A wonderfully moist and rustic cake, the gentle heat of the ginger and the juicy sweetness of the pears, all set in a lightly spiced cake, work so well together. This cake is perfect sliced and eaten along with a cup of coffee, but wonderful served warm as a dessert with either cream, ice cream or sorbet: a tangy rhubarb sorbet is a particularly happy partner!
About the recipe
This is a variation of an apple cake recipe I had scribbled in the back of one of my cookery books I have had for decades, found only while having a tidy of my cookery book shelves and delving into a few that I hadn’t read for some time; I have always jotted down recipes when they were demonstrated on television (long before the immediacy of the internet!). Actually, most of my older cookery books are stuffed with bits of paper with my ideas and scrawlings all over them!
I decided to use pears here rather than apple, adding just a little to the cake mixture as well as on top. I also added both a topping and a syrup to the original recipe I had scribbled down all those years ago.
The small pieces of pear inside the cake cook down a little as the cake bakes, giving lovely squidgy pieces. The ginger is there as a subtle back-note and the topping, combined with the sticky syrup, pushes the cake almost into dessert territory.
Recipe for pear and ginger cake: makes 1 large cake
- 165g plain flour
- 150g unsalted butter, softened
- 3 large eggs at room temperature, beaten
- 100g demerara sugar
- 50g light soft brown sugar
- 7 pieces stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped
- 1 pear, peeled, cored and grated or finely chopped
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2-3 tablespoons stem ginger syrup
(1) Pre-heat oven to 160°C (fan). Grease and line an 8-inch round cake tin.
(2) Whisk the butter and sugar until much paler and fluffy: you should feel very few grains of sugar. Add the ginger powder and cinnamon and whisk in the eggs a little at a time until incorporated, to give a mocha-coloured moussey mixture. NB: if the mixture curdles, whisk in a little of the flour. And if it still looks curdled, the cake will taste excellent!
(3) Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold gently into the mixture. Stir in the pear and the stem ginger and pour the mixture into the tin, levelling the top.
(4) For the topping, mix the sugar, ginger and cinnamon together. Lay the pears on top of the cake mixture and sprinkle over the sugar, ginger and cinnamon.
(5) Bake for 40-50 minutes, covering the top with foil or greaseproof if it is getting too dark: you can test it is cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre. If it comes out clean, it is ready.
(6) As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, drizzle over the syrup and leave to cool in the tin.