A simple pear cake, not so dissimilar to French versions, but utterly Italian in its deliciousness. Serve it with mascarpone beaten with a little icing sugar and vanilla extract.
150g (5 oz) softened unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
110g (4 oz) caster or vanilla sugar
150g (5 oz) self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2-3 pears, depending on size
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 180C/350C/Gas mark 4. Base line a 22cm (9”) cake tin with baking parchment and butter the sides.
Cream the butter with the caster or vanilla sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time, alternating with spoonfuls of flour. Scrape into the cake tin. Peel and halve the pears. Scoop out the cores with a teaspoon, cut off stalks and the hard bit at the base of each pear. Slice each half lengthways, without quite cutting right through to the tip, to make a fan of pear slices. Lay these fans, slightly flattened so that they splay out, on top of the batter (which will rise around them as it cooks) and sprinkle over the granulated sugar. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown, with the edges pulling away from the sides of the tin. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla mascarpone.
© Sophie Grigson