Spiced Pear and Butterscotch Cake

We have a bit of a September birthday ritual in our house. Every year Graeme comes up with a flavour or a theme, and I bake him a birthday cake based around that. We've had all sorts over the years - doughnutBiscoff (possibly the prettiest cake I've ever made!), Malteser...

This year, Graeme tasked me with a pear and butterscotch combination, which seemed perfectly seasonal. I was pretty pleased with how it came out, and since it's National Cake Week I thought it would be fun to share the recipe with you.

This cake really is a doddle to make. It's a basic sponge, but the addition of the sliced on fruit on top adds a dash of drama that makes it look like it took you a lot more work than it actually did! My favourite type of bake.

The ground almonds add a subtle nuttiness to the cake that really complements the spiced pear flavour, and the whole thing just tastes so beautifully autumnal. The be honest, the actual cake itself isn't too sweet, but when you add the butterscotch it really comes to life! I recommend warming the butterscotch up before serving - we placed the jar in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes, but a few seconds in a microwave would work as well.

I used fairly firm conference pears for this so that they were easy to slice thinly, and they baked beautifully, but I think any pear that isn't too soft would work well.

I'm planning to make this again this week with apples since they're coming into season now and are everywhere this autumn, but I think it would work beautifully with other fruits too - plums, blackberries, even cherries! A cherry and cinnamon version would be wonderful.

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Spiced Pear and Butterscotch cake
A cosy, spiced cake for autumn. Adapted from taste.com.au

For the cake:
  • 200g / 7oz softened butter
  • 220g / 7.5oz caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 85g almond meal
  • 2 ripe pears
  • 2 tsp caster sugar (for finishing)
For the butterscotch sauce:
  • 200g / 7oz  soft brown sugar
  • 50g / 2oz  butter
  • 250ml / 8fl oz / 1 cup cream
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of sea salt
For the cake:Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4/175°C/350°F and grease and line a 20cm cake tin.Sift together flour, baking powder and spices and set aside. Cream together the softened butter and 220g of sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then fold in the flour mixture and ground almonds until everything is combined. Spoon into prepared cake tin and level off the top. Cut pears into quarters and remove the cores. Thinly slice each quarter, and arrange the slices over the top of the cake. Make sure that each slice overlaps slightly. Sprinkle the top with the extra caster sugar.Bake for about 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning cake out into a wire rack to cool.Meanwhile, make the butterscotch sauce:Add brown sugar, butter, cream, and vanilla to a pan. Place pan over a medium heat and stir until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for around five mintutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Taste and tweak, adding salt and more vanilla if needed!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8

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