The pears I picked a couple of weeks ago are fully ripe now. Most usually, I enjoy them fresh, peeled or unpeeled; occasionally I use a few in cooking. One of my quick “comfort” desserts is to chop pears and mix them with grated marzipan to use as a filling for a gluten-free puff pastry jalousie or plait. Quite delicious.
Today, I’m sharing a recipe for what I call a “proper cake”. In other words, a dense textured cake, neither spongy nor light, but something substantial, and just right for this time of year. Keep it for at least a day after baking to allow the fruit juices to soak into the cake and for the flavours to develop. I use coconut oil and coconut milk a lot in my cookery because I love the flavour; but in this recipe it isn’t noticeable by taste, it simply adds to the richness of the texture. Use another vegetable oil or vegan margarine if you prefer, and a nut, rice or soya milk will work fine as an alternative to coconut milk.
Serves: 6 to 8
- 75g coconut oil
- 75g light brown sugar
- 75g golden syrup
- 75g treacle
- 6 tbsp canned coconut milk
- 150g gluten-free, self raising flour (such as Dove’s Farm)
- 2 tbsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- 4 small pears
- Juice ½ lemon
- Preheat the oven 170°C (150°C fan oven, gas mark 3). Grease and line a deep, 12cm round cake tine. Put the oil, sugar, syrup and treacle in a saucepan and heat very gently, until melted together. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk. Cool for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sift the flour and spices into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
- Thinly peel the pears, leaving them whole. Trim away a small slice from the base of each so that they sit upright, and arrange in the cake tin. Brush all over with lemon juice.
- Pour the melted ingredients into the spiced flour and mix together to form a thick, smooth batter. Carefully pour into the tin.
- Cover the tops of the pears with small pieces of foil to prevent burning. Put the cake tin on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 1 hour 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Discard the foil and leave the cake to cool in the tin completely.
- Remove from the tin. Wrap in foil and store in a cool place for 24 hours to allow the texture and flavours to develop. Enjoy cold as a cake or, warm slightly and serve as a pudding with dairy free custard.