When I was invited for tea and sandwiches to the gorgeous home of my lovely friend, Paola, and her adorable little Mia (and let’s not forget Mr K., who sadly missed our fun times), I decided to give my crumbly pear teacake another go, in contribution to this very high tea. It had been a few, lonely years without this light and buttery addition to my life. I had only made it once before, and although it was scrumptious, there was an issue of sinkage in the middle of the cake due to the weight of the pears. I’ve now made some tweaks and can safely say that I’m pretty happy with this version. Little Mia certainly was, as was evident when she picked up a large chunk of cake, squashed it into her mouth and exclaimed, ‘this is yummy!’. And as you perhaps may know, a 3-year-old will be completely honest with you, so a veritable compliment it was.
2 cups (500 ml) water
1 cup caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick or a good shake of ground cinnamon
2 peeled and very thinly sliced pears (as thin as possible to avoid sinkage!)
125 g unsalted butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ cups self-raising flour
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup caster sugar
60 g unsalted butter
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 180°C if yours is a ‘normal’ oven (I say ‘normal’ because mine is on steroids… so I set it at 160°C). Grease and line a 22cm springform tin with aluminium foil.
In a large pan, combine le pear ingredients, but hold the pears. Stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the pears and simmer until they are tender. Remove the pears and place them on a plate with absorbent paper. Place paper on top of the pears also, to soak up as much moisture as possible.
For le batter, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add flour and cinnamon, and mix until just combined. The mixture will be quite thick at this point. Slowly add milk and beat until the batter is smooth. Pour batter into the prepared tin and spread so it is even.
For le crumble, pulse ingredients in a food processor until just combined and so that the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Arrange half the pears over the batter, then half the crumble, then the remaining pears and crumble. Bake for 1 hour or until your skewer comes out clean. Fifty minutes in my overexcited oven. Serve with double cream and your favourite cup of tea. Then, if you so choose, do like Mia and swish the cream around and on top of your cake, smash your cake up into pieces, then ditch the fork and pick up nice, big chunks of cake and mangiare with gusto!