I have been clinging on to winter for longer than is necessary now. It’s become an issue.
For as much as I am at my happiest when I’m greased up like a pig at a county fair and writhing on a sun lounger, I was born on the 1st of January and am, by default, a Winter baby.
So while externally I am designed for the sun rays, internally I am very much product of my winter birth. That’s why, when it comes to winter eating, I try and drag it out for as long as possible.
I blame the weather for why I’ve been clung on to winter eating for this long. The skies (and temperature!) have not been able to make a conclusive decision on whether or not it’s warm or cold with random spouts of snow so I’m culinary confused and don’t know when to start switching to airier slightly softer meals instead of the gutsy wintery ones I’ve been consumed with.
I’ve been coasting on Squash soups and root veg for longer than I need to and have now decided to switch my food intake to represent sprightlier times.
I wanted to mark this switch with a nice, wintery and deeply spiced bake that would wave goodbye to my winter blues and coast me into my springier steps.
Springier steps. Yup. Blogging at its finest, right there.
This cake is dead easy to make, keeps really well and sits quite sexily on a table top. I’d get it made ASAP though. We’re moving into spring pasta and salad season soon so you want this reigning supreme on a dinner table before it’s too late.
Preheat the oven to 160C and grease/line a 23inch spring form tin. Snap a cinnamon stick in half and bash a few cardamom seeds open and drop them in a jug. Pour boiling water over them to the 140 mark and leave to sit.
In a big frying pan, pour in 100g of caster sugar, shake the pan so it all sits as evenly as possible and put on a low-medium heat. Don’t stir this, even though you’ll want to, and allow the sugar to start caramelising. Again, don’t stir, but if you want to move the caramel around to make sure everything mixes together by lifting the pan carefully and moving it about to swirl the caramel around the pan.
Now pour the jug of spiced water into another jug or mug through a sieve (just so that the cinnamon and cardamom husks are not in the water – you could even remove these with a spoon of it’s easier).
Once the sugar has dissolved and started to turn a golden brown, carefully (and slowly) pour in the spiced water. This will sizzle but don’t be scared, just go slowly. Swirl everything around by hand, drop the temperature low and allow to bubble.
Now grab yourself two big pears (or three smaller ones) and start slicing them to the thickness of £1 coins. Unlike the traditional pineapple versions of this cake, each pear disk will be different in size – but that’s what you want, it looks so rustic.
Dot these around the bottom of the cake tin, in no particular order or fashion.
Once the caramel has adopted the spiced water and is bubbling to a thick, syrupy caramel take it off the heat. Now carefully pour this as evenly over the pear disks in the cake tin as possible. Leave this to one side to cool and crack on with your cake batter.
The batter is a very basic approach to cake batter and has the old school combination method, but the caramel spiced pears on top are so dense in flavour that you don’t really need much going on with the batter.
So… drop 180g of butter into a big bowl with 180g of caster sugar and beat to combine. Crack in 3 eggs and beat the hell out of this. Add in 180g of self-raising flour along with 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and a teaspoon of ground cardamom. Beat the living daylights out of this to get as many lumps out of it as possible.
Once all is baet together, pour this over the caramel draped pears and give the pan a gentle shake to make sure the batter falls through all the little gaps in the pear disks.
Slip in the oven and bake for like 35 minutes? Or until you can put a skewer through the sponge and it comes out clean. Let the cake rest in its tin for about 15 minutes until it’s cool enough to handle. As it cools, the middle of the cake will fall a little but don’t worry – it’s getting flipped upside down.
Remove the tin from the cake and put a stand upside down on top of it (so the bottom of the stand is facing the ceiling). Using your hands, flip the stand upwards (so it’s now the ‘correct’ way up) and the bottom of the cake is facing the ceiling. Carefully remove the bottom of the cake pan to reveal what is now the top of the cake, showcasing all the syrupy, gleaming caramel pears on top of the sprightly proud sponge.