4-5 ripe but firm pears
1-2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
2 strips of zest and the juice of 1 lemon
1 star anise
Peal the pears and cut into 2 lengthways. Scoop out the core. Immediately place in a saucepan containing the water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, lemon zest and juice. Place a disc of greaseproof directly on the liquid so the pears remain submerged.
Bring to the boil and then simmer until the pears are just slightly undercooked. This should take anywhere between 8 and 10 minutes. Check with a sharp knife that they tender outside but firm in the centre. They should NOT be too moist or they won't hold their shape when it bakes. Leave them aside to cool down in their liquids.
50g dried or 40g fresh cranberry
3 eggs @ room temperature
1 tsp vanilla essence
200g ground almonds, hazlenuts, pistachios... whatever you have in your pantry
¼ tsp salt
80g plain flour
1 lemon zest
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Heat up the oven to 170°C. Lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin and line its bottom and sides with greaseproof paper.
Drain the pears and cut each half into 3 wedges. If using dry cranberries, soak them in some of the hot cooking juices of the pears. Drain after 10 minutes.
Arrange the pears and the cranberries over the caramel.
To make the cake, sieve together the flour and the spices. Use the paddle attachment of the mixer to cream the butter and sugar until light and airy. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla. Add the ground nuts and mix just to combine. Repeat with sifted flour, salt and zest. Make sure you don’t over mix.
Once the batter is homogeneous and smooth pour it carefully over the pears and cranberries making sure you don’t move them out of their place. Smooth the batter with a palette knife.
Bake for 35 minutes. Test with a skewer to make sure the cake is dry inside. Remove from the oven.
Whilst the cake is still warm, but not hot, place an upside-down flat plate on top of the tin and briskly turn over. Remove the tin and the paper. To store, let cool, then cover with glad wrap.