Sticky toffee pear pudding

STICKY TOFFEE PEAR PUDDING

Like a classic sticky toffee, but 10 times better. A winter warmer with upside down pears drenched in creamy caramel.

INGREDIENTS
4 medium unripe English pears
2 tsp caster sugar
225g soft dates, pitted
175g self-raising flour
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
85g butter
140g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp black treacle
100ml milk

FOR THE CARAMEL
175g soft brown sugar
50g salted butter
225ml double cream

METHOD
You really want to start by poaching the pears so that they are nice and soft when you bake the cake. Peel and top them, pop in a saucepan, cover with boiling water and 2 tsp caster sugar. Simmer for at least 20 minutes, or until you can push a fork through the pears easily. Once they are done, drain the liquid off and leave them to cool a little so they are easier to handle.

Next, it’s time to make the sponge batter. Chop the dates (making sure the stones are removed) into rough chunks. Put them in a bowl and cover with 175ml boiling water and 1.5 tsp of bicarbonate of soda. The water will start to foam and it’ll help the dates caramelise.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and soft brown sugar with an electric whisk. Add the eggs and whisk for a few minutes until some light foamy bubbles are created. Add the self-raising flour, black treacle and milk, and whisk into a smooth batter before adding the dates along with their water. The mixture will be quite runny in comparison to a usual cake but don’t worry about this, it’ll just make it more moist.

Quickly make the caramel by heating the butter and sugar together in a small saucepan. Add the cream and keep on the heat for 5-8 minutes until it is bubbly and smooth. Take a large round deep cake tin, and line it along the bottom and up the sides with a circle of greaseproof paper. Pour the caramel into the bottom of the lined tin, slice the pears in half length ways and place them core side down so that they lay flat, then pour the cake batter on top. Bake in a 160 degrees celsius for 40 minutes. If the top starts to go too dark cover it with tin foil mid way through. You should be able to tell once it is cooked as a knife will come out clean when you poke it.

To serve, flip upside down onto a large plate, and make sure you watch out for the hot caramel when you’re flipping it. Serve with thick double cream.