Rum and sultana pear cake


Is it wrong to daydream about a cake for a whole year!? Hmmm. This is the cake!

Recipe by Andi Oliver, published by The Guardian in 2021 as part of a gorgeous Caribbean influenced Christmas dinner spread. Last December we ran out of weekly recipe slots to feature it, so here it is, at long last, in all its rum-drenched fruity glory.  

What a luxurious destination for those winter conference pears…


  • conference pears 4, peeled
  • sultanas 250g
  • gold rum 350ml
  • mixed spice 1 good pinch
  • vanilla extract 20ml
  • butter 450g
  • brown sugar 250g
  • stem ginger in syrup 100g
  • dates 400g
  • caster sugar 230g
  • eggs 2
  • self-raising flour 400g
  • baking powder 10g
  • gingernut biscuits 80g
  • whipped cream or custard to serve


  1. Cover the sultanas in 250ml of the rum. Stir in the mixed spice and half the vanilla. Leave to soak overnight or 3 hours minimum.
  2. Slice the pears into quarters lengthwise and cut out the core and any pips. Line a tall 23cm cake tin with baking paper and layer the pears in the bottom in a fan shape or whichever way you fancy.
  3. In a saucepan, melt 200g of the butter, the brown sugar and 100ml of rum on a gentle heat until the sugar has melted. Pour two-thirds of the syrup over the pears so they are covered.
  4. Preheat the oven to 150C fan/ gas mark 3½.
  5. Strain the rum-soaked sultanas. In a food processor, blitz the stem ginger and dates, or chop roughly by hand, then mix with the sultanas.
  6. Beat the remaining butter with the caster sugar until pale and fluffy, add the rest of the vanilla and the eggs one by one until combined. Tip in the chopped fruit and beat again. Finally beat in the flour and baking powder until thoroughly combined.
  7. Pile the cake mix into the tin on top of the pears and syrup, and give the tin a gentle shake from side to side to even out the mixture, or use a spatula or back of a spoon, and allow to settle.
  8. Crush the ginger biscuits to a crumb with a rolling pin or in a food processor, and sprinkle over the top of the settled cake mix, then cover with a sheet of tin foil.
  9. Bake in the oven for about 2.5 hours or until a skewer comes out clean when you stick it in the middle.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
  11. Once cooled, run a knife around the edge of the cake, lay a plate over the top, tip it upside down and the whole thing should come out. Gently peel back the paper, pour over the remaining syrup and serve sliced with whipped cream or custard.