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Pear & Vanilla Upside-Down Cake

A recipe from Great British Bake Off star James Morton, this delicious cake recipe showcases sweet pears in an easy to make cake, perfect for afternoon tea.

From the book

James Morton


Pear and vanilla is a flavour combination that bridges the gap between traditional and modern, classical and contemporary. But it has gone through a renaissance recently, since some boffins detected the same aroma compounds in both ingredients using a computer.

Except you didn’t need a computer to tell you that. Take a good sniff of both; it doesn’t take a lot of expensive equipment to work out the similarities. I tried this combo with parsnips on my first day on The Great British Bake Off, and although there was parsnip flavour there, it didn’t come through as much as I’d hoped. You can try it if you like: add 250g of grated parsnips after the flour and bake for a bit longer.


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250g softened, salted butter
250g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
75g Greek-style yoghurt
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
260g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
For the top (or is it bottom?)
4 pears, preferably Williams or Conference, peeled and thinly sliced
100g salted butter
200g caster sugar
juice of ½ lemon

Essential kit

You will need a 9-inch springform tin.


1. First, line the bottom of a 9-inch springform tin with baking paper, and then grease it well. Preheat your oven to 170°C/150°C fan/Gas 3, and place a tray or piece of foil on the bottom to catch any caramel drips.

2. Prepare the upside-down bit. Make the caramel by heating your butter, caster sugar and lemon juice together in a pan, stirring all the time until melted. Pour this onto the base of your tin and arrange the pears on top.

3. Into a large bowl, weigh the butter and sugar. Using an electric whisk or a wooden spoon, beat them together until smooth, light and creamy – this will take at least 5 minutes.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the yoghurt and scrape in the vanilla seeds and beat them in as you did the eggs. Smooth would be nice, but this is likely to curdle and don’t worry if it does.

5. Gently fold in the flour and baking powder using a large metal spoon, just enough to combine. If it isn’t at a dropping consistency, stir in a touch more yoghurt.

6. Carefully pour your mix onto your fruit and bake in the oven for approximately 40–50 minutes, or until golden brown and springy and a skewer comes out clean.

7. Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing the sides of the tin (running a knife around the edge if necessary) then placing a plate or cake stand on top of it. Turn the whole thing upside down before carefully peeling away the base paper. Serve hot or cold.



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From the book: How Baking Works

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