Tuesday, 27 May 2014
Pear and hazelnut cake
On Friday night I flew down to spend the weekend in Anglesea with two friends I've known now for nearly twenty years. There was porridge (with apples, roast almonds and homemade dulche de leche). There were pies (from the local bakery). There were walks on the beach. There were dogs. There were antihistamines (I'm allergic). And, of course, there was cake. I'd spotted this Frank Camorra recipe in the Sydney Morning Herald a few weeks ago and ripped it out thinking it would be the one for this weekend: a sturdy shape (handy for carry-on), seasonal (autumn pears), and nuts and dark chocolate for post-surf (or post-surf watching) indulgence.
I love the beach in winter. Or, better still, almost winter, when it's still pleasantly walkable but free of beach umbrellas and flying frisbees, when you can see for miles and it's moody and misty and the surfers in their wetsuits bob black like seals in the water - my friend Gill among them! - waiting for a wave. And we were waiting for her when she came in. With cake. Like Gill, it's worthy of applause. The pears are silky, the ground nuts buttery-smooth and the chocolate chunks a sweet surprise crunch. And it's made with brown sugar, which lends a deep caramel to the colour and flavour of the loaf. Not to mention a lovely (almost) winter warmth.
Pear and hazelnut cake
From a recipe by Frank Camorra, as published in the Sydney Morning Herald
This is somewhat of a distant cousin to the crowd-pleasing pear pistachio and chocolate cake, which was one of the first recipes I ever posted on this blog. So if you like this one, definitely check that out.
100g blanched hazelnuts
140g self-raising flour (or 1 cup plain flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder)
175g butter, cut into small pieces
140g brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
3 semi-ripe pears
50g dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
Preheat the oven to 160 deg C.
Butter and line the base of a 25 x 11cm loaf cake tin with baking paper.
Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor til fairly fine. Add the flour and mix briefly. Add the butter and pulse until it forms crumbs. Add the sugar and eggs and mix briefly.
Peel, core and chop one and a half pears into a small dice. Stir the pears and chocolate lightly into the cake mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top.
Peel, core and slice the remaining pears and arrange on the top of the cake. Press down lightly and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack.