Yields10 Servings
 100 g dark chocolate finely chopped
 100 ml strong espresso coffee
 175 g unsalted butter, softened
 250 g light muscovado sugar
 3 large eggs
 150 ml buttermilk
 2 tsp vanilla extract
 125 g ground almonds
 200 g plain flour
 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
 1 tsp baking powder
For the pears
 125 g caster sugar
 25 g unsalted butter
 Large pinch of sea salt flakes
 4 small pears, peeled, halved and cored

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas4. Grease and line a deep 20cm preferably loose-based cake tin, so the paper sits slightly higher than the edge of the tin. For the pears, put the sugar in a pan and place over a medium heat until it melts to a caramel – this should take about 5-7 minutes; shake the pan occasionally but do not stir; once melted, add the butter and sea salt flakes and stir until it comes together to a smooth sauce; pour over the base of the prepared cake tin and arrange 7 of the pear halves, cut-side down, in the caramel; finely chop the remaining pear and set aside


Put the chocolate in a small bowl and pour over the hot espresso, stirring to melt; set aside; in a large mixing bowl whisk together the butter and sugar until pale and very fluffy; whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then the buttermilk, vanilla and finally the melted espresso chocolate


Add the almonds, then sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder; fold the mixture gently together then stir in the chopped pear half; pour the batter into the cake tin over the pears, smooth the top and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean


Leave until almost cool in the tin before inverting and turning out onto a wire rack, so the pears are on the top; transfer to cake plate and serve warm or cold

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