Image: Maya Visnyei | Prop Styling: Ann Marie Favot
A flavour-packed combination of honey and spices complements the sweet taste of sugar pears in this melt-in-your-mouth dessert.
- 3 small firm sugar pears
- ½ cup honey
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice or water
- 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cardamom (optional)
- ⅓ cup plain 2% Greek yogurt
- Greek yogurt or crème fraîche, for serving
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper; set aside.
2 Halve, core and stem the pears, leaving the skin on. Quarter the halved pears lengthwise, then, leaving the slices attached at the top, slice each quarter into 1/8-inch-thick wedges.
3 Add the honey, orange juice and vanilla bean (pod and seeds) to a large skillet set over low heat. Fan out the pears and place in the skillet. Cook gently, occasionally spooning the honey mixture overtop, until the pears are just soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully transfer the pears to a plate to cool slightly. Discard the vanilla pod. Increase the heat to medium-high. Boil the honey mixture until reduced to a syrup, about 1 minute; set aside.
4 In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
5 In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon and cardamom. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 2 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the yogurt (the batter will be quite thick). Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.
6 Press the pears gently into the batter, fanning out the slices in a decorative pattern. Bake until golden and a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.
7 Let cool for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the cake from the pan and place on a plate. Brush the top with the reserved syrup and serve with a generous dollop of yogurt or crème fraîche, if desired.
Tip: Check that your sugar pears are ripe by gently pressing the neck of each fruit. Firmer is better for these sweet delights.