Ginger, Pear, Ricotta and Borlotti Bean Loaf


Flashback 12 months ago, to the day. This was me. I was three nights shy of welcoming Will into the world. It was the end of 40 Weeks of Feasting. I was harried. I was on the cusp of signing the deal for Cut the Carbs and madly testing recipes while listening to Paul Simon’s Graceland on repeat. Will enjoyed the baseline and would thump along from the inside.


I was also distracting myself from the constant urge to gorge myself on cake. That compulsion had been a close companion throughout most of the months prior. It descended when we were in Buenos Aires. At that stage I was 11 weeks along, harbouring something the size of a red red grape inside-  and most of the time I was green to the gills.

Buenos Aires: 8 pm. Note black bracelet; underneath is an anti nausea accupressure wrist band. Also note the khaki-hued complexion.

Buenos Aires is a city of many things; vibrant music, transfixing architecture, twinkle eyed gentlemen and fascinating history. And it’s a place of meat. Our time there was mainly about sitting down to meal after meal like this. (For those wanting another trip down memory lane, my guide to the best parillas in Buenos Aires is here)

The smell of steak, smoke and chorizo were pungent. The days were hot and the sun was high. There was one shameful place that I would happily take refuge when it got too much. Starbucks. There was air conditioning. There was wifi and padded couches for me to fold myself into and have a little rest. And there was gingerbread loaf.

Caveat; I am not a traveller who frequents Starbucks. We spent days of our lives stalking the best independent coffee shops and cafes in each city we visited. But that gingerbread loaf did me in. It was slightly sticky and sweet, sturdy and strong. It was aromatic and nudged my bilious middle back towards calming  memories of walking down cool cobbled European streets nibbling at a piece of pain d’epices. Something about it quelled the rising tide inside. I had little need for the thick stripe of cream cheese icing- though I would occasionally order a vanilla frappucino (essentially a vanilla milkshake) to have along side.

Baby Will, in all of his now-tottering glory was essentially forged out of a constant craving for gingerbread and dairy. And there would have been a lot, lot more of him if I hadn’t eventually got a grip.

If only 12, nay, 20 months ago I had this cake in my arsenal.

It’s a gingerbread loaf, but not as you know it.  There’s all the escapist, aromatic delights of ginger and allspice, but no doughy glut of flour. It’s another of the magical bean cakes- except rather than leaning on black beans, or the white beans (which are in the white bean, raspberry and rose cake from Cut the Carbs), there are drained borlotti beans.

Its flavour is mellowed with ricotta, which puckers and caramelises slightly as a crust while it bakes and the cake itself is sweetened with moodily dark syrups and the clean taste of pear- though be sure to use a firm pear, as a blousily ripe one will lose its shape and turn your loaf into a bit of a soggy mass. It’s a delight with a cup of tea or coffee- or even a vanilla milkshake.

Besides being packed with protein, flourless and made in a blender- it’s a loaf which means you can literally have your cake and eat it too.

It also means you really have no need to step into a Starbucks again. Win, win.

Ginger, Pear, Ricotta and Borlotti Bean Loaf


1 x 400 g tin of borlotti beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
50 g rice malt syrup, or brown sugar
70g golden syrup
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp allspice/mixed spice
1 tsp salt
1 just ripe (still firm) pear, cored and cut into slivers
4 tbsp ricotta

Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F and grease a 20×12.5cm/8x5inch loaf pan and line with baking paper.

2) In a mixing bowl (or a food processor)  combine all of the ingredients, except for pear and ricotta.

3) Blend well to combine. The batter will appear quite liquid- don’t worry.

4) Pour the batter into the greased and lined  pan. Arrange the pear slivers in a line down the centre- down worry if they sink into the batter a bit.

5) Dab the ricotta down the sides.

P11406446) Bake for 35 minutes, until a skewer comes out with some fudgy crumbs on it.

6) Leave in the pan to cool for five minutes, then turn out. Slice and serve warm, with yoghurt or creme fraiche for dessert, or allow to cool and scoff with a cup of tea.


  1. I will definitely be trying this as soon as temperatures fall on my side of the world

  2. Maria Lopez on 5 August 2014

    Amazing picture, thank you so much for sharing this recipe,..:) I am such a fan, your blog is amazing..:)

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