PEAR AND GINGER CAKE
For the pears:
500g pears peeled, cored and diced
1 tbsp golden syrup
For the cake:
250g self-raising flour
2 level tsp ground ginger
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
200ml golden syrup
125g dark muscovado or brown sugar
2 large eggs
For the icing:
250g icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
Optional 3 knobs preserved ginger in syrup, 1 tbsp Demerara or golden sugar crystals, 1 tbsp poppy seeds for garnishing
You will need a square cake tin measuring approximately 22cm.
Peel, halve and core the pears, then dice them into 2cm cubes. Warm the butter in a shallow, nonstick pan, then add the pears and leave to cook for 10 minutes over a low to moderate heat, until they are pale gold and translucent. Towards the end of their cooking time, add the spoonful of golden syrup. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Line the base and sides of the cake tin with baking paper.
Set the oven at 180C.
Sift the flour with the ground ginger, mixed spice, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Pour the syrup into a small saucepan, add the butter and the muscovado and warm over a moderate heat until the butter has melted. When the mixture has simmered for a minute remove from the heat.
Break the eggs into a bowl, add the milk and beat lightly to combine. Pour the butter and syrup mixture into the flour and spices and stir gently until no flour is visible. Mix in the milk and eggs. Fold in the cooked pears and scrape the mixture into the lined cake tin. The pears should sink to the bottom. Place in the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes, until it is lightly puffed and spongy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin.
To make the icing, put the icing sugar into a bowl, then beat in the lemon juice, either with a fork or using a small hand whisk. Take it steady, only using enough to make an icing thick enough that it takes a while to fall from the spoon.
Remove the cake from its tin and peel back the paper. Cut the cake into 16 equal pieces and place them on a cooling rack set over a tray. Trickle the icing over the cakes, letting a little run down the sides of each. When the icing is almost set, add a slice of crystallised ginger and a scattering of sugar crystals and poppy seeds to each piece.