Warm Pear Cake and Licorice Ice Cream

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You will need to begin this recipe one day ahead.

Ingredients

  • 250 g (9 oz) unsalted butter
  • 300 g (10½ oz) sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 taylor’s gold pears (or best in season) peeled, cored
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 bunch sweet cicely or fresh licorice herb, leaves picked, to serve

Licorice Ice Cream

  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) milk
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) cream
  • 125 g ( oz) licorice, chopped
  • 250 g (9 oz) egg yolks
  • 200 g (7 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 25 ml (1 fl oz) Sambuca (anise-flavoured liqueur)

Licorice Powder

  • 250 g (9 oz) licorice sticks

Method

To make the licorice ice cream, gently heat the milk, cream and licorice in a large saucepan until boiling. Add to a blender and purée until smooth. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk until thick and pale. Pour the licorice mixture and Sambuca into the yolk mixture and whisk to combine. Strain the mixture into a large saucepan and place over low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickly coats the back of a spoon. Strain into a clean bowl and refrigerate until chilled. Freeze in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then transfer to a container and freeze until required.

To make the licorice powder, line a baking tray with baking paper, put the licorice sticks on the tray and bake overnight in the oven at 65°C (145°F). Alternatively dry out in a dehydrator for 4–6 hours. Depending on the type of licorice used, dehydrating times may vary. Put the dried licorice in a spice grinder and grind to a powder consistency. Set aside until ready to serve.

To make the pear cake, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4), grease and line a 20 cm (8 inch) square cake tin with baking paper and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar using an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time until incorporated, then add the milk. Sift in the combined flour and baking powder. Mix slowly. Once combined, pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin, ensuring the mixture is distributed evenly. Cut 2 of the pears into small chunks and press into the mix. Sprinkle the brown sugar on the top and bake for 40–50 minutes or until golden on top and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

To assemble, place pieces of cake slightly off-centre in bowls and lean two slivers of the remaining pear against the cake. Place one scoop of licorice ice cream next to the cake and sprinkle the entire dish with licorice powder. To finish, garnish with sweet cicely or licorice herb.