11 Nov 2012

Chocolate and Pear Cake

Sunday has become my bake-a-cake day. The planning for the Sunday cake starts a few days before when I scan my cookbooks and favorite blogs for a recipe that I might want to try out. Early on Sunday morning, my dad and I go to the market to shop for eggs, butter and whatever fruit I want to use in the cake that day. For some reason, some kind of fruit cake has become traditional on Sundays – I would never make a plain chocolate cake for example. Then, after breakfast, I get down to baking and by lunch time the cake is made. I photograph it when everyone is having a quick snooze in the afternoon and finally, by tea time we all sit down for a scrumptious feast.

The reason this cake appealed to me was because of all the brown butter that the recipe calls for. It was the first time I had to use this technique and was really surprised at the wonderful nutty smell that the brown butter gives off. Be careful with it – the butter foams a lot and you have to be careful to take it off the stove as soon as the butter has turned brown. It doesn’t become brown for a while and then quite suddenly a point is reached when the butter at the bottom of the saucepan starts scorching and all of it turns brown.
The eggs are whipped beyond fluffy. In fact you need a hand held mixer for this at the very least and beat it for at least 9 minutes until it becomes thick, increases in volume and becomes custard like.

The cake is so delicious – soft and airy, moist and light. You whip up the eggs and sugar, brown the butter, mix in the flour and pour it into the pan. Then you scatter the pears and chocolate pieces. I couldn’t wait for it to finish baking. I wanted the batter to enfold the fruit and chocolate and have it spread evenly throughout the cake and I wonder why it all sank to the bottom. It was fruity and delicate still, and as you can guess, didn’t last very long.

Chocolate and Pear Cake

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
3/4 cup chocolate chunks

1.    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with breadcrumbs (I used flour), set aside.
2.    Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.
3.    Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick. (on a home machine, it will take nine minutes to get sufficient volume)
4.    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.
5.    Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more.
6.    Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to lose 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.
7.    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 a tester comes out clean.
8.    Serve it with slightly whipped cream or just by itself.


  1. Chocolate and pears , that's an interesting combination :O The cake looks soft and crumbly, will surely try the recipe :D

  2. It is so very soft, Anmol - just melts in your mouth.