A perfect light, fruit filled sponge covered with sweet frosting that will make a sensational centrepiece at tea-time. The combination of pears and honey nestling in a light-as-air sponge will surprise the tastebuds and make a welcome change from the usual fruitcake.
For the caramelized pears:
20g unsalted butter
60g clear honey
40g caster sugar
For the sponge:
4 large eggs
120g caster sugar
40g soft light brown sugar
120g clear honey
120ml vegetable oil
1 tsp lemon zest
280g plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
For the frosting:
500g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, softened
250g cream cheese
50g clear honey
Ground cinnamon, for dusting (optional)
Use four 20cm (8in) diameter loose-bottomed sandwich tins
Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas mark 3, and line the base of the sandwich tins with baking paper.
Cook the pears. Peel and core the fruit and cut each lengthways into about 12 slices. Place the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and melt together over a low heat. Add the sliced pears and cook until the fruit is soft and golden. Set aside to cool while you make the sponge batter.
Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the eggs and both types of sugars until light and fluffy. In a jug, stir together the buttermilk, honey, vegetable oil and lemon zest. Pour this liquid mixture into the creamed ingredients while mixing on low speed.
Sift together the remaining ingredients, add to the creamed mixture and mix together on a medium speed to ensure everything is well incorporated.
Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared cake tins. Top the batter with the cooked pears, allowing nine slices per cake and placing them in concentric circles, each slice spaced evenly apart.
Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until each sponge is golden brown on top and bounces back when lightly pressed. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack, before you frost them.
Using the electric whisk or mixer, slowly mix the butter and icing sugar together until no large lumps of butter remain and the ingredients have a sandy consistency. Add the cream cheese and honey and continue mixing on a low speed until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium and beat the frosting until it is light and fluffy.
Once the sponges have cooled, place the first layer on a plate or cake card and top with 3-4 tablespoons of the honey frosting, smoothing it on with a palette knife and adding a little more if needed. Continue this process, adding the second layer of sponge and topping with frosting. Repeat with the third layer, then add the final sponge and frost the sides and top of the cake, covering it completely so that no sponge can be seen.
Lightly dust with ground cinnamon if you like.
This recipe originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of Heart Home magazine.
Photographs and recipe by Giedre Augustinaviciute.