Nigel Slater: I often poach the fruit, halved and cored, in a light sugar syrup with some liquid from a jar of preserved ginger and eat them with yogurt and toasted oats. Breakfast of champions, that. The pears should lie at the base of the cake. Makes 16 pieces
For the pears:
- 500g pears, peeled, cored
- 30g diced butter plus 1 tablespoon agave or golden syrup
For the cake:
- 250g self-raising flour
- 2 level teaspoons ground ginger
- Half teaspoon mixed spice
- Half teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- a pinch of salt
- 200ml agave or golden syrup
- 125g butter
- 125g dark muscovado
- 2 large eggs
- 240ml milk
For the icing:
- 250g icing sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 knobs preserved ginger in syrup
- 1 tablespoon Demerara or golden sugar crystals
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- You will need a square cake tin measuring approximately 22cm
- Peel, halve and core the pears, then cut them into 2cm dice.
- 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 agave or golden syrup.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Line the base and sides of the cake tin with baking parchment.
- Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4.
- Sift the flour with the ground ginger, mixed spice, cinnamon, bicarbonate of 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.
- Slide the cake into 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 parchment.
- 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.