Pear and ginger cake

Finally, after a week of unseasonally hot and sunny weather, it has turned cold and autumnal. Before you misunderstand me, I do not like the cold, in fact I hate the cold. But the fact that it is cold provides the perfect excuse to curl up inside, drink too much tea and cook and bake autumny, comforting foods, just like the cake we baked this evening, a warm from the oven pear and ginger cake. This cake was nothing fancy, nothing too sweet, just simple and soothing to eat. A moist, light sponge with gently warming notes of ginger and slices of soft, juicy pear. So light and not-too-sickly-sweet in fact, that my house-mate and I managed to eat half a cake between us. Autumn, I thank you, you are the perfect excuse  to seek comfort in cake.

Pear and ginger cake (recipe adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s apple and almond pudding cake, which appears in the October ’11 Waitrose magazine)

  • For the pears:
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 1½ tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunky slices
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • For the cake
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • generous tbsp finely grated ginger root
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a moderate heat. Stir in the granulated sugar, continuing to stir until little foamy bubbles appear in the mixture. Add the pears and the ground ginger and toss well to coat. Cook for about 5-10 mins, stirring now and then until the pears are just tender. Take the pan off the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease the base and sides of a round, 20cm springform cake tin with butter and line the base with baking paper.
  3. Place the butter in a large bowl (or the bowl of a free standing mixer) and beat (with  a hand mixer if not using a free standing one) until the butter is soft and creamy. Add the caster sugar and continue to beat until pale and fluffy.
  4. Break an egg into the bowl and beat in well. Then add the second egg, grated ginger, lemon zest and a spoonful of the flour and beat again until well combined.
  5. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the ground almonds and the rest of the flour into the mixture.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level off the top. Arrange the pear slices over the cake, they will fit quite snuggly.Pour over any juices left from the pan.
  7. Bake for 45-50 mins until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before removing from the tin. Serve warm.
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