Gingerbread Sponge with Poached Pears

Brendan's Gingerbread Sponge with Poached PearsGreat to stimulate the tastebuds of all those courageous people who are quitting cigarettes during the ‘Stoptober’ campaign. This is a great cake for a tea party or special occasion. Yet, it is fairly simple to make: just follow the recipe carefully. The poached pears not only look great but add lovely flavour and texture to the cake, complimenting the ginger beautifully. As well as ginger, the recipe also uses cinnamon and cloves. Enjoy!



  • 220g butter
  • 220g light brown caster sugar
  • 1 tbls clear honey
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 220g self-raising flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tbls chopped, crystallised ginger.


Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C. Grease and base line two 120cm/8” sandwich tins. Cream the honey, butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating well after each addition. Sieve spices into flour and whisk together to mix. Fold into creamed mixture. Divide the mixture between tins.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until light to the touch and beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tins. Cool in tins and then turn out onto cooling racks.

Poached Pears


  • 3 Rocha pears or similar sized pears e.g. William, Comice or medium-sized Conference – peeled
  • 30cl red wine + 30cl water
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 4 cloves
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick


Put wine, water, caster sugar, orange zest, cloves and cinnamon stick in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to boil. Add peeled pears and simmer, with lid on, for 25-30 minutes until cooked. Remove from liquid and drain. Pat dry with kitchen towels.

Cut the pears into quarters, and remove cores with a teaspoon. Slice the quarters into slim slices (see photo) and set aside.



  • 125g butter
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 50g chopped, crystallised ginger

Cream the butter until soft and light, then gradually beat in icing sugar.

Chop the ginger finely into small pieces and stir in.

Assembly and decoration

1/3rd of jar apricot preserve + 1 tsp water – heated gently and sieved to glaze top of cake and pear slices.

  • Sandwich cake halves together with butter cream.
  • Spread a thin layer of apricot glaze on top of cake so that pears will stick to it.
  • Arrange pear slices in concentric circles starting from outer edge of the cake.
  • Glaze the slices with remaining apricot preserve.
  • There will likely be a 50p size hole at the centre of the pears which you can either fill with some chopped pieces of crystallised ginger or a small piece of chopped pear.
  • Transfer to serving plate.
  • The cake will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container.

Tags: , , , ,

5 Responses to “Gingerbread Sponge with Poached Pears”

  1. Elizabeth Jones
    February 24, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    Dear Sir,
    What perfect timing. We will start to harvest our pears next weekend and I’ve been looking for recipes. My friend and I share fruit from one tree and we always end up with too much fruit (even sharing bags with friends) so any ideas for preserving and using pears is a godsend.

    Thank you so much for this and the many delicious ideas you share. You are truly a fantastic baker.

    • brendan
      February 24, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      Thanks very much for your kind words. By the way, where are you in the world that you are harvesting pears in Feb / March?

  2. October 13, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    This looks fabulous Brendan.
    Thanks for the recipe.
    If I am invited to bake for our annual Children in Need cake stall at work (I am now retired), I will bake it for that, as I am always on the lookout for something that looks stunning but is not too much of a “technical challenge” !!

    • brendan
      October 13, 2013 at 9:14 am #

      thank you Jean. And good luck with the bake. It really does deliver on flavours. Warm wishes Brendan

  3. Gemma
    November 28, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Brendan, maybe it’s me, but what do you do with the crystallised ginger in the sponge? Shall I presume this is a spice to add to the flour, was just thinking it wouldn’t go through a sieve that’s all? X

Leave a Reply

nine − = 4