10 - 12


1 hr 35 min

I am a huge fan of poppy seeds. It always takes me back to my childhood days and special Sunday cakes such as this one. Poppy seed cake was my dad’s absolute favourite and my mum simply made the best. This is not the same as hers but I like the seasonal pears in this cake.

Pear & Poppy Seed Cake


For the Sponge

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 100g ground poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp pear
For the Pears
  • 1 kg pears
  • 400g jam sugar 3:1
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon rind
  • 5 tbsp lemon juice
  • For the Cream
  • 5 sheets of leaf gelatine, soaked
  • 75ml pear juice
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 560ml double cream
For the decoration
  • 130g dark chocolate
  • 100ml double cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan. Grease and base line with parchment paper a 20cm spring form.
  2. In a bowl and with an electric hand whisk, beat together the egg whites and salt until stiff. Add 40g of the sugar, one tbsp at a time and whisk continuously until the mixture is thick and glossy. In a separate bowl beat together the egg yolks and the remaining 35g of sugar until the mixture is thick and pale. Working in thirds, carefully fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
  3. Stir the poppy seeds, corn flour and baking powder together and carefully fold into the egg mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin and bake in the preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes until well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and remove the parchment paper. Set aside to cool.
  4. For the pears place a small plate into the freezer. Peel and core the pears, then cut the pears into small cubes. Weigh out 600g and place into a saucepan. Add the jam sugar, lemon rind and lemon juice. Under a medium heat bring to a boil, reduce the temperature to low and let it simmer for 1 hour. Puree the pears, return them to the saucepan and stirring all the while, bring to a boil. Continue stirring and let the pears boil for 5 minutes. Drop a spoonful of the mixture onto the frozen plate to check that the mixture is setting. If not continue boiling for another 5 – 10 minutes. Pour the pears into a heatproof bowl and chill.
  5. For the cream, in a small saucepan heat the pear juice and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the squeezed out gelatine until liquefied. Set aside to cool. As soon as the gelatine begins to set, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Stir 2 tbsp of the cream into the gelatine mixture until incorporated, then fold in the remaining cream.
  6. Cut the cake horizontally into 3 slices. Place the first sponge onto a serving plate and enclose with the spring form ring. Brush with one tbsp of the pear liqueur, then spread with half the pear mixture followed by a third of the cream. Repeat the first layer. Top with the third sponge, brush with 1 tbsp of the pear liqueur and the reaming cream. Chill for at least one hour.
  7. For the decoration, break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of simmering water but don’t let the bowl touch the water. Stir until the chocolate has melted then take it of the heat. Let it cool a little and spoon the cooled chocolate into an icing bag. Pipe your choice of decorations onto baking parchment and leave it to set. Loosen the edge of the cake with a knife and remove the ring. Beat the cream, vanilla essence and sugar until stiff but still spreadable and spread around the cake. Pipe chocolate decorations onto the top of the cake and press the set decorations around the outside of the cake.

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