One uncooked butter cake mixture from the butter cake recipe
1 cinnamon stick
2 strips lemon rind
1 tablespoon lemon juice 440 g (14 oz) caster sugar
6 beurre bosc or packham pears
3 tablespoons apricot jam
2 tablespoons chopped pecans icing sugar, to dust
1- Put the cinnamon, lemon rind, juice, 1 litre water and half the sugar in a pan large enough to hold the pears and stir over heat until the sugar has dissolved. Core the pears through the bases with a melon bailer, then peel and place in the syrup. Simmer, partly covered, for 10 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the syrup. Drain and leave on paper towel to drain thoroughly.
2 - Preheat the oven to moderate 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Lightly grease two 23 cm (9 inch) round spring- form tins and cover the bases with baking paper. Divide the cake mixture between the tins. Arrange the pears around the edge of one cake, about 2 cm (1 inch) in from the edge, and gently press into the mixture. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the plain cake comes out clean. Cook the pear cake for a further 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave the cakes in their tins for 5 minutes, before removing.
3 - Warm and strain the jam and spread some over the plain cake—if the top is domed, trim it flat. Sit the pear cake on top and brush with a little jam. Sprinkle with the pecans.
4 - For the spun toffee, place a couple of sheets of newspaper on the floor where you will be spinning the toffee. Place a wooden spoon on the work surface with its handle over the edge, above the newspaper (weigh it down with a heavy object). Lightly oil the spoon handle. Put a heavy-based pan over medium heat, gradually sprinkle with some of the remaining sugar and, as it melts, sprinkle with the rest. Stir to melt any lumps and prevent burning. Meanwhile, run a little cold water into the sink. When the toffee is golden brown, remove the pan from the heat and place the base in the water to quickly cool the toffee and prevent it burning. This will also make the toffee thicken.
5 - Hold two forks back to back and dip in the hot toffee. Carefully flick the toffee backwards and forwards over the handle of the spoon, redipping in the pan as often as necessary—you may need to do this several times. If the toffee gets too thick, warm it slightly over low heat. Lift the toffee off the spoon and mould into a large halo shape, about the same width as the top of the pears. Make a couple more halos and place over the pears.
Core the pears through the base with a melon bailer, then peel.
Arrange the poached pears around the edge of the cake mixture in the tin.
As the sugar in the pan melts, sprinkle with more sugar. Stir to melt any lumps.
Flick the toffee backwards and forwards over the handle of the wooden spoon.
Lift the spun toffee off the spoon and mould into a halo shape.
Ahead of time: Best eaten on the day of baking. The toffeecan be kept in an airtight container for several hours, but don't place on the cake until ready to serve.