Celebrate pear season with this hazelnut, pear and espresso cake

Photo by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Photo by Anna Leigh Bagiackas

Celebrate pear season with this hazelnut, pear and espresso cake

by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

Pear season can sometimes feel short and fleeting, but this fruit does a great job of transitioning us from the bold, bright flavors of peach and berry filled summer into the warm, cozy apple season of autumn. The pear’s sweet flavor is elegant in its subtlety, making it perfect folded into a warm baked good.

And on a chilly, rainy Sunday sometimes you crave cake. Maybe you crave spending time in the kitchen putting it together. Maybe you crave the enticing smell that fills your home. Or maybe you crave taking the first bite of still-warm cake from the oven with a cup of afternoon tea or coffee. That’s what this cake is all about.

While this might be a combination of flavors you have never had before, the understated yet very present hints of hazelnut, pear and espresso work nicely together. The warm hazelnuts add both flavor and crunch, and the pear adds moisture and sweetness because it is spread in the batter and placed on top for decoration. With the hint of coffee flavor, this cake works equally well for dessert or even breakfast.

Be sure to keep an eye on your hazelnuts toasting in the oven, to make sure they do not burn. Additionally, follow the instructions for preparing the pears to avoid them turning brown while assembling the rest of the batter.

Hazelnut, Pear and Espresso Cake

Start to finish: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Serves: 6-8

2/3 cup (80 grams) blanched hazelnuts, plus extra to decorate

3 eggs

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (175 grams) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder

2 teaspoons (10 grams) instant espresso powder

3/4 cup (175 grams) unsalted butter, melted

4 Bosc or Conference pears, divided

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease the bottom and sides of a round 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

Toast the hazelnuts on a baking tray in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes and leave them to cool. Turn the oven down to 350°F (177°C).

Whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and espresso powder. Mix the dry ingredients with the wet, combining thoroughly before pouring in the butter and mixing until smooth.

Chop three-quarters of the hazelnuts and set aside. Peel, core and finely dice 2 pears. Gently fold both the chopped hazelnuts and diced pears into the batter and pour into the prepared pan. Cut the remaining 2 pears in half, with the skin left on, and use a teaspoon to spoon out the cores. Slice them thinly and then place them on top of the cake, overlapping a few at a time. Sprinkle on the remaining hazelnuts. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, turning halfway, until the cake is well-risen and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

(This recipe was adapted from “The New Way to Cake” by Benjamina Ebuehi.)

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