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13 February 2016

 I am often asked whether I eat everything that I bake. It's a question that continues to amuse me, and I remain undecided as to whether I should be offended or deeply flattered by the suggestion that I physically ingest several large cakes by myself on a weekly basis. Ego massaging aside, it's a question that should come as no surprise: we as readers crave resolve to a story, and love few things more that the reassurance that our protagonists (whether they be human or food stuff) will live happily ever after.

Free to a good home, my cut-into creations tend to take their leave with friends, family, boyfriend and on occasion, the sweet lady who lives downstairs and was really very understanding that time our boiler leaked and her ceiling fell in.

While I adore the abundance and indulgence that characterise baking, the propensity for waste continues to trouble me. Consistent recipe development, testing and tweaking results in a lot of baked goods, and it can be tempting - crazy as this may sound - to chuck anything in the bin that isn't quite perfect. I have to remind myself that baked goods, perfect or not, should be enjoyed and treasured. Otherwise, what is the point in all of this?

And I'll admit - I give things away because it's lovely, but also because I know my willpower is only so strong, and that one day I will succumb to my much-nurtured fantasy of eating chocolate souffle in the bath. It's a beautiful image, but one that I'm not quite ready for just yet.

Were I to be caught on at a weak moment, however, this sunken pear and honey cake would go rather well with the large glass of Prosecco, scented candles and whale sounds that populate the aforementioned fantasy. Drizzle with extra honey or reduced poaching syrup if you're planning a particularly long soak.
2 poached pears (recipe here)
125g butter
75g soft light brown sugar
50g clear honey
2 eggs
50g ground almonds
75g wholewheat flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder

Poach the pears according to the recipe. Preheat your oven to 180C fan, and line a small loaf tin with baking parchment. Lay the pear halves onto kitchen paper to dry them out ahead of baking.

For the cake, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then drizzle in the honey with the mixer running. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to combine before each additional. Sieve in the almonds, flour and baking powder, and fold into the mixture. Pour into the prepared tin, and level the surface with a palette knife. 

Dust the rounded side of each pear half with flour, leaving the flat side clean. Gently arrange on top of the cake. Try not to push them down while you arrange them, as you don't want them to sink beneath the batter in the oven. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the surface is risen around the pears, golden, and a knife comes out clean from the centre of the cake.

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