Since it was Easter I thought I'd make something chocolatey to take to a morning tea visit. This is a River Cottage recipe.

For the pears

  • 4 just-ripe pears
  • 35g butter
  • 2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange

For the cake

  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 150g butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar (I used 100g)
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • A splash of milk

Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas 3. Butter a 20cm springform cake tin and line with baking parchment.

Peel, quarter and core the pears. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the brown sugar and orange zest and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the pears and cook them gently for a few minutes, turning frequently, until completely tender. Set aside. For the cake, combine the ground almonds, flour and cocoa powder and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together with a handheld electric whisk or in a mixer for several minutes until very light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of the almond mix with each. Fold in the remaining almond mix, with a large metal spoon or spatula, then stir in a little milk to get a mixture with a soft dropping consistency.

Spread this cake mixture in the prepared tin and arrange the pears on top, finishing them off with any buttery, sugary juices still in the pan.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the sponge comes out clean. Leave to cool slightly in the tin.