The fourth fruit that I am featuring in my series "CAKES AND FRUITS" is the wonderful Pear. Pears are thick-skinned with juicy, sweet flesh that can be buttery or slightly granular in texture, depending on the variety of pears that you are choosing to buy. They are normally sold when they are still firm and not quite ripe so that these wonderful fruits do not bruise so easily in transport. However, once you bring them home, they will ripen within a few days if kept at room temperature.
You can use the very versatile pears in savory salads mixed with bitter greens and sharp-flavored cheeses, in main dishes, in drinks, desserts, preserves, compotes, pickles, chutneys, and, of course, in baking, for cakes as well as tarts. Pears are often poached in with wine and spices such as vanilla, cardamom or ginger to enhance their delicate flavor.
Recipe for Pear Bundt Cake with Dark Chocolate, Hazelnuts and Red Wine
("Rotweingugelhupf mit dunkler Schokolade, Haselnüssen und Rotwein")
Ingredients for the Cake
- 100 grams (3/4 cup) hazelnuts, ground (you can use almonds)
- 150 grams (1 1/4 cups) AP flour, plus some for the pan
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, preferably from Ceylon
- one pinch ground cloves
- 15 grams (3 tsp) baking powder
- one pinch of fine sea salt
- 250 grams (2 sticks minus one tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus some more for greasing the pan
- 200 grams (1 cup plus 2 tbsp) light brown sugar, packed firmly
- one package of pure vanilla sugar (you can substitute 2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
- 4 eggs, (L) free range or organic if possible
- 2 medium to large sized ripe but still firm pears
- a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 125 ml (1 cup plus 1 tsp) good quality red wine
- 50 grams (1/3 cup) hazelnuts, chopped (again you can use almonds)
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) good quality dark chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt Excellence 70%)
Ingredients for the Glaze
125 grams (1 1/4 cups) confectioners´ sugar
some red wine
Gugelhupf - or 10-12 cup Bundt pan
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Butter and flour your Gugelhupf - or Bundt pan (usually for a cake with ground nuts, we butter the pan and dust with some of the grounds nuts instead of flour), shake out any excess flour (or nuts).
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the ground hazelnuts, the flour, the cinnamon, the cloves, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla sugar until light in color and fluffy.
5. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6. In the meantime, peel the pears, core and then cut into small pieces, add a few drops of lemon juice to avoid discoloration. NOTE: raw pears need to be prepared at the last moment.
7. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the red wine.
8. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the pear pieces, chopped hazelnuts and the chocolate.
9.Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
10. Bake the cake until the top is brown and a tester inserted near the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about an hour to an hour and 10 minutes, depending on your oven.
11. Cool the cake in the pan on the rack for about 30 minutes. Then turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely.
12. In a medium bowl, whish together the confectioners´ sugar and the red wine - you should have a thick but pourable glaze.
13. Pour the glaze over the cake and let the glaze set before you slice into the cake. Or simply dust with confectioners´ sugar.
When I buy pears at a store or market, I always look for fruits wrapped in these lovely colorful tissue papers - sometimes the fruit mongers will "dress up" pears or apples and wrap these papers around some of the fruits on display. The "Williams" pears that I used for my Bundt Cake were from Italy!
Apart from the Williams pears, there are so many different varities of pears to discover such as Bosc, small Seckel, Anjou, Bartlett, Comice, Conference, Forelle, Abaté Fétel, Josephine, Winter Nellis and Packham - this is just a very short list and depending on where you live, and when you buy your fruit, you will be able to find different ones, but no matter which variety you buy, do give pears a try!
Tulip Flower Cake Pan (26 cm - 10.25 inches), cast aluminium from Berndes (http://www.berndes.com).