There is something very warm and comforting about the sweet buttery aroma of a home made cakey confection as it comes out from the oven. It's a seductive smell that's pretty hard to resist, so why bother? As Oscar Wilde said, "The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it!" And so we did, and made this delicious Pear and Almond Cake for guests this past weekend, inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe from his River Cottage Everyday Cookbook. The pears are gently sautéed in butter and sugar then added to a eggy batter of ground almonds and wholemeal flour, poured into a buttered springform tin, then baked for about 40 minutes. The combination of pears and almonds bring a luscious texture to this moist and sticky, but not too sweet, pear-fect pud!
Hugh's Pear and Almond Cake
10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 medium eggs
5 tbsp wholemeal flour with 1 tsp baking powder + pinch of salt
5 tbsp ground almonds
1/4 tsp cinnamon
For the caramelized pears:
3 Bosc pears, reasonably firm, but not rock hard
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. Peel, core and quarter the pears. Melt the butter in a frying pan big enough to take all the pear pieces, over a medium high heat. When it’s bubbling, add the sugar and stir gently until it has dissolved into the butter. Add the pears and cook gently, turning once or twice, until they have softened and are starting to get a lovely golden colour, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Now for the cakey bit. In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter with the caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour with each to stop the mix curdling. Combine the remaining flour, the ground almonds and the cinnamon, and fold into the mixture. Scrape into the prepared tin. Arrange the pears on top and pour on any buttery juices left in the pan. Set the pan on a baking sheet to catch any drives and bake for about 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Stand the cake in its tin on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes, then release the tin. Serve the cake warm with clotted or whipped cream – or cold. "This recipe is cakewalk. Lovely sticky and exciting. Pear-fect."