Pear,almond and ginger cake,sem lactose

It all seems grey skies, gloomy and cold.The chill of Winter is officially here so bring on the cravings for comforting foods that nurture the soul and warm up our bodies!  When I think of Winter... I think of the sweet and warming spices of ginger, cinnamon and cardamon as well as classic foods like tangy tangerines,mandarins, hearty roasted root vegetables, steaming hot puddings, delicious stews, comforting casseroles and bowls of hot steaming soup. What better way to satisfy these cravings than a seasonal pear almond and ginger cake, made using some fine Portuguese Rocha pears and our very own harvest of Algarvian almonds. Ginger was introduced to Europe by the Portuguese and many Portuguese recipes are characterised by the use of a wide variety of spices,Southern Portuguese cuisine in particular having Arab and Moorish influences.
The main ingredient of this recipe obviously is pears. Now I don’t enjoy peeling fruit and vegetables,but the big exception is pears. I could stand peeling pears till the cows come home – which is a long time as I don’t own any cows, nor do any live with me. There’s something about the texture of the pear skin and the pear itself that is lovely. I’m sure a psychologist could make something of that....
A wonderfully moist and rustic cake, the gentle heat of the ginger and the juicy sweetness of the pears, all set in a lightly spiced cake, work so well together. This cake is perfect sliced and eaten along with a cup of coffee, but wonderful served warm as a dessert with either cream or ice cream. Yoghurt makes a particularly happy partner.
 I had scribbled this recipe in the back of one of my cookery books that I have had for decades, found only while having a tidy of my cookery book shelves and delving into a few that I hadn’t read for some time. I have always jotted down recipes when they were demonstrated on television (long before the immediacy of the internet!). Actually, most of my older cookery books are stuffed with bits of paper with both mine and my mother´s  ideas and scrawlings all over them.
The recipe called for milk which I am not allowed,but I saw no reason why,since the cake contained almonds that I could not substitute almond milk.Ha, it worked beautifully.The recipe also called for butter,another forbidden item.I just omitted it and nobody even noticed.
The small pieces of pear inside the cake cook down a little as the cake bakes, giving lovely squidgy pieces. The ginger is there as a subtle back-note.
Pear, almond and ginger cake 
3-5 Rocha pears,depending on their size,cored and sliced lengthways
1/2 cup ground almonds
3 eggs
1/2 cup almond milk
400g caster sugar(1.75 cups)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
250g plain flour (2 cups)
2 teaspoons baking powder

Pre-heat the oven to180ºC (350F),gas mark 4.
Grease a 25cm ( 10 inch ) round spring-form cake tin,sprinkle in half of the ground almonds,and shake the tin so they stick to the greased base and sides.beat thev eggs and sugar together till thick and pale.mix in the milk,flour,baking powder and grated ginger.Fold the pears into the batter and spoon the mixture into the tin.Sprinkle the top of the batter with the remaining almonds and bake for 11/2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean.



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