Pear & Ginger Cake and a review of Planted by Chantelle Nicholson
Planted is a vegetable-focused, seasonal cookbook from Chantelle Nicholson. I can only describe the recipes in Planted with one word - sophisticated. Okay, maybe one more - elegant. And I don't see many vegan cookbooks that could be put in those categories.
She really takes a whole foods approach, which is exactly what i'm looking for this year. She does incorporate some dairy alternatives, but you could easily make them yourself if you wanted to not have anything store-bought. Nassima Rothacker did an absolutely gorgeous job with the photography, and the book overall has a clean & minimal, but classic design.
This book works in weight measures for the most part, so get yourself a cheap kitchen scale if you don't already have one. (It's the easier way to bake, anyway, people! Get on it!) If you're already experienced with cooking, especially from a variety of cookbooks, then you'll do just fine. For those brand new to cooking, you might need to look up a few ingredients and substitutions if you live outside the UK. Usually I appreciate a cookbook with a straightforward and quick introduction, but I think this book would've really benefitted from a proper ingredients section, at least for those of us in the US. I do also wish there were just a few more photos. Don't get me wrong, there are a ton of photos, but I really like to see a photo for each recipe included. I think it not only helps guide me to the right outcome, but it also inspires me to make the dish in the first place.
But back to the really good stuff in this book. The recipes sound SUPER fancy, but the ingredient lists aren't too long. This comes from Nicholson's chef training, most likely, and it really boosts this cookbook's appeal. It's the kind of cooking that you might try on the weekend, but once you actually make it, you'll find that it's easy enough to make a second or third time during the week. I especially like "project" cookbooks, where there are multiple components and you really learn a lot of new techniques from each recipe. I could probably make up a bean chilli off the top of my head, but I definitely wouldn't be able to think up pretty much any of the recipes from this book on my own.
And those unique flavor combinations and varying techniques make Planted stand out on my bookshelf. I know that this isn't a "basics" or "beginner vegan" cookbook filled with recipes I've made hundreds of times, and I love that about it.
layout & standout recipes
This book is one that divides its recipes into seasons, which I really really appreciate. It's much easier to get inspired to cook when you've got cheap, plentiful ingredients in the season you're in.
- Breakfast & Brunch - Caramelised Banana French Toast w Maple & Smoked Sea Salt
- Snacks & Starters - Crispy Sage Leaves & Sweet Potato Skins w Smoked Paprika Rouille
- Mains - Barbecued Baby Gem Lettuce, Sweetcorn Pudding, Barbecued Onions & Kimchi
- Desserts - Lemon Meringue Tarts w Black Olive Caramel
- Bakes - Black Olive, Thyme and Onion Jam Rolls
- Basics - Black Sesame Pasta
recipes we tried
Sage & Shallot Tart
Even though it looks fancy and difficult, this was super, super easy to bring together, and I made it as a weeknight dinner. (And it tasted incredible!)
French Onion Soup, Roast Garlic Aioli, Brioche Toastie
This was perfect for our cold blizzard weather, and the smell of caramelized onions was incredible! I swapped out the aioli for some Violife parm (because I'm obsessed with it) and it made for a great dinner. The flavor was really intense. (In a good way.)
Pear and Ginger Cake, Pine Nut Creme, Rosemary Caramel
This cake was one of those multi-component meals where I definitely learned a lot of new techniques, and it turned out wonderfully. The cake is soft and caramely, and the flavor combo worked so well.
who this book is for
Slightly experienced cooks - whether vegan or not - who want to get into more sophisticated plant-based cooking.
the best part
The unique (and satisfying) flavor & texture combinations
where to get it
PLANTED: A CHEF’S SHOW-STOPPING RECIPES
By Chantelle Nicholson, Food Photography by Nassima Rothacker
Get it on Amazon here
Pear & Ginger Cake, Pine Nut Creme & Rosemary Caramel
Reproduced with permission by Kyle Books, an imprint of Octopus Books, distributed in the US by Hachette
Served warm, this is the ultimate winter comfort pudding. Use the ripest pears you can find to ensure the cake is deliciously moist. This cake also keeps very well, so can be made in advance and warmed up to serve. It is also perfect to have for afternoon tea on its own.
- 2 pears, peeled, cored and quartered
- 2 tablespoons golden syrup
- pinch of table salt
For the pear and ginger cake
- 120g non-dairy butter
- 150g dark brown muscovado sugar
- 150g golden syrup
- 100g stem ginger, blitzed into a paste
- ½ nutmeg, grated
- 2 pears, peeled and grated
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 250g self-raising flour
For the pine nut crème
- 100g pine nuts
- pinch of table salt
For the rosemary caramel
- 125g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
- 100ml pear juice
- 50g butter
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 50ml oat cream
Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan 150°C/gas mark 3. Grease and line a 23cm square cake tin.
Arrange the quartered pears in a roasting dish. Drizzle with the golden syrup and sprinkle with the salt. Bake for 30–35 minutes until golden and soft.
For the pine nut crème, spread the pine nuts on a baking tray and roast in the hot oven for 8–10 minutes until golden. Place in a blender with the salt and 30ml of warm water. Blend until smooth and mousse-like, adding a little more water if necessary.
To make the cake, put the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a large bowl. Set over a medium saucepan half-filled with water, over a medium heat. Allow the butter to melt, then mix well. Add the ginger, nutmeg and grated pear, mix well. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda, then fold in the flour.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 30–35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
For the caramel, place the sugar and rosemary in a medium, heavy-based saucepan over a moderately high heat. Gently shake the pan when you see the sugar beginning to melt. Do not stir as this may cause the caramel to crystallise. As it continues to melt, keep shaking and swirling the pan until a deep caramel is formed. Add the pear juice and continue swirling the pan for 3 minutes. Add the butter and salt and swirl for 2 minutes. Finally, add the cream and whisk until a smooth caramel is formed.
To serve, slice the warm cake into 8 pieces. Top with the caramel and pine nut cream. Serve with 2 pieces of roasted pear.