Orange, almond, ginger, sour cherry and bitter chocolate cake with poached pears

Photograph: Emma Jervis

Photograph: Emma Jervis

Sat, Mar 24, 2018, 06:00

  • Serves: 8


  • 200g soft butter
  • 200g sugar
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 3 eggs
  • Grated zest of 3 oranges
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • 75g medium-ground polenta
  • ½tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp cream of tartar
  • 50g dried sour cherries or cranberries
  • 60g chopped ginger, preserved in syrup
  • 80g of your best chocolate (chopped)
  • For the syrup:
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 3tbsp ginger syrup
  • For the poached pears:
  • 8 pears, peeled, cored and halved
  • 400g sugar
  • 500ml water
  • 2 vanilla pods, split and scraped


First make the poached pears, so they have time to macerate. Put the sugar, water and vanilla pods in a saucepan and bring slowly to a bubble, stirring until the sugar dissolves, and boil for just two minutes. Then add the pears and poach until soft – about 15 minutes – before allowing them to macerate for several hours.

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 160 Celsius. Line a 28cm cake tin with parchment and oil.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the ground almonds and beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the zest and juice and fold in the polenta, baking powder and cream of tartar. Then mix in the sour cherries, ginger and chocolate.

Put the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and leave it to cool in the tin. Then turn it on to a plate.

Make the syrup by boiling the orange juice with the ginger syrup until reduced to a thick syrup. While the syrup is still hot, brush it over the cake and allow to cool.

Serve the cake with the pears in vanilla syrup.