My kitchen in November is dark and candlelit

When I wake up on November mornings, the house is quiet and dark as we are now into the darkest part of the year. There is no snow to reflect the light and so it is even darker than the shortest days of mid-winter. I often light candles and we eat breakfast in the soft light. There is a large window that faces the road in the dining area and I like to think that if someone drives by they will see the light and maybe it will help their day to a good start as well.
Something about the darkness ignites a desire for gingerbread and it is a task that the kids love to help with.
2013-11-01 10.42.062013-11-01 10.49.51
In my kitchen on the wall between the kitchen and dining area is a painting to brighten the bleak days of November. It is painted by my Grampa, Jim Wuollet and it is one of my treasured possessions. The Anemones provides a beautiful contrast to the misty scene outside.
misty morning
Father’s day is celebrated in November here and this succulent cake could be the perfect choice for Dad this Sunday. We will try to make breakfast as quiet as possible on that morning, even though I’m quite sure that with six kids he will hear the sounds coming from the kitchen. He will just have to pretend to be asleep as we tiptoe up the stairs, as it is important for the kids to be able to wake him up. It is a part of the ritual.
slice of almond pear and fig cake
The recipe below makes a cake fairly similar to the one I ate at Fleuriste a few weeks ago. The one alteration is that the recipe below is made with almond flour and therefore is gluten-free. The original recipe is from the great blog Momma’s Gotta Bake to which I made some alterations adding figs and chocolate and even a little rose water for flavor.

Almond Pear Cake with Fig and Chocolate–Gluten Free

25 cm/10 inch springform pan, lined and sprayed
3 pears, one for the batter and one for on top
generous 4 dl / 1 and 3/4 c sugar + 3 tsp
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
7.7 dl/3 and 1/4 c ground almond meal
8 eggs at room temperature
1 tsp rose water + 1/4 tsp
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp oil
100 g/3.5 oz fig (fresh or dried) cut into slices
80 g/2.8 oz dark chocolate cut into chunks
dark chocolate
Peel and core the pears cutting two of them into chunks and the third into slices. Place the pear chunks into a small sauce pan along with the lemon juice and three teaspoons of sugar. Allow to simmer on medium heat for about ten minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Mash the pears with a fork after cooling. Meanwhile place the almond meal and sugar into your stand mixer with the paddle attachment in place. (You may also use a food processor for this) After mixing the almond meal and sugar add one egg in at a time, whipping strongly after each addition. Add in the rose water. If rose water is not available you may use vanilla extract. Fold in the roughly mashed pears into the batter.

In a separate small pot or pan, heat the oil, honey and rose water just until it bubbles. Turn off the heat and add in the third sliced pear so that the slices are coated with the honey mixture.
Pour the batter in to the lined and sprayed springform pan. Stick the slices of figs and chunks of chocolate into the batter and lay the honey-coated pear slices on top in a pinwheel shape. My pears did not stay on top, rather they sunk through the batter. It didn’t affect the flavour, just the appearance.

Bake the cake at 175 C/350 F on the middle rack of the oven for about 55-65 minutes or until a skewer comes clean when poked into the center of the cake. I covered the cake for the last 15 minutes of bake time to prevent it from becoming too dark. Remove from the oven and spoon the rest of the honey mixture over the cake. Allow to cool for a half hour before removing the sides.

I was racing the clock as it was already getting quite dark outside and so I cut a slice before the thirty minutes were up. It cut beautifully even if it was still warm. And it tasted even better than it looked.

Happy Father’s day to all of the special Dad’s and Grampa’s near and far.

This post is a part of Celia’s, In my Kitchen series at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial


  1. Thank you my dear!
    We have several Anjou pears on the counter, just waiting for an inspiration. But, the figs? Not yet. And how could I act surprised?
    Keep up the good work.

    Love, Grampa

    1. Thank you Grampa. I actually used soft, dried figs since my closest grocery did not carry the fresh ones. This cake will be made with the fresh ones as soon as I get my hands on them! 🙂
      Happy Father’s day ❤ Laila

  2. Lovely…so Grampa didn’t ask…could we use regular all purpose flour? Don’t remember seeing almond flour (meal) at the store…

    1. 🙂 I’m sure you could use all purpose flour if you worked in some butter as well. The original cake that I ate at Fleuriste was made with regular flour and was quite rich with butter. I wonder if they would carry almond flour/meal at the Whole foods market? ❤ Laila

  3. Such a lovely post. I could feel the quietness of your morning and the picture of the candles – perfect.
    Your grandfather is a talented artist-
    And the pears and cake?
    Marvelous. Thanks for sharing!

