With an abundance of pears in my kitchen, a tender, lightly spiced pear loaf with a hit of dark chocolate seemed an appropriate and delicious winter baking recipe.
225 grams butter, very soft but not melted
½ cup caster sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons milk
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons each ground mixed spice and ginger
2 tablespoons glacé mixed peel, finely chopped
4 medium, firm but ripe pears
150 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped (Whittaker’s 62% Cocoa Dark Cacao)
2 tablespoons raw sugar
icing sugar, for dusting
Grease an 8-cup capacity loaf tin and line fully with baking paper
Preheat the oven to 160°C fan bake.
Beat the butter and both sugars until pale and creamy. Add the vanilla and gradually beat in the eggs then the milk.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a bowl and stir in the mixed peel until it’s all coated in the flour. Gently mix into the butter mixture.
Peel, quarter and core two of the pears and cut into 1cm pieces. Set 50 grams of the chopped chocolate aside for the top of the loaf.
Add the remaining chocolate and the two diced pears to the batter and fold everything together. The batter will be very thick. Spoon into the tin and gently press it down to an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes.
Peel, halve and core the remaining two pears and cut each one into 8 wedges. Take the cake out of the oven and quickly arrange the pear wedges on top and scatter over the remaining chocolate and the raw sugar.
Place back in the oven and bake for another 35–40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for at least one hour before removing.
To serve: Dust with icing sugar and serve plain or with a bowl of softly whipped cream and the ganache from the Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe, opposite. Makes 1 loaf
Pantry note: Glacé mixed peel is available in packets in the baking aisle at supermarkets. I like to chop it finer so it’s evenly distributed through the loaf.