Tuesday, September 18, 2012

NIGEL SLATER`S SEPTEMBER CAKES PART II - Cinnamon Pear Cake with Vanilla Fudge Sauce

There are so many delicious varieties of pears available right now, that it is hard not to buy too many. So why not give this wonderful Cinnamon Pear Cake with Vanilla Fudge Sauce a try. It is the second recipe in my Nigel Slater September Cakes Series. This cake is moist and studded with chuncks of ripe, sweet pears. It has a bit of a rustic appeal and is easy to prepare. And it is even a bit decadent, especially if you prepare the Vanilla Fudge Sauce as well and pour it over the cake just before serving it with a small scoop of a real good quality, or even homemade, vanilla ice cream. What a wonderful mid-week afternoon treat.

I love Nigel Slater´s recipes, sweet and savory. No matter which recipe I follow, I always appreciate the comfort food feeling they have. Same is true for this Cinnamon Pear Cake. It is worth trying to buy some good, ripe but still somewhat firm pears that are good for baking. And the finished cake will taste so much better if you use fresh, good quality cinnamon for the pear mixture.

Cinnamon Pear Cake with Vanilla Fudge Sauce
(as adapted from Nigel Slater, Tender II)

Ingredients for the Pear Mixture

  • 740 grams (1.6 pounds) ripe pears (I used 6 small “Conference” pears)
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 40 grams (scant 3 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp unrefined light muscovado sugar (you can substitute light brown sugar)
  • ½ tsp (heaped) ground cinnamon (preferably from Ceylon)

Ingredients for the Cake

  • 200 grams (2 sticks minus 2 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus some extra for the baking pan
  • 200 grams (1 cup) golden caster sugar (you can substiute light brown sugar)
  • 3 eggs (L), lightly beaten
  • 200 grams (1 2/3 cups) self-raising flour (you can substitute AP flour whisked together with 1 ½ tsp baking powder), plus some extra for flouring the pan
  • ½ tsp baking powder with saffron (you can use regular baking powder)

Ingredients for the Vanilla Fudge Sauce

  • 100 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp) unrefined light muscovado sugar (you can substiute light brown sugar)
  • 100 grams (3.5 ounces) golden syrup *
  • 50 grams (3 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 150 ml (2/3 cup minus one tbsp) double cream
  • 1 to 2 tsps pure vanilla extract (adjust the amount of vanilla added to your personal taste)

Baking Equipment

a 24 cm (9 – 10- inch) spring form pan
some parchment paper (I always use unbleached natural brown parchment paper)

Preparation of the Pear Mixture

1. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius (325 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Butter the spring form pan, line with parchment paper, butter and lightly flour the pan. Shake out the excess.
3.  Peel the pears, then halve, core and roughly chop them, dropping them into cold water acidulated with a good few squeezes of the lemon. It will prevent discoloring.
4. Melt the butter and muscovado sugar with the cinnamon in a shallow pan over a moderate heat, stirring occasionally.
5. Drain the pears and add them to the pan, taking care that they don’t spit at you. Let them cook in the melted butter and sugar until they are tender and the sauce is thick and coats the pears. Stop before the sugar turns dark and bitter. Set aside to cool.

Preparation of the Cake

1. To make the cake, put the butter and sugar in a food mixer and beat till light and creamy. It should be almost white.
2. Add the eggs and a little of the flour alternately, so that the mixture does not curdle.
3. Fold in the remaining flour and the baking powder, followed by the pears and their syrup.
4. Scoop the mixture into the buttered baking pan and with an offset spatula, smooth the top lightly.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes, till risen and golden, then check for doneness with a metal or wooden skewer; it should come out clean.
6. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool on a rack before taking it out of the baking pan.

Preparation of the Vanilla Fudge Sauce

1. To make the sauce, put the sugar, golden syrup and butter in a small, heavy-based saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring only enough to stop it sticking.
2. Stir in the cream and the vanilla and leave to cool so that the sauce has a chance to thicken.
3. To serve, put a slice of cake on each plate with a small scoop of ice cream, then pour over the fudge sauce. OR: pour the Vanilla Fudge Sauce directly onto the entire cake, let the excess drip off and serve a scoop of ice cream on the side with a drizzle of some additional sauce.