  4. What a lovely, gentle way to greet the morning; no bright lights, just sweet candlelight. And the beauty of your grandfather’s painting to inspire your lives.
    I think there will be one happy father in your house on Father’s Day 🙂

    1. Bright lights right when one wakes up tends to make me a bit crabby 😉 the soft lights of the candles as they give away to the brightening day is much more of a pleasant way to start the day.

  5. Almond Meal flour is available at Whole Foods, Sprouts and most likely Trades Joes as well! I’m so anxious to try this recipe. Thanks for your inspiration always!!

    1. So glad the post brightened you day Joanne! Gingerbread is one of my favorite cookies…but I have to admit that by the time the holidays are over I’m ready to give them a little rest until the next autumn. 🙂

  6. Really beautiful post. Your cake looks magnificent, and your grandpa is very talented. I just love reading about life on your side of the world. Fall looks so beautiful over there. Candles are a gorgeous way to ease into your morning. I love that idea. We occasionally bring them out at dinner time as my boys love dinner by candle-light, but breakfast by candlelight seems so peaceful and lovely. I’m about to make pancakes, and plan to serve them up by candle-light. Thanks for the inspiration. Wish I could add a photo to my comment!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Yes, a photo with your comment would be lovely indeed…true interaction. Maybe we should ask WP to enable/create an option like that, eh? 🙂

  7. Laila, what a beautiful post. It makes me so happy that through this simple IMK gathering we’re able to get such a strong feel for what your life is like at the moment. In my kitchen, the sun is blaring through the skylight and it’s about 30C outside. And yet, just like at your place, there is also love and baking and gingerbread and cake – and great love and communion with family. Thank you for sharing your kitchen with us! xx

    1. Thank you Celia for providing the forum and the great idea. I think kitchens tell a lot about a person…it is often the heart of the home and the place where people spend time together.

  8. gingerbread and a candlelit breakfast sounds very romantic and autumnal – and your grandfather’s painting looks colourful and must be very precious – hope you have a great father’s day

  9. That painting is simply breathtaking. What a beautiful piece to have in your home, and even more special for it to be painted by your Grandfather. It seems the creative gene runs in your family 🙂

  10. Hi Laila, what a truly beautiful post. Your pictures tell more than 1000 words. I will have to try your cake it looks wonderful, and I have been adding figs to everything lately.

    1. Thank you so much Jason, I really appreciate it. I do that too, start to fancy a certain ingredient, and pretty soon a little of it finds its way into almost everything. 🙂

  11. Now that the time has changed, mornings are darker here, too, and I love the idea of having breakfast by candlelight. That is something I’ve never done.

    1. Thank you for stopping by! Certainly we have some days with sunshine but November is usually quite rainy and grey, the trees are bare and form a black outline against the horizon and the days have become quite short. The snow brings so much light even in the dark as it reflects the light from the moon.

    1. Thank you! Cookie icing is an activity that the kids just don’t seem to quite get enough of. And it is a pocketbook friendly activity…egg whites and powdered sugar = a little clean-up and scrumptious cookies. 🙂

  12. Your kitchen is so cozy! I would love to wake up to the lit candles and sweets. I love this cake and I am delighted as it is also lactose and egg free as well. Perfect! Tak eCare, BAM

    1. Thank you Bam! I have come to love the candles in the morning. This recipe is gluten-free and lactose free…but it does have a heavy dose of eggs with eight of them in the recipe. 🙂

  13. No matter how many lights I turn on, breakfast seems dreary during the winter months. Using candles would instead embrace the winter, and make breakfast seem special. I plan to try it tomorrow.

    1. I hope you had a chance to try the candles Sheryl. I feel the same way about the overhead lights. Everything looks better in candlelight…even the dark circles under ones eyes are not apparent in the light of candles. Not that you would have them, but I occasionally do!

  14. I can see why the painting of the anemones from your Grandpa is a treasured possession! It’s a stunning painting worthy of it’s place of honour where everyone can see it. I’ve been drooling about the flavour combinations in that cake ever since your post about your beautiful brunch and can’t wait to make it. I love that it’s gluten free – I can see that this might be our Christmas pudding this year. 🙂

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