The days are shortening. Fiery afternoon sunsets blaze behind the outlines of the ash trees at the back of the house, nightfall following quickly on their heels.
Dark days bring magic at this time of year, for without them we wouldn’t need the fairy lights and candle glow; the warmth and cosiness of the fire.
In the kitchen, black treacle, spicy ginger, and sweet pears combine to make a dark magic of their own. A cosy, comforting cake that also works well as a pudding, warmed and served with lashings of custard.
3 comice pears
1 egg, beaten
100g light brown muscovado sugar
100g black treacle
125ml semi skimmed milk
140g plain flour
1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
1 tspn ground ginger
1/2 tspn mixed spice
Heat the oven to 150 degrees C.
Line an 18cm square cake tin with baking parchment.
Halve the pears and scrape out the cores with a teaspoon. Place the pears cut side down in the bottom of the tin.
Heat the butter, sugar and treacle gently in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. Pour into a bowl and add the milk.
Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then add these to the milk, butter and sugar mixture, beating quickly.
Add the egg and continue to beat, then pour the mixture into the tin.
Bake for an hour, covering the top with a piece of baking parchment for the last 10 minutes or so if necessary to prevent the top of the cake from burning.
Leave to cool, then turn out upside down.