Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Pear & Almond Cake

This soft, dense, almondy cake can be served warm for pudding with lashings of cream, or cold with a cup of tea or coffee. Firm Conference pears should work a treat here.

Serves 6

175g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp
3 pears, firm but not too hard, peeled, cored and quartered
2 eggs
75g whole blanched almonds or ground almonds
75g self-raising flour

1   Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Grease a 20cm diameter, springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.

2   Put a saucepan over a medium heat and add 25g of the butter. When it’s sizzling, add a tablespoon of sugar and stir until it dissolves. Add the pear quarters and fry in the buttery caramel for five to ten minutes, until they start to brown and soften (the time taken will vary greatly, depending on how ripe the pears are). Put to one side to cool a little.

3   Put the remaining butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together until light and fluffy. Beat in the two eggs, one at a time. Whizz the whole blanched almonds (if using) in a food processor for about a minute, to grind them. Tip them into the cake batter (or add the ready-ground almonds), then sift in the self-raising flour and fold in gently. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin. Arrange the pieces of pear on top of the cake.

4   Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a knife pushed into the centre comes out clean. Place the tin on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or cold.