Pear & almond cake
This moreishly moist cake is delightful with ice cream for afters, but equally good with an afternoon cuppa. SERVES 8 PREP 25min, plus cooling COOK about 1¼hr
• 225g (8oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
• 250g (9oz) caster sugar
• 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
• 125g (4oz) self-raising flour, sifted
• Few drops almond extract
• 75g (3oz) ground almonds
• 2 medium pears
• 2tbsp demerara sugar
• 15g (½oz) flaked almonds, for the topping
1 Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan) mark 4. Grease and line base and sides of a 20.5cm (8in) round cake tin with baking parchment. In a large bowl with a handheld electric whisk, beat butter and caster sugar together until pale and creamy. Gradually add the eggs, mixing well after each addition – if the mixture looks as if it might curdle, mix in 1tbsp of the flour. Beat in the almond extract.
2 Using a large metal spoon, fold in the flour and ground almonds. Scrape mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for 20min.
3 Meanwhile, peel, halve and core the pears. Slice halves lengthways into
5mm (¼in) thick slices then, keeping slices together, fan them slightly.
4 When the cake has baked for 20min, carefully take it out of oven. Working quickly, use a palette knife to lift the pear fans on to the partially cooked cake (they should sink slightly). Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and flaked almonds. Return cake to oven for a further 55min, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10min, then remove from tin and transfer to a wire rack. Serve just warm or at room temperature, dusted with icing sugar if you like.