a slice of cake with pear rum and raisin

I know every cake I make is my new favourite, but this one? Damn it’s a good cake.

It has Barbados holiday vibes, with burnt sugar notes coming through from the soft light brown sugar (which really is a flavour gift all on its own), the dark rum adding vanilla and spice and heady perfume.

As it’s feeling very autumnal in the Daffodil Soup kitchen this week, I chose pears and walnuts to pair with this dairy-free recipe, but you could equally use apple, banana, carrot, even parsnip or courgette … anything that needs clearing from the fruit bowl or veggie drawer. I recommend the sultanas as they give little pockets of intense sweetness, but you could also use dried fig or dates instead. Swap out the walnuts for pecans or hazelnuts – whatever takes your fancy. I’ve used extra-virgin olive oil from the lovely guys at Great Oil (see the link below) but you could substitute butter.

Once baked you can dress this up or down. The mix can equally easily be made as muffins (sprinkle the top with demarara sugar before baking, for extra-crunchy topping). These freeze well for office lunch treats (they defrost very quickly at room temperature but just 20 seconds in the microwave will get you warm cake!).

If you’d rather serve it for afternoon tea, bake as a loaf and offer slices with a jug of maple syrup and pouring cream.

For dessert I would serve it warm, with a ripe sliced pear and toasted walnuts on the side and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. A slice of blue cheese would work very well, too. If you’d rather not add alcohol, simply soak in boiling water or make a light sugar syrup with cinnamon sticks and orange zest to use instead. If you don’t have rum, use cognac or any aromatic spirit you have lurking at the back of the cupboard.

Pear, rum and raisin cake with walnuts

Makes 1 900g loaf or 8 big muffins


170ml olive oil (I use Orodeal extra-virgin Spanish olive oil from GreatOil)

170g soft light brown or Muscovado sugar

3 medium, free-range eggs

170g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp salt

80g raisins or sultanas, soaked in 50ml dark rum preferably overnight but for at least an hour (you can substitute warm water instead if you’d prefer it alcohol free)

350g pear, skin on, seeds removed, cut into chunks

80g walnuts, toasted in the oven at 170C for 10 minutes and crushed


First do your prep – soak the sultanas and pear in the rum, toast the walnuts, prepare a 900g/2lb loaf tin (I use a paper liner) or a muffin tin.

Preheat the oven to 170C.

In a large mixing bowl weigh out the oil and sugar. In a small mixing bowl weigh out the flour, bicarb, cinnamon and salt and mix together with a fork.

Add the eggs to the oil and sugar, use a fork or wooden spoon to combine (you don’t need to whisk). Add the dry ingredients and mix lightly, as you would for muffins. After a few turns with a spoon or spatula, add the chopped pear and soaked raisins, and all/any rum left in the bowl.

Mix some more and then lastly add the walnuts and fold through.

Tip the mix into the loaf tin and bake on the middle shelf for 45-50 minutes (a skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean, if there is still raw cake mix then return the cake to the oven for a further 8-10 minutes).

If you’re making muffins, bake for 18-20 minutes.

Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.

© Linda Galloway 2020