Nat is a friend of ours from way back, ever since Nichol and her husband Tsz used to blacksmith together. She's a talented landscape gardener in her own right, but from our perspective as visitors who tend to appear unannounced we're just delighted that she can whip up a meal at short notice from just about anything.
This is a pudding she baked for us a couple of years ago, and it's been a favourite ever since. It's very quick, very easy, and for the most part is made from stuff that's likely to be lurking in your kitchen cupboard anyway.
So here it is... Lazy Toffee Pear Cake a la Nat. And yes, we were playing Travel Cluedo after dinner last night...
FOR THE CAKE
5 heaped soup spoons of plain flour
5 soup spoons of caster sugar (if you only have granulated I'm sure it won't kill you)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
3 soup spoons of milk
2 soup spoons of olive oil
FOR THE TOPPING
100g caster sugar
a few drops of almond or vanilla essence
1. Mix together all the cake ingredients except for the pears. Beat well.
2. Pour into a small buttered flan dish or cake tin. This will look like a ludicrously small amount of mixture. Believe me, it will be fine.
3. Slice pears finely and place on top of mixture. They should simply sit there rather than sinking.
4. Bake for approximately 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 160C. The top of the cake should turn golden.
5. Towards the end of the cooking time, gently melt and mix the butter, sugar and almond / vanilla essence in a saucepan.
6. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly, and mix in the egg. The cooling is important, or you'll end up with sugary scrambled egg on top of your cake (not advised...)
7. Remove cake from oven, pour the topping over it, and return to the oven until the top starts to caramelise. This should take 10-15 minutes.
8. Eat straight away, with or without ice cream...