I'm deviating from decorating today to pass on this really scrumptious cake recipe which is from Belinda Jeffery's latest book "A Country Cookbook", a beautiful book with terrific recipes which would be an excellent addition to your cook book collection.
PEAR & ALMOND CAKE
From The Country Cookbook by Belinda Jeffery
180g almond meal
80g self-raising flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 free-range eggs
250g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond essence
200g unsalted butter, melted & cooled
Icing sugar, for dusting
Cream, to serve
2 fairly large just-ripe pears
1 cup (250ml) Muscat (or pear nectar)
A squeeze of lemon juice
To poach the pears, peel, quarter and core pears. Fit them snugly in a single layer in a frying pan and pour over Muscat and lemon juice. Heat to medium-high and when it comes to the boil turn down so it bubbles gently. Cover and poach the pears for about 10 minutes until tender.
Transfer pears to a bowl. Increase heat under the pan and reduce the cooking liquid to ½ cup. Pour over the pears and cool.
Preheat oven to 180°. Butter a shallow 24cm cake tin and line base & sides with buttered baking paper. Dust lightly with flour and set aside.
Put the almond meal, flour and salt into a large bowl and whisk them together with a balloon whisk for 40 seconds.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and almond essence until they’re thoroughly combined, then mix in the cooled butter until it disappears. Scrape this buttery mixture into the almond meal mixture and stir them together. Spread the resulting batter evenly into the prepared tin.
Take the pear quarters out of their liquid and pat them dry. Halve each quarter lengthways and lay them decoratively over the top of the batter (there is no need to press them in as they will sink a bit as the cake bakes). Sprinkle a tiny bit of caster sugar over each slice of pear.
Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until the top springs back slowly when gently pressed and a fine skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. You may find that after 40 minutes or so the top is looking quite brown enough – if this is the case, just sit a sheet of foil loosely on top of the cake to stop it getting any darker.
Transfer the cake to a rack and leave it to cool in the tin until it’s barely warm. Carefully invert the cake onto the rack, remove the tin and paper, then invert it again onto a plate so it’s pear-side up. Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve with cream.