Spiced cider-poached pears

1L cider
5 hard pears – comice or Williams
100g sugar
5 cloves
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely sliced
5 cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange, zest and juice
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out

Heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Put the cider in a saucepan with the sugar, spices, ginger and orange zest and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.

Meanwhile, peel the pears and cut out the core at the base, but leave the stalk. Lay them in an ovenproof dish big enough to hold them in one layer.

Put the vanilla seeds and pod into the spiced cider, then pour the whole thing over the pears, along with the orange juice. It should just cover the fruit.

Bake for about 45 minutes – one hour, checking after 30 minutes. The pears should be tender to the point of a knife, but still holds their shape. When they are, take them out of the syrup set aside.

Sieve the syrup back into the saucepan and reduce it by half. To serve, spoon syrup over the pears and eat warm or cold.