Friday, July 5, 2013

Pear & Walnut Gingerbread Cakes

When someone asked me for a recommendation for a dessert recently this one tripped off my tongue with no hesitation.  Spicy gingerbread, pears and warm butterscotch sauce are just the perfect combination for a winter pudding. I’ve been making this one since I first discovered it in Cuisine magazine seven years ago. 

After passing the recipe on to said friend, I then hankered to bake it myself.  That said, there was no foreseeable need for a large cake in our mini-household of two.  So I fell back on my tried and trusty Plan B – make smaller cakes!  The beauty of this was that those not consumed immediately are ready in the freezer for those days when I can’t resist something sweet with coffee (every day, then?).

The recipe given is for the entire cake and I urge you to make it whole.  The finished cake looks amazing with a circle of halved pears drizzled with butterscotch sauce.

However, if you want to make the smaller cakes, use lightly greased friand or cupcake tins.  I halved the recipe (and used one pear instead of three) and instead of creaming the first portion of butter and sugar to line the tin, I creamed all the butter and sugar (without adding any extra ingredients at this first stage) and dropped in about a teaspoon to line each friand mould. Into each tin, I placed two slices of pear. I omitted the walnut halves completely.  I then added the remaining ingredients (including the walnut pieces) to the creamed butter and sugar and continued as per the recipe stated.  I cooked the cakes for about 20 minutes.  Just test them by pressing lightly on top with your fingertips or inserting a cake skewer in the centre.  The halved recipe made about seven little cakes.

And as for the butterscotch sauce - who could resist it?  Well apparently I could after I failed to make it properly on this occasion.  I think I may have overcooked it as it hardened immediately when it was poured over the pudding.  Resembling wax drips from a candle I was then able to lift it off completely, looking like a toffee-coloured, plastic mould.  Oh well, fortunately the cakes were just divine even without the sauce.

Pear & Walnut Gingerbread Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Serves 6-8

210g butter
250g muscovado sugar
3 ripe pears, peeled, halved & cores removed (with a melon baller if you have one)
6 walnut halves
2 eggs
2 tablespoons treacle
250g flour
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon and cloves
150ml warm milk

Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Cream 60g of the butter and 90g of the sugar and spread over the base of a 24cm-diameter cake tin.

Place the pear halves, core side down, on top of the creamed butter and sugar. Dot the walnut halves in between the pear halves.

Cream the remaining butter and sugar then beat in the eggs and treacle. Stir in remaining ingredients until well mixed but do not beat. Pour the mixture over the pears and walnuts.

Place in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until you can tell the pears are tender when a skewer slides easily through a pear half to the bottom of the tin and the middle of the pudding batter is cooked.

Serve with the hot butterscotch sauce and a dusting of icing sugar.

Butterscotch sauce
240g caster sugar
240g brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
250ml cold water
1½ tbsp butter
½ tsp vanilla essence

Put the sugars, golden syrup and 150ml of the cold water into a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugars and syrup.

Once boiling, stop stirring and boil until a little dropped into a glass of cold water forms a soft ball (5 minutes).

Remove from the heat, add the butter, the remaining water and vanilla and mix well, but do not beat.

Cool. It will become quite hard and crystallize once cold.

Just before serving, bring to the boil to melt and dissolve any sugar crystals.

Recipe from Ray McVinnie
Cuisine magazine Issue 111, July 2005


  1. So pretty and yummy looking, and yes, great for winter! You could enter to Sweet New Zealand, this month host is Nicola from Homegrown Kitchen, info here


  2. I am full of admiration of your restraint. I would have baked the full version and scoffed the lot!

    1. I surprised myself! I seem to have constant sweet cravings at the moment - wonder if it's the onset of winter?