I love spring. I love the change of season that acts as a gentle reminder that winter and its dreaded bone-aching cold is gone for another year. I don’t much like winter. I tolerate it, but I don’t like it.
Spring brings with it many changes. Hot soup is replaced with salad, boots are replaced with painted-toenail-exposed sandals, curled up couch days are replaced with walks in the sunshine and hours outdoors. My garden gets a makeover, it is currently smiling at the weed-free zone and freshly mowed lawn. I love spring. All week I have been spring cleaning and throwing out the old to make room for the sunshine.
This cake has nothing to do with spring, I just love pears and the sunshine has prompted me to get baking. This cake reminds me a little of the traditional Finnish Omenakakku (apple cake) my Mum used to make. I had the idea of adding cinnamon and cardamom, popular additions to ‘coffee cakes’ the Finns love so much, and I was glad I did. The simple yet delicious flavour of the cake with a hint of spice topped with caramelised pear, what a beautiful combination. Is there anything quite like caramelised fruit? I think not. Although spring does come close.
Ingredients // serves 8-10
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and halved
½ cup brown sugar
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups plain flour
1 ¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
½ cup milk
Vanilla bean pod, split and seeds scraped out
1 cup caster sugar
Preheat oven to 175C. Grease 21cm cake tin, line with parchment paper. If you are using a springform pan pop it on a baking tray in case the melted butter from the caramel oozes out.
Combine brown sugar and 50g of butter together in a bowl, rub together with fingers to form a wet crumbly texture. Scatter clumps over the base of tin (no need to smooth out as butter will melt while baking).
Slice pears thinly. Lay them decoratively overlapping over the top of the sugar and butter in base of tin, thin ends towards the centre.
Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Pour milk into a separate bowl, scrape in seeds from vanilla pod.
Beat remaining 100g butter and caster sugar in mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, for about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low, gradually add dry mixture and milk mixture in alternate additions until just combined, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Do not over beat.
Spoon combined batter over pears, gently smoothing out on top. Bake on middle shelf in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Remove cake from oven and allow to sit for 20 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack. Take care when inverting as caramel may ooze out from tin.