I’ve made this a few times now and it always gets a really warm welcome at the table. It’s what autumn puddings should be, rich and warming and packed with flavourful spices. The sponge is wonderfully light with a gloriously sticky crust, the pears are soft and fruity and there are occasional fiery little nuggets of stem ginger, just to keep things interesting. I like this best served warm, five or ten minutes after it’s come out of the oven (so you don’t burn your mouth on the pears) but it’s also delicious served cold and keeps for several days because the sponge is so moist.

Ingredients
serves 6 generously
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp very hot water
50g butter
65g soft dark brown sugar
pich of salt
1 egg
90g golden syrup
50ml warm milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
140g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground allspice
2 pieces of stem ginger
1 tin of pear halves, drained (you can use fresh if you prefer but you’ll need to poach them first)

Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and grease and line a springform baking tin. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the hot water and set it aside.
Cream together the butter, salt and sugar until it is nice and fluffy and then beat in the syrup and egg. Stir in the milk, vanilla and bicarbonate of soda mixture. Sift together the flour, baking powder and spices to ensure that they are well blended and then briefly beat this into the wet mixture. Finely chop the stem ginger and fold it through the batter.


Pour the sponge mixture into the prepared tin. Arrange the pears on top and push them into the batter a little. Bake the cake for 45 minutes, covering the top with some foil if it starts to get a bit too brown in the last 15 minutes or so. Once the cake is done it should have risen up nicely around the pears and feel springy to the touch.
Serve warm with cream, ice cream or custard.