The pear varieties on our allotment and in our orchard do not keep for more than a couple of weeks once picked so this is something of a seasonal recipe for me. However, there is no reason why you should not use bought pears but they do need to be firm. I peel and add the pears to the mixture as the very last ingredient as they are even worse than apples for turning brown as soon as the peel is removed. Pears have a more delicate taste than apples but this is complemented, rather than overpowered, by the stem ginger. Shop around for the ground almonds; they often come down in price during the autumn when the demand is high for baking Christmas cakes. This recipe comes from The Allotment Seasonal Planner and Cookbook by Andi Clevely. It is very straightforward to make and you don't even need to use an electric mixer. The eggs are just gently beaten with a fork!
100g unsalted butter
100g self-raising flour
100g ground almonds
2tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
100g golden caster sugar
3 pieces of preserved stem ginger, chopped
3 large eggs, beaten
3-4 firm ripe pears (about 300g chopped weight if using windfalls), peeled, cored, quartered and diced
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius/Gas Mark 4. Grease and flour a deep 20-22cm (8-9 inch) loose-bottomed sandwich tin. You need to use a loose-bottomed tin, as the cake is quite juicy and some of the juice may leak out and cause the cake to stick to an ordinary tin.
- Melt the butter in a pan and remove from the heat. Sieve the flour with the baking powder and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl. Add the ground almonds and the sugar.
- Add the melted butter, ginger, eggs and finally the pears to the dry ingredients. Stir well, coating the pears quickly with the other ingredients.The mixture is quite sloppy at this stage. Pour into the prepared tin. Scatter the flaked almonds over the top. Put the baking tin on a baking tray (to catch any leaking juice) and bake for about 45-55 minutes, until golden brown and springy to the touch.
- Leave to cool for 5 minutes, remove carefully from the tin and place on a cooling rack. Once cool store in an airtight tin.