  • This recipe was adapted from "Tender: Volume II - A Cook`s Guide to the Fruit Garden" (Sep. 16, 2010) Nigel Slater (Author), Jonathan Lovekin (photographer), available at http://www.amazon.co.uk/. The US edition is called “Ripe – A Cook in the Orchard” (April 10, 2012 and is available at www.amazon.com).
  • Self-raising flour (such as "Mc Dougalls" or "King Arthur"), muscovado sugar and golden caster sugar from Tate & Lyle (available for example at http://www.english-shop.de

Substitutions for Golden Syrup:

Combine two parts light corn syrup plus one part molasses OR equal parts honey and corn syrup OR maple syrup. If you like, try reducing the corn syrup in a saucepan to thicken it. NOTE: This is thinner and not quite as sweet or flavorful as golden syrup. 


  1. Andrea, this sounds fantastic. I think I would probably eat most of the pear mixture before it got near the cake. It sounds wonderful on its own. I love Nigel Slater's recipes so thanks for sharing - I've not seen this one before.

    1. Hester, thanks! This is a wonderful and uncomplicated little cake, just perfect for using up all those pears.

  2. The whole dessert looks excellent, but I'm most intrigued by the vanilla fudge sauce. It just looks incredible. I just ate lunch and now I'm hungry for cake :-)

    1. Thank you, Jora. The Vanilla Fudge Sauce is also good on its own over some ice cream or vanilla custard.

  3. What a gorgeous dessert! I'm not a big fruit eater, but pears are one of my favorite fruits. I've never had a vanilla fudge sauce. It sounds delicious!

    1. Kristin, thanks for the comment - pears add such a wonderful flavor to baked goods - I am always looking fore new ways to use them.

  4. i love dessert, that sure looks awesome.. i would finish all of it within one day.

    1. Thanks so much! Desserts are a nice treat especially when fall comes around and we never seem to get enough of them.

  5. Oh, I hope I will have ripe pears in the orchard soon...this sounds delicious. Thanks for the suggestions about the golden syrup.

    1. Karen, thank you so much for the nice comment! Pears are just so versatile and I love using them in a lot of different recipes - to me they are just wonderful fall fruits!

  6. Vanilla Fudge Sauce--be still my heart! This recipe looks just wonderful. I bought pears at the market yesterday. Local pears are perfect right now.
    Thank you so much for your kind comment about my girls and bread making. It just made my day. You know, it's interesting, I never felt like I 'taught' my girls to bake/cook. But I think once they got married (and hungry) they just did what they had witnessed all their life. All 3 of my daughters are great cooks and willing to learn. I love it when they come home and we can all cook together.
    Sadly my 3 sons did not marry cooks. But their wives are learning--and so are my sons!
    Have a great day!

    1. Cindy, thank you very much for your kind comment - I just loved reading your post about the bread making and your daughters/children, it was really wonderful! I wish I had learned how to bake bread at home (we were three girls)!

  7. Oh this is outrageously good!! The flavors and ingredients are a joy! Don't you just LOVE Nigel Slater - he has such an understanding for flavors!!! Wonderful photos - the cake looks amazing
    Mary x

    1. Mary, thank you so much for your nice comment! Nigel Slater is one of my very favorite cooks/bakers - I love his recipes, his writing and the photography in his wonderful books. He has a unique view on food which is just contagious!

  8. Oh, man...this looks IRRESISTIBLE!!! LOVE the dripping vanilla fudge sauce!

    1. Liz, thank you - I agree, Fudge Sauce is hard to beat and if you add some vanilla to it, it is even better.

  9. I see myself scraping off these vanilla fudge sauce from the cake (and pour more). Ohhh looks so good! Vanilla ice cream is a must for this cake. Yum!

    1. Nami, Vanilla Fudgs Sauce is hard to beat, that is quite true but the cake is not bad either.

  10. This looks delicious. Another recipe I have to try. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Marlise, this is nice and easy and just the right type of everyday cake I wanted to feature in my "mini-series".