Originally posted: Jan 2011; updated Oct 2013, April 2014 (with new photos)
Back in my grad school days…
Armed with my semi-success in cake baking (i.e. the sour cream pear and walnut cake), I decided to try another cake this week. The girls were coming over for a book study so I had a reason to bake a cake. Looked through Smitten Kitchen’s list of cake recipes and this one caught my eye mainly because I still had one pear left in my fruit bowl. I had most of the ingredients and the cake seemed simple enough to make. Browned butter was a new thing for me, but worth a shot.
I’m not sure how the cake is supposed to be but I think it is supposed to be a little fluffier. I had made the mistake of beating in the flour and butter. It should have been folded in to preserve the volume of the batter. Despite that boo-boo, the cake still turned out nice. Not too sweet as well. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of bittersweet chocolate, lighter on the pocket.
UPDATE (Oct 2013): I made this cake again and had more “accurate results”. It is crucial that you beat your eggs till they are pale and thick. The stand mixer is a perfect tool for this. Also, be careful not to over mix so that the batter loses its volume. The batter should “envelope” the pear and chocolate chunks when baking in the oven. The cake is perfect when served with some whipped cream (recipe below). I also dust the top with icing sugar.
Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake
(taken from Smitten Kitchen; click here for recipe)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs, at room-temperature
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 pears, peeled, in a small dice (I used anjou, but would recommend a softer variety, like a bosc or any other of your favorites)
- 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with breadcrumbs (I cheated and used flour), set aside.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.
- Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick. (In a professional Kitchen Aid, it takes at least five minutes; on a home machine, it will take nine minutes to get sufficient volume)
- While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan (because it will foam a lot) and cook it until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Remove from the flame but keep in a warm spot.
- Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more.
- Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to loose volume, turn the mixture down to stir, and add the flour mixture and brown butter. Add one third of the flour mixture, then half of the butter, a third of the flour, the remaining butter, and the rest of flour. Whisk until just barely combined — no more than a minute from when the flour is first added — and then use a spatula to gently fold the batter until the ingredients are combined. It is very important not to over-whisk or fold the batter or it will lose volume.
- Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the pear and chocolate chunks over the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes, or till a tester comes out clean.
Joy’s Whipped Cream
- 1 cup (250ml) heavy cream or whipping cream
- 2-3 tablespoons fine granulated sugar (or more if you want it sweeter)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer (you can also do this by hand), start whipping the cream.
- Once the cream has thickened, add in the sugar, salt and vanilla extract.
- Whip the cream until desired consistency (firm but not stiff). Be careful not to over whip the cream.
- Refrigerate till needed. Cream should keep for about a week.