A couple of weeks ago on Supplemental, Ed Smith mentioned a pear and ginger cake by Nadiya Hussain and I started researching loads of recipes. It took me a while to cop on to myself and realise that I’m not a fan of ginger cake so why would I think pears would change that?! But I couldn’t let go the idea of a cake with pears as I love them, so I decided to go with the classic pairing and have a Pear and Chocolate Cake instead.
So this sort of upside down cake was born. I did a bit of experimenting with the cake recipe and the way I cut the pears. I sliced the pears very thin the first time and really the thicker pieces are much better. The first cake I made was a little dry and according to my chief taster, the cake to pear ratio was all wrong. He was right. I hate that. So I am finally happy with this recipe. The best thing about it is that the cake lasts for days in an airtight tin and actually gets better over time.
Useful tips & links:
- I used fresh in season Conference pears to make this. Use whatever pears you like yourself. Tinned pears will work perfectly fine here and add a little of the juice to the cake batter if you do use them.
- Make sure you allow the cake to cool completely in the tin. It is very moist, I got impatient with mine and took it out too early. Thus the cake didn’t hold together quite as well as it should. It made no difference to the taste though.
- Another example of a classic pear and chocolate combination can be seen here with my Poires Belle Helene.
- Aoife from Babaduck has a great recipe for Chocolate Pear Sponge Pudding.
- If you do like ginger cake this is Nadiya Hussain’s recipe (€)
Pear and Chocolate Cake
- 4 pears, peeled cored and quartered
- 50g of caster sugar
- 50g of butter
- For the cake:
- 100g of unsalted butter, softened plus extra to grease the tin
- 100g of soft dark brown sugar
- 50g of caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 125ml of buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 150g of plain flour
- 50g of ground almonds
- 75g of good quality cocoa powder
- 125ml of boiling water
- 1½ teaspoons of baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- Start by cooking the pears, which can be done in advance. Heat the butter and sugar in a large pan over a medium heat and add the pears. Cook gently, turning occasionally until the pear is soft enough so that it can be easily pierced with a knife. However you don’t want them mushy, they must still hold their shape. If using tinned pears you can skip this step.
- When cooked, set aside to cool while you make the cake.
- Grease an 8″ cake pan and line with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4.
- Arrange the pears in a circle in the base of the tin. Spoon over a little of the butter and pear juice mixture from the pan.
- Pass the cocoa powder through a sieve into a bowl and add the boiling water. Whisk together until the cocoa powder dissolves and set it aside to cool.
- Beat together the softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each one until fully incorporated. Add the buttermilk, vanilla and cocoa liquid and mix well together. Take a couple of tablespoons of liquid from the pan you cooked the pears in and add to the chocolate batter.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the liquid mixture, add the ground almonds and fold carefully until everything is well mixed but take care not to overwork the flour.
- Pour the batter over the pears, taking care to make sure the batter fills the gaps between the pears.
- Bake the cake in the oven for between 35 and 45 minutes. The cake should feel springy to the touch and a skewer inserted in the cake comes out free of chocolate crumbs. It may be a little wet if you pierce a pear but should not have raw batter on it.
- Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin before turning it out on to a plate.
- Serve with a little vanilla ice cream, fresh cream or crème fraiche.