This recipe harnesses the sweet but earthy character of winter parsnips. The dates add a hint of toffee to the mix and help towards the rib-sticking qualities you expect from a good winter pud. Best served warm with a little cream, crème fraîche or custard.
- 150g grated parsnip
- 250ml water
- 100g chopped dates
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tbsp finely chopped preserved ginger – optional
- 80g soft butter, plus extra for greasing
- 180g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 ripe pears
- 200g self-raising flour
- Turn your oven to 180⁰C/Gas 4 to preheat. Grease a 20cm square baking tin with a little butter.
- Place the parsnip into a saucepan, along with 250ml of cold water. Bring it up to a gentle simmer. Remove from the heat and add the dates, bicarbonate of soda, and ginger. Leave to steep for 15 mins.
- Put the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and beat or whisk them together until light, pale and fluffy; this may take 3-4 mins. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated.
- Cut each pear into 8 even wedges
- Tip the parsnip mixture into a blender or food processor and blitz it to a purée; it doesn’t matter if it is still warm. Transfer it to the bowl with the sugar and egg mixture. Mix everything together. Now sift in the flour and gently fold everything together. Take care to not overmix it; stop as soon as you stop seeing any dry parts.
- Scrape the mix to the baking tin and level it with the back of a spoon. Arrange the pears on top as evenly as you can. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 mins, or until a skewer or knife tip comes out with only a few crumbs attached. Serve warm.