Begin by making the custard so it has enough time to chill. Gently warm the cream and vanilla until it begins to steam. Remove from the heat. Whisk the yolks, whole eggs and sugar together. Pour over the warmed cream and whisk.
Pour the combined mixture into a large bowl, and sit it on a saucepan of gently simmering water on the stove, making sure it doesn’t directly touch the water. Stir with a whisk frequently until thickened. Transfer to a container and allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge.
Place the pears, sugar, water and aromatics in a large pan making sure the water is covering the pears. If not, top it up. Place a circular piece of parchment directly on the surface of the water to keep the pears submerged. Bring to a gentle simmer until the pears are cooked, around 25-30 minutes, until a skewer placed in slides straight out.
Allow to cool before cutting – slice the pears into strips, removing the core, or dice up, depending on how chunky you want the fruit. Keep the liquid to poach more pears.
To assemble, place the sponge fingers into the bottom of the chosen dish. Drizzle over the sherry, being as generous as you like – but not too much or it will be too wet. Place the cooled sliced pears on top. Spoon over the cold custard.
Gently whip the cream and sugar to soft peaks and top the custard. Finish with a sprinkling of roasted flaked almonds. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for 2 days.