you are going to use frozen berries, defrost them for a good couple of hours before you bake the cake and make sure you drain off any excess water or juice before you add them to the mix. This cake is perfect served with an afternoon cuppa and a splash of cream.

Ingredients -

130 g blackberries, fresh or frozen (defrost before using)

2 pears, peeled, cored and chopped

3 medium free range eggs

185 g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

135 g soft brown sugar

1 - 2 teaspoons ground ginger

150 g unsalted butter (softened)

Method -

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Grease and line a 20 cm cake tin.

Cream the butter and the sugar.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a little flour if necessary to prevent curdling.

Add the plain flour and baking powder and gently fold into the mixture.

Add the chopped pears and 1 teaspoon ground ginger (if you like a really gingery cake add 2 teaspoons), fold once more

Transfer to the cake tin

Sprinkle the surface of the cake with the blackberries

Bake in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin before transferring to a wire rack.

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I promised in my last post that I would share some of my favourite summer reads but I sadly didn’t get the opportunity to write it. So I’ve included them in this post as most of these books have been read in late August and throughout September. I bought all of these books at the magnificent Toppings Bookstore in Ely when we visited in August. As before, I’m offering you the chance to read one of them too as part of my ‘pay it forward’ project. You can read more about that here if you are interested. If you’d like to receive any one of these titles below, then please leave me a comment below with a contact email, Instagram account info or you can DM directly on Instagram @jenlittlebirdie so I can get in touch to arrange postage. UK only and I’ll be randomly selecting a recipient at the beginning of October.

‘No one is too small to make a difference by Greta Thunberg - this is a tiny book but a very important read. It’s a collection of Greta’s eleven speeches she has given since 2018 at the UN, the World Economic Forum and the UK Parliament. A powerful book that is suitable for both adults and teenagers and I recommend everyone reads a copy.

‘Signs for lost children’ - Sarah Moss - I’ve only just started this novel so I can’t really say too much about it at the moment, so I’ve included the blurb below. I will say that I’m enjoying what I’ve read so far.

‘Only weeks into their marriage a young couple embark on a six-month period of separation. Tom Cavendish goes to Japan to build lighthouses and his wife Ally, a doctor, takes work at the Truro asylum where she must struggles against the terrible conditions imposed on the patients, the mores of late Victorian society and her own demons. With only letters sent across the ocean to sustain them, the foundations of Ally and Tom’s marriage soon begin to slip, and a happy reunion becomes ever more elusive’.

‘The Bird’s Nest’ - Shirley Jackson - I’ve read most of Shirley Jackson’s books including ‘We have always lived in the castle’ and ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ and they are always impressive. This novel is the story of one woman who suffers from multiple personalities and the Doctor who is trying to treat her. It’s told from different characters point of view including the woman’s multiple personalities and is a difficult read in places but it’s a fascinating insight into a very troubled mind.

‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’ - Sara Collins - this has been one of my favourite reads this year and I was disappointed when I finished it as I found it completely gripping. Set in 1826, this is the story of Frannie Langton, a slave girl from Jamaica who is sent to England to work as a servant for a couple who she is then accused of murdering. It is a great Victorian gothic novel for fans of Sarah Waters and a fantastic debut for author Sara Collins. I’m excited to see what she writes next.

‘The Cry of the Owl’ - Patricia Highsmith - I’m a huge fan of Highsmith’s works and I’ve been working my way through all of her novels for the last few years. If you haven’t ever read any, then she is the author of ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ and ‘Strangers on a train’ which many of you will know as great movies. All of Highsmith’s novels involve deeply flawed characters and this one is no exception as it is the story of a prowler who could also be a psychopathic murderer. But all is not what it appears.

‘Uncommon Type’ - Tom Hanks - a collection of seventeen short stories that are all linked by one thing, a typewriter. Each story is funny, gentle and moving. I don’t usually read short stories but I enjoyed these immensely. Tom Hanks words and characters remind me a lot of Anne Tyler’s work so if you are a fan of simple yet complex character studies, you’ll enjoy this too.

Thanks for reading. Back soon. Jen x