THE ISLAND COOK

CHOCOLATE, ORANGE & PEAR SPONGE

Containing only a touch of cocoa powder, you might just sneak this under the Lent wire, but in any case it would make a suitable Mother's Day treat. I don't have room in my kitchen for a bulky freestanding mixer for creaming butter and sugar, so I plump for the true, whisked sponge that I can whizz up with my ancient electric hand whisk, with the added benefit of being able to bin the fat. Fruit options continue to be limited at this time of year, but pears are still good if allowed to ripen in the fruit bowl for a couple of days. For the creamy filling, I have used Alpro Soya yogurt, which is the perfect consistency and slightly sweetened, in preference to the usual acidic-type natural yogurt.

Serves 6–8

3 large eggs
85g golden caster sugar
finely grated zest of 2 oranges plus 1 tbsp juice, hot
85g self-raising flour, 1 tbsp replaced with 1 tbsp good-quality cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ripe pear, peeled, cored and fairly finely chopped, plus extra to serve
about 1/2 x 500g carton Alpro Soya vanilla or plain yogurt
icing sugar, for dusting

SAM_0053

Preheat your oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/Gas 5. Line the bases of 2 x 20cm or 18cm sandwich tins with non-stick baking paper. Put the eggs, sugar and zest in a large mixing bowl. Whisk with an electric hand whisk until pale, creamy and thick enough to hold the trail of the whisk. Sift the flour, cocoa and cinnamon together a couple of times, then gently fold into the whisked mixture with a large metal spoon, adding the hot juice in the process. Divide the mixture between the tins, tap gently to level, then bake in the centre of the oven for 12–15 minutes or until springy to the touch. Cool on a wire rack for a couple of minutes, then run a knife around the edge of each tin and carefully turn out. Peel away the paper and cool completely.

Mix the chopped pear with the yogurt, then spread over one of the sponges and top with the other sponge. Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar, then serve in slices with extra ripe pear. The sponge won't last too long – 2 days max – but see below for a leftovers option.

Chocolate Orange Trifle I served up the sponge for 3 of us and had half left over. So I used it to make a second dessert, along with the leftover ingredients, as follows: Place a layer of sponge in the bottom of 3 squat glasses. Cut the segments from the zested oranges between the membranes, then roughly chop and soak in a couple of tbsps elderflower cordial, creme de casis or orange liqueur. Spoon over the sponge, top with the rest of the yogurt and grate over some dark orange chocolate.