find and follow us
  • Dessert
  • Foodforfriends
  • Weekendbakes
  • Butter


  • 75 min
  • 10 servings

By Annie Bell

Cakes are inclined to fall into an all-or-nothing scenario when it comes to dairy, either insanely rich and buttery or fiercely right on and made with grated vegetables and oil. So I wanted a truce between the warring factions, and here the sponge takes its cue from a carrot-style cake, with just a little buttery crumble scattered over. But the real treat is the chilli that spars masterfully with the chocolate, courtesy of a dribble of Tabasco. Should you want to shout about it, then the chilli syrup provides added pep.

This recipe is the perfect showstopper if you are having friends over soon or perhaps you want to make a cake to bring to a summer dinner party. Either way this chocolatey-sweat-spicey cake will be a crowd favourite fit to serve to Mary Berry herself!

ps. If you like this recipe, check out Annie’s other summer supper recipes from dunkin’ chilli quesadillas to  oh so smokey mexican chicken and pepper stew!

For dairy lovers and those who like to have fun in the kitchen and hosting friends we 10/10 recommend Annie’s cookbook The Modern Dairy.

Step by Step (tick the boxes as you go)
  • 1 Peel, quarter and core the pears, then thinly slice across.
  • 2 Toss these in a large bowl with a couple of tablespoons of the sugar and the lemon juice and set aside for 10 minutes.
  • 3 In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/gas mark 6 and butter a 20cm cake tin with sides 7cm deep and a removable base.
  • 4 Whisk the oil, eggs and orange juice in a large bowl with the Tabasco to taste, and any juices given out by the pears.
  • 5 Whisk in the remaining sugar. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder together and whisk into the mixture, then stir in the pears and chocolate chips.
  • 6 Transfer the mixture to the cake tin.
  • 7 Put the ingredients for the crumble in the bowl of a food processor and whizz until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  • 8 Scatter this over the surface of the cake and bake for 50–60 minutes until golden and risen, and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean or with no more than a smear of chocolate on it.
  • 9 Run a knife around the edge and leave to cool. Serve the cake with a teaspoon of the chilli syrup, if wished.
  • 10 If using Chilli Syrup, put all the ingredients into a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer over a very low heat for 5 minutes. Transfer this to a bowl and leave to cool.
The Cake
  • 3 conference pears
  • 170g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 170ml groundnut or vegetable oil
  • 2 medium free-range eggs
  • 70ml smooth orange juice
  • 1⁄2 –1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • 200g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 50g dark chocolate chips
The Crumble
  • 50g unsalted butter, diced
  • 80g plain flour
  • 80g light muscovado sugar
Chilli Syrup
  • 1 medium–hot red chilli, cut into fine 1–2cm lengths
  • 50ml smooth orange juice
  • 50g caster sugar
You’ll need
  • Large bowl
  • Cake tin
  • Sift
  • Food processor