One of my favourite things about winter is seasonal fruit. Tart green apples and fresh, sweet strawberries are a small hint of the spring to come. Caramelised pears warm not only your taste-buds but your insides, too. 

This cake has all of that. It's a winter cake. 

Well, it has cake in it but I'm not sure 'winter cake' does it justice. It's more like apple pie, covered in caramelised pears snuggled in vanilla sponge, topped with baked, gooey figs and strawberries. Obviously that's too long of a name, but I think we both know what should happen. You should make this cake, and have a cup of tea. 

The suggestion here is good quality fruit. I got mine fresh from the farmer's markets and there's nothing better than a fleshy fig that hasn't had its life frozen out of it. 

Please, let's just take a moment to look at this melted, caramelly baked fig. 

Ok, back to the recipe. 

It doesn't use much sugar because the fruit is sweet enough, so yeah... It's fruit salad. Let's go with that. 

Secondly you can eat this warm with ice-cream and bed socks (preferred) or cool with tea or coffee (also good). I'll leave it up to you. 

If you're lucky enough to be experiencing a warmer climate and still want a fruity cake that's not, well a fruit cake, why not try some seasonal produce such as, 
Spring: Strawberries, seasonal apples, blueberries, caramelised bananas, raspberries.
Summer: Apricots, caramelised bananas, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, peaches, figs, pears, plums. 
It might vary in your area, but just see what you can get!

pre-baked winter cake

Winter Cake - Makes one, deep 9"cake
Inspired by smitten kitchenhugh fearnley-whittingstall, & winter. 

3 medium (or 5 very small) green apples, peeled and chopped into squares roughly 2cm
3 seasonal pears, peeled and cut into thirds (if small) quarters if big. 
3 figs, tops cut off and cut into quarters
3 strawberries (more if you can fit them!), tops cut off and cut in half long ways 
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
100g softened butter (for cake mix) 
30g butter (for pears)
2 tablespoons brown sugar 
1 and 1/4 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 large eggs
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk (or make your own)

9" cake tin, electric mixer. 

How to 
Preheat the over to 200°C / 400°F and place a tray in the middle of the oven. 

Put a saucepan on medium heat and add the 30g of butter and brown sugar. Add the pears and cook slowly, turning as each side becomes brown and caramelised. This will vary based on the firmness of your pair, but will likely take between 5 and 10 minutes. Don't rush this stage and burn the butter--take it slow! 

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a larger bowl beat 100g softened butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Then beat in vanilla, zest, and egg.

Mix in the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk. 

Place your chopped apple in the bottom of a greased cake tin. Spoon in the batter, making sure it fills the spaces between the apples so you don't get holes. Do this buy prodding the apples or lightly dropping the pan on the bench encouraging the bubbles to rise to the top. Add the pears and press into the batter. Spoon the caramelly butter from the pan on top of them. Place the strawberries and figs on top. It doesn't matter if they're sticking out because the cake mixture will rise and 'snuggle' them. (See my pre-baked cake, above). 

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into centre of cake comes out clean, around 1 hour. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then on a rack for around 10 minutes.