Yay, Autumn is here again! And, of course, the dawn of this season means baking with luscious scrumped fruit, sticky syrup/treacle and oodles of heaven-scented winter spices. It just wouldn’t be Autumn otherwise. And this lovely bake utilises all three of this holy culinary trinity.
Isn’t it funny how you can bake a seemingly failsafe recipe that you’ve made countless times before and it can turn out a disaster, and you can write something off as an epic dog’s dinner of a cake fail only for it to turn out beautifully? Unfortunately, normally the former is the case for me, but this week I experienced a prime example of the latter.
I was making some banana and caramel cupcakes for my work’s Macmillan Coffee Morning and thought I’d make use of some scrumped pears while I had the oven on. I had a flick through some of my trusty recipe books and came across an enticing apricot upsidedown number in Cakes & Slices that didn’t seem to require too much effort, for which I could easily substitute the suggested fruit for my windfall pears.
Part-way through making it I realised I didn’t have enough butter and substituted some of it for milk, and I also replaced the syrup with treacle out of necessity in my haste to get the damn thing finished. I melted the wet ingredients together as instructed before folding in the dry, and the result looked terrible!
It was wet and lumpy, and the baking powder I added in the hope of giving it a better rise (in light of the lack of eggs) let off an ominous fizz. When I poured the dodgy-looking concoction over the pear slices I barely had enough to cover them. By this point, I was convinced that this monstrosity would have to go down in the ‘disaster’ file, but thought I may as well cook it.
Anyway, I needn’t have worried as, to my surprise, it rose beautifully and tasted wonderful! The ratio of pear to sponge was just right, and the cake was deliciously moist without being overly sticky. I shared slices with various people and they all loved it. I’ll definitely make this again, and perhaps try it with other fruit.
I had some leftover caramel from my Macmillan cupcakes which is why I drizzled some over the top, but it’s certainly not essential.
INGREDIENTS – makes one sponge of approx. 22cm/8.5 ins diameter
- 2 medium pears, peeled, cored and chopped into fairly thin, neat slices
- 175g/6 oz butter
- 140g/5 oz brown sugar + a little extra for sprinkling
- 85g/3 oz treacle
- 185g/6.5 oz self-raising flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- Half a tsp baking powder
- Drizzle of maple or golden syrup
- Drizzle of Carnation caramel (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a round cake tin with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle about half a tablespoon of brown sugar over the bottom of the tin, drizzle over some maple/golden syrup, then neatly arrange the pear slices in a circle on top.
- Place the butter, sugar and treacle in a heatproof bowl then melt together in the microwave on a medium heat in blasts of 1 minute.
- Stir well and then fold in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and baking powder – don’t worry that the batter looks lumpy and runny!
- Pour the batter evenly over the pears, then place the tin in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the sponge comes out mostly clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack. When cool, turn the cake out so that the pears are at the top.
- Drizzle some Carnation caramel over the cake, if you like (if the caramel is too stiff, heat it for about 30 seconds in the microwave on LOW heat in a heatproof bowl and give it a good stir).
- Enjoy cold, or warm with some cream or ice cream. Yum!