Thursday, 14 November 2013

Pear, Raisin and Maple Squares

It's Lady Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge time again and this month's ingredients were pears and maple.  How exciting, more ingredients I have never used before, let alone in combination!

Now, I am wondering if I am developing a habit when it comes to these challenges.  Just like last time, I ended up making two different things: one that I was not happy with and therefore does not get to grace the blog and then a second which is absolutely adored by everyone who gets to eat it.  It is madness.  Hopefully, this will not become a regular thing.  It can be a bit exhausting, as well as disappointing for a perfectionist like me.

Admittedly, this month's failure was still edible and did taste good according to my guinea pigs.  The problem was the textures didn't gel.  With both recipes, I was substituting a lot of ingredients.  So the original recipe I had found the recipe was for apple cookies.  Now, as you know by now, being British, when I hear the word 'cookie' I think crunchy, not soft.  So I was expecting a crunchy, crumbly biscuit filled with pear and drizzled in a maple syrup glaze.  What I ended up with was soft cakes with chunks of hard pear in and drizzled with the glaze.  It did not work and I was annoyed.  Even though they got eaten and were enjoyed, the texture thing was something everyone agreed on so it was out.  It wasn't getting used and I needed to come up with something else instead.

Now, the magazine I was using for the ghost cookies was still sitting out during this dilemma.  So I decided to flick through it idly and brood.  Along the way I stumbled across a recipe for apple, raisin and honey squares.  It did not look too complicated and there were oats involved so it was more likely to yield the crumbly, crunchy texture I was after.  Dare I try and mess with the recipe?  Yes I dared!  I like that I am getting confident enough to do such things.  So out went the apple and honey, in went the pears and maple syrup.  I also decided to spice up with crust on the squares with some spices that compliment both of the challenge ingredients: ginger, cardamom and a little nutmeg.

The result?  Fantastic!  They came out so well and everyone loved them.  That was more like it.  And I even got a lovely written review from one of the lovely teachers are Markinch Primary which arrived inside the tin I had sent them in:

"Your latest creation was FAB!  I'm not a fan of ginger but loved it in these cakes.  The buttery outside was really moreish - consistency was soft, moist and crumbly - lovely!  The pear and fruit was gorgeous.  I ate up all the crumbs in the tin. 10/10 Thank you."

Isn't that just so lovely?  Plus it tells you everything you need to know about how they taste, which is better than me just telling you. 

Recipe - inspired by Rachel Allen and the Kerrygold Community Recipe e-book via Baking Heaven Summer 2012
Makes about 25
  • 225g/8oz self-raising flour
  • 225g/8oz porridge oats
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1.5 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 225g/8oz butter
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 90ml/3fl.oz maple syrup
  • 2 dessert pears (about 185g/6.5oz)
  • 115g/4oz raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and grease and line a 23cm/9inch square cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Peel, core and finely chop up the pears.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, porridge oats, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom.
  4. Put the butter, caster sugar and 2 tablespoons worth of the maple syrup  into a saucepan and melt over a medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent it from getting too hot.
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
  6. Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.
  7. Mix together the pears, raisins and remaining maple syrup and then distribute evenly over the oat mixture in the tin.
  8. Cover with the remaining oat mixture and smooth over.
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the tin for 10-15 minutes.
  11. Remove from the tin and cut into 25 squares before placing them on a wire rack to finish cooling.


    1. Wow, they look so good. What a nice change for a bar instead of brownies! (not that I don't LOVE brownies!) What a fun treat. HUGS!

    2. I love these bars. I am a huge maple fan and I know I would devour these in an instant.

    3. I needed a new fall bars recipe. Thanks Becca!