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Upside Down Pear & Ginger Cake (As seen on RTE Today Show 24/2/2015)

This pear and ginger dessert is like a tarte tatin but with a cake base. When the cake comes out of the oven, it is flipped upside down, revealing the pears covered by the caramel and ginger syrup.

Serves 6

The Pear Topping

90g butter
90g castor or granulated sugar
2 tbsp syrup from a jar of preserved ginger (or use 2 tbsp honey plus 1 tsp freshly grated ginger instead)
3 or 4 large firm pears
Squeeze of lemon juice

The Cake

125g butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
100g self raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
30g ground almonds
2 large eggs
3 tabsp syrup from preserved ginger (or use 3 tabsp honey plus 2 tsp freshly grated ginger instead)

Creme fraîche, to serve

Equipment: Frying pan, about 28cm across and at least 3.5cm deep that can be placed in the oven, or a tarte tatin tin.

Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan, 325°F, Gas 3

Peel, core and thinly slice the pears. Squeeze lemon juice over the slices to prevent them from discolouring. It is important to have the pears ready before preparing the caramel.

Place the frying pan over a low heat and add the butter, sugar and the preserved ginger syrup (or honey and grated ginger). Allow the butter and sugar to melt and then turn up the heat. Cook until the mixture turns golden. Do not worry if the butter separates from the sugar. It will all come back together again in the end. Swirl the pan to mix the caramel so that it colours evenly. Remove from the heat as soon as it becomes a rich golden colour. Slide the pear slices immediately into the caramel, spreading them as evenly as possible. Take great care not to cause any splashes with the hot liquid or to touch the caramel.

Using an electric beater, cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs together in a small bowl and add the eggs little by little, beating between each addition. Add the baking powder, flour and ground almonds as well as the ginger syrup (or honey and ginger) and fold into the mixture. Place spoonfuls of the mixture at intervals on top of the pears and then spread this out to cover the pears completely. Place in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes. Test by inserting a skewer into the centre. When the skewer comes out clean, the cake is ready. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Loosen the sides of the cake with a knife. Place a serving plate (or board), slightly larger than the cake, on top of the pan. Lift the plate and the pan together, holding both tightly, and flip them over sharply (use a cloth to protect your lower hand from any dribbling juices). Lift off the pan. Serve with some crème fraîche or ice cream.

Preserved Ginger

Preserved ginger is fresh ginger that has been blanched in boiling water a number of times and then added to a sugar syrup. It is available in jars in specialist shops and the thick ginger syrup is as wonderful as the preserved ginger itself. Preserved ginger adds another dimension to many cakes, desserts and biscuits. If you are unable to find these jars, then use some freshly grated ginger and honey.

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