As the leaves begin to fall, so does the pears from the next door neighbour's garden. Ably helped by the pesky squirrels, the half eaten fruits join the litter of dead foliage and twigs. Though I bemoan the task of clearing the garden in autumn, I love the fruits that autumn bring. When baked in desserts they have a charming way of creating a warm, cozy feeling.
Desserts make even the simplest meals special. This particular one is so easy to make yet so delicious. Luscious, juicy pears are baked with a topping of pillowy sponge cake. The final touch is a topping of bubbly toffee crust. It is enough to satisfy that end of the meal yearning for a sweet fix yet not too rich to leave you with a guilty conscience.
Have it on its own or better yet serve topped with vanilla ice cream.
butter for greasing the dish
4 ripe pears
1 1/4 c. plain flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsps. baking powder
1/3 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. condensed milk
1/4 c. butter
flaked almonds for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350° F/180° C.
Butter an oven proof dish generously. Peel, core and cut the pears into 8 sections lengthwise and arrange on the dish.
Sift the flour, salt and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and whisk to combine. Combine the milk and vanilla and add alternately with the sifted dry ingredients, blending well after each addition. Pour the mixture on top of the pears.
Bake for 30-35 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean).
Make the toffee topping by combining the brown sugar, condensed milk and 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until the butter and sugar melts.
Pour over the pudding at the end of the baking time. Spread evenly and sprinkle with the flaked almonds (if using). Return to the oven for a further 8 minutes. It is ready when the sauce forms bubbles on the surface of the pudding.
Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving with cream or ice cream.
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