325g (11oz) caster sugar (you’ll need 150g of this for the toffee, the rest for the cake mixture)
4 medium pears, peeled, cored and sliced into quarters
175g (6oz) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
125g (4½oz) butter, melted
2 free-range eggs
50ml (2fl oz) semi-skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Thick double cream
1. Preheat your oven to 180oC (160oC fan) gas mark 4.
2. Line an 8in loose-bottomed round cake tin with baking paper.
3. Put 150g (5oz) sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and add 3 tablespoons of water. Dissolve the sugar over a gentle heat, then turn up the heat and boil until the sugar turns a rich amber colour. Don’t stir the mixture! Simply swirl the pan to distribute the heat evenly.
4. As soon as it turns to toffee, remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into the base of your prepared tin (it’s a good idea to put your cake tin on a baking tray in case any of the mixture leaks out)
5. Allow the toffee mixture to cool, then arrange the pear slices in a neat circular pattern on top.
6. Next, sift the flour and baking powder together. Add the remaining sugar, and stir until well-blended. Add the melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla, then mix at high speed for 1 minute to form a smooth batter.
7. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cake springs back when pressed in the centre.
8. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then invert on a wire rack and serve warm with a generous spoonful of thick cream and a dusting of icing sugar.