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Sticky-pear-gingerbread-cake-1678

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Sticky Pear Gingerbread Cake by Erin Baker of the Natural Cookery School

Restaurant:
Serves: 8
Prep / cook time 1 hour 15 mins

“Gingerbread is one of my favourite flavours, dark molasses paired with warm spices. This cake adds poached pears to make it a real showstopper for Christmas or any other occasion. The recipe is easy to follow and absolutely delicious. If you can’t be bothered to poach the pears, simply chop 3 pears, peel and core and add to the batter.”

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INGREDIENTS

For the pears

8 small firm pears, (we used mini conference)

200g golden caster sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

1 star anise

6 cloves

1 lemon, zest

1 orange, zest

2 tbsp ginger wine or brandy (optional)

For the sponge

250g pitted dates

2 tbsp ground flaxseed

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

300ml oat milk (any other non dairy milk will work as well)

200ml neutral oil, plus extra for greasing

2 tbsp molasses (black strap is delicious)

175g dark muscavado sugar

200g self-raising flour or 180g gluten free self raising flour

1 tsp ground mixed spice

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

METHOD

1

Peel the pears and cut the bottom off each to give a flat base – cut them to a height that will fit snugly in your tin. Use a melon baller or small knife to cut out the pips from the base. Roughly chop the pear scraps, discarding the pips, and set aside.

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2

Tip the sugar, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, zests, ginger wine and 400ml water into a saucepan large enough to fit all the pears. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Add the pears, cover with a lid or a piece of baking parchment, and poach gently for 15 mins until a knife easily slides into a pear. Leave to cool in the liquid.

3

Now make the sponge. Put the dates, ground flax seeds and bicarbonate of soda in a saucepan and add the almond milk. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for 2-3 mins until the dates are soft. Carefully blend with a stick blender, add the oil, molasses and sugar and blend again.

4

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 20 x 30cm baking tin (a loose bottomed one if possible) with a strip of baking parchment. Alternatively, these can be made into individual cakes using a lined muffin tin. You will have excess cake batter that can be baked without the pears.

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5

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, mixed spice, ginger, baking powder and salt. Add the date and oil mixture, and stir well. Fold in the chopped pear scraps.

6

Scrape the cake mixture into the tin or divide into muffin tins, then nestle in the pears, standing straight up, so that the bottom halves are covered. Bake for 35-40 mins (20-25 minutes for muffin tin) until the cake is cooked through. Insert a skewer to the centre to check – it should come out clean. If there is any wet cake mixture on the skewer, return the cake to the oven and bake for 5 mins more, then check again.

7

Meanwhile, bring the pear poaching liquid back to the boil and simmer until reduced to a scented syrup. Strain and set aside.

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TO SERVE

Serve the cake with vanilla ice cream and drizzle with scented syrup.

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About the Natural Cookery School

Erin Baker runs the Natural Cookery School in Nailsworth. The Natural Cookery School’s approach to cooking uses foods that are minimally processed; whole grains, fresh local produce and minimally refined sugars.
Erin creates wonderful takeaway feasts, including Meat-Free Mondays, and offers outdoor catering for events. She also run day and residential cookery courses at the Natural Cookery School. Find out more at https://www.naturalcookeryschool.com

For more natural recipes like this one, why not take a look at Erin’s book, The Veg Table.

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